Set in a dystopian society, in what used to be North America, stands the Capitol and 12 surrounding districts that provide the Capitol with raw materials and resources. The country, Panem, came to existence after a revolution occurred when District 13 was destroyed. As compensation for the revolution a boy and a girl are selected every year as tributes from each district and thrown in an arena to fight to the death. Only the final victor may leave. Katniss Everdeen, a 17 year old girl who was forced to take her father’s place when a mining accident kills him, lives in District 12 where she must hunt and gather food to keep her mother and sister from starving. When her sister, Prim Everdeen, is arbitrarily chosen as a tribute, Katniss boldly volunteers to take her place, since it meant certain death for Prim. Katniss, along with the male tribute from district 12, Peeta Mellark, are thrown into an arena where there are stronger and more dangerous competitors. But Katniss gets an even bigger surprise when she receives more than she anticipates in the arena.
“The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins, has printed 17.5 million copies books as of March 28th. The entire trilogy sold 36.5 million copies with “Catching Fire” selling 10 million copies and “Mockingjay” printed 9 million copies. “The Hunger Games” is now the new teenage thriller after “Harry Potter” and “Twilight.” Since opening on March 23, the movie recorded $152,535,747 in opening weekend box hits on March 25th, and the movie now ranks third after “Harry Potter 7,” Part 2, and “The Dark Night.” Gary Ross, the director of the 142-minute thriller, cost an estimated 80 million dollars to produce. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. When asked about whether the actors fit the characters from the book well, freshman Michael Delgado said, “…looking back in the book I don’t think that they could have made any better choices. They fit the characterization from the book perfectly.” Mountlake Terrace students seemed to flock to the movies to see the 12 a.m. showing. The film received a PG-13 rating for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens.
According to IMDB “The Hunger Games” received 7.6 out of 10. But freshman Stephen Cuplin says, “Well, I thought some of the bad ratings that it’s gotten have been pretty miscellaneous because, I mean, obviously you can’t make the movie better than the book. But you can’t bash too much on the movie if they followed it to the best of their ability.” When asked about what Cuplin didn’t like about the movie, he said, “I don’t think I could have changed the movie to make it better except for some of the costumes that the other districts wore. They looked strange…” Despite general dislikes, the movie proved to be an enormous success and viewers internationally were entertained. “The Hunger Games” national catch phrase, “The world will be watching”, proved to be true as it currently holds the spot for the third best movie on opening weekend.
“The Hunger Games” book received countless prestigious awards and nominees that include being on the #1 New York Times Bestseller List, A Kirkus Best Book of 2008, and a Booklist Editor’s Choice 2008, according to Suzanne Collins website. The book has received high praises from popular authors Stephanie Myers, author of Twilight, and Stephen King, author of horror novels. Reviews from School Library Journal say, “Collin’s characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds: the plot is tense dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘Gladiator’”
Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss Everdeen, also received critical acclaim from critics and viewers, along with Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne).
When asking Junior Nancy Nguyen about whether she liked the actors who played for the characters in the book, she answered, “Well, Jennifer Lawrence she’s just an amazing actress so I liked her. Liam Hemsworth fit his character pretty well. And Josh Hutcherson, I mean, he’s perfect, so.”
According to an interview featuring in “Empire Magazine” Gary Ross, the director, certainly seemed happy about the casting actors. When asked about Jennifer Lawrence and her responsibility of taking on the lead role, he said, “If she hadn’t been born I don’t know what I would have done. I work with a lot of great actors, but in my life I don’t think I’ve ever worked with anyone more talented. She just has this strong vitality; she knows her own strength and doesn’t hide it in any way.”
For those who haven’t watched the movie or read the book, Katniss, an illegal hunter and the supporter of her family after her father’s death, enters a game where she must kill opponents to survive. Katniss allies with Peeta, the male tribute from her district, and pretends to have feeling for him in order to win over the audience and help gain sponsors. The movie is main streamed on Katniss’ relationship with Peeta, though it contains very graphic scenes.
During an interview with Gary Ross, featured in “Empire Magazine,” the director says, “In this very harsh universe where these kids are literally forced to fight for their own survival, Katniss fights for her own humanity. At first she’s just fighting to live and in the end she finds something she is willing to die for.”
Although the movie concentrates on a theme of love, or issues that arise in totalitarian governments, while readers may perceive the theme differently, the film received a PG-13 rating for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images, all involving teens. Senior Monea Kerr said, “Well, the action scenes were really good and it was a lot more graphic than I thought it would be, which was cool. [But] it kind of scared me in a way because it was really realistic.”
Ross was asked a similar question and replied, “I don’t think it has to be violent in order to be urgent. For the majority of the movie Katniss is being pursued and it’s a violent universe she’s in. But that doesn’t mean the violence has to be depicted gruesomely or exploited in any way.”
Like Kerr, many people watched the movie without reading the book. Unfortunately, when asking Kerr if she could have changed the movie to improve it she said, “I think [they should] explain it [the story] a little bit more because I was kind of confused throughout the movie and then at some point in the movie it clicked like what was actually happening. I didn’t understand the whole process of “The Hunger Games” until like the end, when they kind of went back through it. So I thought it was kind of confusing for people who haven’t read the book yet.”
Most students that have read the book seemed to think that the book was better than the movie, though some believed them to be equally good. Freshman, Michael Delgado, said, “I think there was some stuff in the movie that shouldn’t have been in and I think they left a lot of stuff out that was in the book. But at the same time I think the book put unnecessary detail on some stuff, so it’s close and they’re both better in their own way.”
Hunger Games enthusiasts are in luck as Lionsgate studios has already begun preparation for the sequel of “The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire,” which debuts November 22nd, 2013. Although Ross has been replaced by Francis Lawrence, director of “I Am Legend” and other various films, it is sure to be just as successful.