Games’ trilogy starts strong, sweeps the globe

The global phenomenon is here. Suzanne Collins’s trilogy, The Hunger Games, made it to the big screen last Friday, and fans were more than enthusiastic. Making $19.7 million from midnight viewings alone, The Hunger Games is already a hit.

[media-credit id=15 align=”aligncenter” width=”741″][/media-credit]With a great cast and filming, both fans and those new to the storyline can be assured that their two and a half hours will be well spent. Avid fans may be disappointed that some parts have been left out or changed, but those who have never read the books won’t miss a thing.

To the book fans who are thinking of skipping it because it isn’t all of the book, don’t. You’ll want to form an opinion for yourself, and could you really stand the suspense of everyone else talking about it? It’s an adaptation of a very detailed book, and a good one at that.

Filmmakers took a gamble by only showing bits of the story’s excitement in the trailer, and it seems to have paid off. The Hunger Games is estimated to have brought in $155 million in its first weekend, which puts it in third place in opening weekend history behind Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows-Part 2 and The Dark Knight. As a testament to its profits, it cost $80 million to make and a mere $45 million to market. It must be mentioned that these statistics trumped all of the Twilight movies.

Those who aren’t fans may ask, “What are The Hunger Games and who is Katniss Everdeen?” The Games occur in a futuristic post-apocalyptic North America that is split into 12 districts. The Capitol (an all-governing body) is very corrupt, so the districts attempted to overthrow it. They failed and as a punishment, each district must send a teenage boy and girl to participate in the Games. Once selected, they are referred to as tributes and are put in a huge arena. Tributes fight to the death until a victor remains.

The movie did a fantastic job of making a futuristic Capitol. With the weird clothing, fluorescent hair and impressive technology, it is almost impossible to imagine it being anything else. The crew also did a great job of creating the poorer districts and in particular, District 12, where the heroine, Katniss Everdeen resides. Viewers feel like they too are in the Appalachian region surrounded by shanties. The only complaint from District 12 is the shaky camera action at the start of the film.

While more details could have been added to the movie, most of the cuts related to depictions of gore. Director Gary Ross allowed enough carnage to stay in step with the books, but cut enough to avoid an R rating which would have killed the teen novel’s fan base. The Hunger Games has a good balance of sentimental and semi-graphic moments to keep viewers happy. As a matter of fact, fans are more likely miss the  emotional, and introspective moments that couldn’t be conveyed, rather than the graphic violence that couldn’t fit in.

Liam Hemsworth (Gale), Jack Quaid (Marvel), Amandla Stenberg (Rue), Leven Rambin (Glimmer) and Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh) provided more insight into filming at an exclusive Atlanta roundtable. Cast members reportedly grew close over the filming and underwent some intense make-up time and training.

[media-credit id=15 align=”aligncenter” width=”336″][/media-credit]Quaid noted how hard it was filming the combat scenes with friends while Rambin mentioned that it took five hours to transform into a tribute attacked by tracker jackers (genetically engineered killer wasps). Okeniyi discussed the strict diet and training regiment most cast members had to endure during filming.

Hemsworth decided to take the ‘hunger’ part seriously and lost 20 pounds, while 13 year old Amandla Stenberg spent her training time in trees and harnesses. The rest of the cast learned real combat skills and practiced with swords as well as the now iconic bow and arrow Katniss favors. Two of the four filming months were solely dedicated to training.

As far as graphics, most of everything that could be real was. The movie is so futuristic that Hollywood magicians could not replicate everything, though. The most noted of these edits is the iconic ‘girl on fire’ ensemble, which was clearly computer animated.

Jennifer Lawrence makes a perfect Katniss, although the movie can’t translate all of her thoughts. This, perhaps, is the biggest shortcoming of the adaptation, as the book explains her actions in great and moving detail.

The absence was well balanced, however, by a caring Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a concerned Gale, who only made a few appearances. Fans seem to anticipate Gale being more present in future installments, with the second being set to film this summer. All are hoping that the following movies will be even better than the first installment.