Okay, so my inner gay tween has eagerly been awaiting to see this film since it was announced, and I squealed when a friend got us tickets to an opening-night screening in Vancouver. This is the first movie in a string of films based on the hugely popular young-adult novel series by Suzanne Collins. So for you Hunger Games newbies, this is what it’s all about: Each year, a future dystopian society called Panem selects one boy and one girl from each of the 12 Districts via lottery to battle to the death in an annual televised spectacle called, you guessed it, The Hunger Games. Twenty-four will battle, but only one will survive as the winner. In District 12, a girl named Katniss Everdeen volunteers to fight in place of her younger sister. And so the story begins…. Got it? Good. So was the film worth the wait? Read on!
The good: There are so many things to like about this film, directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville). The screenplay is a faithful adaptation of the novel, and fans of the book series will not be disappointed with the on-screen treatment provided. But the standout is not the special effects, or how the teens who are chosen die. It’s Jennifer Lawrence’s (Winter’s Bone, X-Men: First Class) portrayal of the heroine that’s the standout. Her acting ability is miles ahead of those pouty Twilight brats, and she gives a stellar performance. The supporting cast is worth noting, boasting notable names like Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, and Lenny Kravitz (who knew he could act?!). All around, the production is top-notch.
The gay: Wow. Lots of man/boy candy to stare at! The young lads that inhabit Katniss’s life are quite yummy, from her best friend Gale Hawthorne, portrayed by Aussie hunk/Miley Cyrus beau Liam Hemsworth (The Last Dance) (insert high-pitched screams here!), and her male combatant counterpart from District 12, Peeta Mellark, played by doe-eyed cutie Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) (cue more high-pitched screams!). Heck, even the male supporting cast is hot, from Lenny Kravitz’ turn as Cinna, Wes Bentley (American Beauty) as Seneca Crane, and hot daddy Stanley Tucci, portraying the suave Guy Smiley-like Caesar Flickerman, host of the Hunger Games, and providing a boost of maleness that many a gay boy can fantasize about. Looking at this stellar cast of men made me hunger for a different kind of gameplay….
Oh, and some of the dresses that Katniss wears are faaaabulous!
The bad: Not too much is bad about this movie. The blood and gore that the original book portrayed isn’t here, but they do an effective job of portraying the brutality in a PG-13 sort of way. The story isn’t too complicated (c’mon, we’re talking about young-adult fiction!), so for those expecting a more intellectually stimulating film, you should spend your money elsewhere. And sitting in a theater full of Hunger Games-obsessed teens is not an easy thing to endure.
The fugly: Although the production value of this film was high, what was up with those god-awful wig/costume combos that the opulent citizens of The Capitol were wearing? They oftentimes looked like something out of a bad My Chemical Romance music video! It was like Willy Wonka meets bad hipster nightmare. Speaking of Wonka, the blue pompadour that Tucci sported with that sparkly leisure suit made me wish he’d burst into song and sing “Pure Imagination” a la Gene Wilder.
Does it truly satisfy your hunger?: The film works on many levels, and the story is quite entrancing. Lawrence really shines, and there’s so much that fans and newcomers alike will enjoy. The Hunger Games franchise is off to a good start, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the next film. Should you see it? Yes. That is, if you can somehow beat out the obsessed tween fangirls/boys in actually getting a ticket to see the movie.
The grade: A-