I first read "The Hunger Games" out of pure necessity this summer. Let me explain.
I first fell upon "The Hunger Games" novel while I was in West Africa on a backpacking trip with my aunt. I only had two pieces of media to entertain myself with each evening when I was finished hiking and adjusting to culture shock for the day: this book and a tabloid magazine. I opted for the book. And what a fantastic choice it turned out to be.
Like most people who have read the popular novel by Suzanne Collins, I tore through the book like a tribute might tear through a scavenged rabbit in the arena. As soon as I returned to the Internet-connected world, I learned there was a movie in the making. My anticipation to see the film grew from that moment on.
So the day the movie came out, I donned my side braid a la Katniss and took off to see "The Hunger Games" once and for all.
"The Hunger Games" takes place in a distopic society in which every year 24 young people, one male and one female from each of 12 districts, are chosen at random to partake in a fight to the death, with the victor being the last standing alive. For 73 years, this title tradition had continued on smoothly. This Hunger Games takes place on the 74th year, however, and a unique tribute named Katniss Everdeen proves to be a game-changer. Ruthless to protect her little sister Prim and especially critical of her society, Katniss uses her signature archery skills and familiarity with near-death situations to keep an edge over the others, all without losing her sensitivity to humanity.
The film was fantastically cast. Jennifer Lawrence, who was an Oscar nominee for her strikingly similar role in "Winter's Bone," plays Katniss' tough-girl-with-a-heart personality to a tee. "The Last Song" hunk Liam Hemsworth stars as her best friend Gale, who is countered by her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in a B-plot love triangle.
Other striking performances were by Stanley Tucci, who played Caesar Flickerman, the gregarious host and commentator of the televised games, and Elizabeth Banks, who plays Effie, Katiniss' prim-and-proper handler.
Going into the movie, I was concerned that the first-person narrative of the book would make it difficult to transfer over to a movie script. My concerns were met with a fantastic screenplay, however, with explanation of Katniss' inner-dialogue coming from outside sources.
The movie keeps the intensity of the games without being too gruesome thanks to the clever cinematography. Shaky camera shots and unconventional point-of-view angles increase the suspense and mimic the perspectives of each of the characters.
The special effects in this movie weren't stellar, but with a little suspension of disbelief they worked well. The futuristic Capitol city was a bit cheesy at times, and the infamous fiery costumes that Katniss and Peeta wear during the pre-games pageant could have been better, but it was all small in comparison to the fantastic performances and well-adapted screenplay.
Although some parts of the book are left out, including entire characters and relatively important scenes, this movie stayed very close to the plot line of the first novel in the trilogy.
"The Hunger Games" movie definitely went above and beyond my expectations after reading the book. The most emotional scenes brought the theater to tears, and the suspenseful ones pushed viewers to the edge of their seats even though the majority already knew what was going to happen.
Regardless of whether one hasn't read the book or is an avid fan who has read the entire trilogy, "The Hunger Games" will not disappoint.
Emmie Oliver is a senior at St. Joseph Catholic High School. She can be found on the volleyball court or climbing mountains in her free time. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.