Games satisfies ravenous audience

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) discusses with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) the unfortunate impossibility of running away from the brutal games put on by the evil Capitol.

By Kylie Peters, Staff Writer

With the release of The Hunger Games, the newest franchise in a line of film adaptations of bestselling young adult novels, the big question for viewers is: does it live up to the hype?

If the third-largest opening weekend in history is any way to judge, the answer is a resounding yes.

The movie takes place in a dystopian future. Every year, two teenagers from each of the twelve districts of the country Panem are offered in “tribute” to the Capital to fight until only one is left alive.

Perhaps because the novel’s script was co-written by author Suzanne Collins, the movie has a feel of homage for its fans. It is faithful to its source material and brings a confident, theatrical flair to a film that knows it already has a loving audience just waiting to be blown away.

While this sincerity is refreshing, it might also be problematic for viewers who have not read the books since certain plot points are given minimal attention or explanation.

Such viewers should have no trouble grasping the overall plot, but some of the subtleties may be lost, and those seeking a lot of explanation may want to go with a friend familiar with the books.

Regardless of the viewer’s knowledge, no one can fail to appreciate the film’s flawless action pacing.  The Hunger Games keeps viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish—and a good percentage of those viewers already know what’s going to happen.

In order to maintain its brisk pace, the movie makes certain sacrifices.  The focus on plot movement deals a blow to character and relationship development and removes some of the emotional impact of certain dramatic scenes.

This balancing act comes down to a stylistic choice on the part of the director, and viewers might find this appropriate or disappointing, depending on what they want from the film.

While narrative choices might spark debate, there’s no question this is a well-made movie. The use of cinematography, musical score (or a well-placed lack thereof) and costuming is surprisingly artistic for a blockbuster franchise film.

The film makes a careful distinction between the bright colors and gaudy fashions of the Capital versus the Depression Era style grays of the Districts, and the result is both bleak and perversely humorous.

Actor Jennifer Lawrence brings her character to life both in looks and action as modern media’s much needed strong female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen.

Josh Hutcherson strikes a nice balance between lovable sweetness and firm resolve as leading man Peeta Mellark.

The leads are backed by a large cast of colorful supporting characters, with particularly quirky, enthusiastic performances from Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy.

The Hunger Games novels gained fame for raising some frightening questions about survival, trust and mass enthusiasm for morbid spectacle.  The movies recreate that experience in a sleek, thrilling, two-and-a-half hour long package.

Like any book-to-film adaptation, viewers will likely find some points of contest, but The Hunger Games does what it aims to do so well that it’s hard to fault it too much for what it doesn’t do.

Moviegoers, like the citizens of the Capital, can’t take their eyes off The Hunger Games.