Friday, March 23, 2012

'The Hunger Games' puts film critic on edge of his seat

By Alex Domine, A&E Columnist

My heart rate pulsed rapidly, I started to sweat and I wouldn’t be surprised if my eyes dilated when I watched the premiere of The Hunger Games.

The movie is based on the young adult novel by Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world. There are 12 districts where children between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each to be “tributes” required to participate in The Hunger Games.

The film was abundant with scenes that were stressful to watch.

The 24 children fight to the death like gladiators in the jungle until a single victor is standing. The prize: fame and riches for their hungry family.

The cinematography throughout the film falls somewhere within the marriage of The Blair Witch Project and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The juxtaposition between the outrageous personalities clad with neon shades and the macabre interpretation of the Olympics made me uncomfortable from the opening scene.

That discomfort in tandem with the imagery of children slaughtering each other was a cardio experience.

Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence played the female lead, Katniss Everdeen.

Lawrence gracefully marched the line between fierce and deadpan. Her expressionless portrayal was just enough to give me a good idea of Katniss’s life of hardship.

Josh Hutcherson played Peeta, the romantic male lead in this installment of the trilogy.

Too often do teen heartthrobs bank on pretty eyes and a sharp jawline for good reviews.

Hutcherson surprised me.

He brought the right amount of schmooze and charm to make the audience believe that he would give you his last loaf of bread.

The lack of context in the movie, however, was disappointing.

You need to pay acute attention to get the appropriate background knowledge.

It was obvious that the makers were relying on the audience to have read the book.

I wouldn’t have known that asking for food meant a greater chance of being chosen as a tribute if I didn’t catch the fleeting three seconds when Katniss mentioned it.

Stanley Tucci as the outrageous talk show host, Caesar, was brilliant. I’d expect nothing less from Tucci.

Woody Harelson was cast well as the perpetually intoxicated Haymitch.

His entrance was reminiscent of Billy Ray Cyrus at a saloon.

Lenny Kravitz proved skeptics wrong by playing compassion well as Cinna.

The Hunger Games was more taxing on my emotions than I expected it would be, which is a good thing.

I was all too familiar with the edge of my seat while watching the film, and I admittedly had to shut my eyes for some scenes.

I may have even shed half a tear. If I walk out of a movie feeling like I just crossed the finish line of the Tour de France, I’m satisfied.