Before leaving for a screening of The Hunger Games I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter that I hadn’t yet read the books, and not surprisingly everyone who commented said they had torn through all of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, some even multiple times. One even joked that I should be forbidden from seeing the movie if I haven’t read at least the first in the series. (I forgot to tell her that I definitely plan on reading it, which is more than I can say about the vampire story that’s been sitting on my nightstand for four years.)
But even without the benefit of having read the book, The Hunger Games is an entertaining and exciting film that can stand on its own. I immediately loved Jennifer Lawrence as the strong-willed and independent Katniss Everdeen, the 16-year-old heroine – smart, tough and an expert shot, she’s still just awkward enough to be relatable and endearing. Katniss is the type of role model I’d hand-pick for my teen daughters, and in fact I’m betting armies of adolescent girls will want to emulate her – and sign up for archery lessons – after seeing the film.
For those few people not familiar with the story, the film takes place in a post-apocalyptic America that has been divided into 12 districts. Each year a teenage boy and girl are randomly selected from each district to compete in the Hunger Games – Katniss and Peeta Mellark are the unlucky two in this go-around – who fight to kill until only one is left alive. It’s a dark story, and I hear the movie shied away from some of the more sinister parts of the book in order to keep its PG-13 rating.
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is a perfect counterpart to Katniss. Much more self-conscious and unsure than Gale (Liam Hemsworth) – the boy that Katniss left back at home – Josh plays the part with a vulnerability that makes his transformation into a capable warrior even more fun to watch. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was one of my favorites – I would have liked to have seen more of his character – and Lenny Kravitz is powerful yet comforting as Katniss’ stylist Cinna.
I know most of you will be seeing the midnight showing of The Hunger Games on Thursday (March 23) so I won’t say any more about the movie except to predict that you won’t be disappointed. As for me, I’m off to read the books – I’d better hurry before the movie version of Catching Fire comes out.