Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg, Isabelle Fuhrman, and many more.
Directed by: Gary Ross Screenplay by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray Based on the Novel by: Suzanne Collins Original Music by: T-Bone Burnett and James Newton Howard
Premise: Volunteering to take her twelve year old sister's place when the latter is picked from the Tribute lottery for the Hunger Games, Katniss must train and gain every advantage she can before being placed in a competition where only one of the twenty four children made to compete will come out alive. (Rated PG-13)
Before I begin, I will state that I have not read the young adult series of books this movie is based on so observations are purely on what was presented in the film.
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up - Despite a large number of the cast being teenagers, the casting director, Debra Zane, did a phenomenal job of finding actors and actresses that could go the distance despite their young years. Jennifer Lawrence was a great choice for the lead. Josh Hutcherson, which has never failed to please, was phenomenal. From the smallest parts to the largest, everyone was on their game adding their depth to the fascinating culture of the Hunger Games.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up - From force fields, DNA manipulated wasps, computer consoles, and more, the CGI was great! The added illusion to some pieces of clothing was fantastic. Vehicles and the Capital long view were also very nicely done.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up - It moved along well, with many subtle undercurrents that told stories in and of themselves. For the most part things fit and made sense. Only points that caused problems were: where did Peeta get paint, and if you could make Insta Demon Dogs, why isn't some of this tech not used in the Districts to save coal miners. (Post movie discussion did lead to the possibility that a) the TV peeps had a humongous budget to afford things the Districts couldn't b) that it would only work in that domed environment c) since it's a book adaptation some info might have been lost in translation or d) got thrown into the script to up the suspense without thinking too deeply - I'll leave it to you to decide which you believe.)
4) Stunts - Thumbs Up - I am not a fan of shaky cam, especially when it's used to make action look more than it is. That being said, it was used in small doses, so it never got out of hand, for which I am grateful. Otherwise they were well done and fluid, so looked natural.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up - From the squalor of District 11 to the riches of the Capitol, everything fit and looked authentic. Great atmosphere at every location.
6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up - The differences between the Districts and the Capitol were like night and day between clothing, makeup, and hair styles. The Capitol styles definitely screamed of decadence and leisure, as well as escapism and shallow veneers. The frontier town look for the poorer Districts was a nice touch, though it did seem to be pushed a little much with the emaciated looking people when the heroine looked incredibly healthy in comparison though her own life had been as harsh if not more than most after the loss of the main bread winner in her family. And with wild game (illegal as well) being scarcer every year... But aside from that, kudos! Wait till you see the shaped beard on Seneca Crane - dang! Some truly imaginative (if sometimes glaring) looks.
The makeup for the combat wounds and wasp swollen face were very well done. Wet and gory but not too much! Just enough for the 'ew' and 'flinching' factors to kick in.
Conclusion: Definitely worth seeing. Enough politics and subtle topics to enthrall the adults with plenty of action, competition, and budding teenage angst for the teenagers. While the deaths are not graphic, this might still make the film a little too intense for viewers under twelve.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)