If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Young-adult film series, along with other types of entertainment, run in cycles. It grasps the age group's eye and sticks to them like a parasite sucking every bit of life out of said series. Whether it be a good set of films or bad, there will always be a winner in the bloodbath of young-adult entertainment. Harry Potter set the bar for most of what we see today and everything after became sort of a "copy-cat." Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), failed without a grasp of the story-telling. Eragon (2006) couldn't pull it's head around the fantasy world. Percy Jackson & the Olympians (2010), couldn't get over it's strong cast to tell an actual Greek-mythology tale. Then there was Twilight (2008). Believe what you may, but what Twilight did (with the only smarts it had) was marketing. Not only does The Hunger Games follow that technique, but it also tells a great revolutionist story with a director at the helm who knows how to craft scenes of danger and heart.
The film's heroin is, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who lives with her Mother (Paula Malcomson) and her younger sister, Prim (Willow Shields). The series is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, which is separated into 12 different districts, each with a certain "class." Every year the Capitol (their government), holds their annual Hunger Games. These games cause them to select one boy and one girl from the ages of 12-18, from each district to be put into an arena to fight to the death, which will be broad casted on live television. The reason for such cruel, lunacy is to prevent any uprisings toward the Capitol, and to show all it's residents that no one can rise above such power. After Prim is picked for the games, Katniss volunteers instead and takes her little sister's place. Along with her male partner, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss must train while, fighting conflicting emotions between Peeta and her childhood best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), to save her district and beat the Hunger Games, the Capitol, and the Capitol's leader, President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
The Hunger Games brings one major philosophy to the table. If you have a strong director who cares about their project and has enough experience along with a good track-record, it will be hard for them to make a bad film. Gary Ross directs his third film here, being previously focused on Pleasantville (1998) and Seabiscuit (2003), both being very good films as well. What Ross does is, he makes the film his own, without destroying the work it is based off. This isn't master-full filmmaking, but it is on the verge of incredible. Some shaky-camera work is thrown here and there, but with the goal of a PG-13 rating, it's hard to keep away from teenagers brutally killing each other. He gets together an amazing cast and takes an actress he knows will be the next Hollywood star, and makes her that. The business needs to understand that there are directors that are passionate about certain stories and can make incredible films out of that, it just requires patience.
There is no secret that the rising star is, Jennifer Lawrence. She is such an incredible actress that it not only moves you, but makes her one of the best of our time. All of the films she is in shines a light on this girl and you cannot help but smile. She is Katniss and you cannot imagine any other actress doing what she does here. The first 10 minutes will make you tear up when she sacrifices herself for her sister. Her performance is outstanding along with the rest of this cast. I was more skeptical of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, since he had been more of a "Disney" actor in my eyes, but surprisingly he really takes this film and makes Peeta his own. Liam Hemsworth is also great as Gale. The real two other focuses for acting in this film is both, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. Harrelson plays Haymitch who is Katniss' and Peeta's drunkard mentor. Harrelson is fantastic in this part. He is mean but at the same time a wholehearted character who cares for these kids. Lenny Kravitz plays Cinna, Katniss' and Peeta's stylist. Lenny Kravitz is a rock star (for those who didn't know) and plays the flamboyant, sympathetic, and sincere character to help Katniss rise above the others. Both these actors deserve as much credit as Jennifer Lawrence will get for this film.
There is one part that did get to me and cut the film short from being near perfect. It was the pacing. It was so good, it was moving so fast and then there is a point in the third-quarter of the film that cuts all the pacing off and then it starts to move slower than it should have; until the climactic ending which, isn't very climactic. It just seemed to be there, and then it ends. I was never excited for the second film, it just ended like a knock on a hollow wall. This film shouldn't have felt slow at that point. It's supposed to build up suspense and get your blood flowing, but it doesn't.
In the end, what The Hunger Games is, is a great piece of survival science-fiction. Even though the ending was a little lackluster, I am still excited for the second film and I hope the series goes into a great and dark abyss as the books do. The film is definitely a Full-Price! It's brutal, fun, imaginative, and has a great cast. This blows Twilight so far out of the water, that there isn't even a comparison.