Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Let’s get one thing clear from the start. I haven’t read the books (yet). I know, shoot me.Point is, I might have missed some things that were in the book, but not the movie. Secondly, this review will purely focus on the quality of the film and not about how it compares to the novels.

The Hunger Games is a movie based on the novels by by Suzanne Collins. It was first published on September 14, 2008. ‘The Hunger Games‘ is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, published on September 1, 2009, and Mockingjay, published on August 24, 2010.

Now, time for a little back story (don’t worry, I won’t spoil … much!). In a not too distant future (you can tell because they all have weird names *wink*), several years after a great war we meet Katniss Everdeen, a teenager with a knack for shooting arrows through the eyes of squirrels. Times hard and things are bad. Food is hard to come by (hence the squirrels). To commemorate the great war, the people of ‘The Capital’ hold an annual competition dubbed ‘The Hunger Games’ with the slogan  “And may the odds be ever in your favor”. Every year, each of the 12 districts send 2 teenagers to compete in the Hunger Games.  They get elected through a lottery, and their names are not entered voluntarily. These 24 teenagers will fight to the death until 1 victor remains who brings eternal glory to his or her district.

Naturally, Katniss Everdeen’s sister, Prim, gets chosen upon which Katniss herself volunteers to go in her sister’s place. She and the boy from district 12 go to the capital to compete. I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, it’s fairly predictable anyhow.

So, what did I think of the movie? Well, it was quite good actually though I was sceptical at first. At times, I found it a bit predictable but that wasn’t a major concern and did not blemish my movie experience. The setting, decor and style of the movie are more than satisfying and manage to display the striking difference between poor (Fallout 3 style) and the decadent capital very well.

The costumes could have sprouted from Tim Burton’s mind and the overall feel of the movie sits just right.

Suffice to say, director Gary Ross did an amazing job (which is reflected by the box office revenues). Jennifer Lawrence (X-men: First Class) plays Katniss Everdeen, and does so quite well. Josh Hutcherson‘s performance, however, isn’t as good in my opinion and pales a little next to Jennifer Lawrence’s. Furthermore, we see Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider, American Beauty); an actor most people seem to have forgotten about – unjustified in my opinion. Woody Harrelson (The People VS. Larry Flynt) brings the humourous undertone to the movie to lighten the atmosphere a bit (he plays his signature half-mad drunkard).

Conclusion: The Hunger Games is a very good and enjoyable movie that has the right feel and good acting overall. It doesn’t shy away from showing from the often harsh, graphic and slightly perverse decisions made in the story all in the name of good television. Go watch it if you haven’t yet, it’s worth your money.

Niels Van Hellemont

Assassin’s Creed 3 Has Got Me Excited !

A couple of days ago, Ubisoft released a trailer and the cover art for their new Assassin’s Creed game. Now that the story of Ezio Auditore is over we’re finally moving on to Assassin’s Creed III. The short trailer (look below)  tells us quite a few things. First of all we know the time period the game will take place in. The game will take place in North America during the American Revolutionary War in the 18th century.

Don’t know what the Revolutionary War is? Well, here’s some background information for you.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.

The war was the result of the political American Revolution. Colonists galvanized around the position that the Stamp Act of 1765, imposed by Parliament of Great Britain, was unconstitutional. The British Parliament insisted it had the right to tax colonists. The colonists claimed that, as they were British subjects, taxation without representation was illegal. The American colonists formed a unifying Continental Congress and a shadow government in each colony, though ostensibly claiming loyalty to the monarch and a place in the British Empire. The American boycott of directly taxed British tea led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. London responded by ending self-government in Massachusetts and putting it under the control of the British army with General Thomas Gage as governor. In April 1775 Gage learned that weapons were being gathered in Concord, and he sent British troops to seize and destroy them. Local militia, known as ‘minutemen,’ confronted the troops and exchanged fire (see Battles of Lexington and Concord). After repeated pleas to the British monarchy for intervention with Parliament, any chance of a compromise ended when the Congress were declared traitors by royal decree, and they responded with a declared independence forming a new sovereign nation external to the British Empire, the United States of America, on July 4, 1776.

In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded roughly by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.

As I mentioned above, the Ezio story arc is over and we’ll be moving on to a new protagonist who appears to be armed with a tomahawk. Connor (our protagonist’s name) is darting through snowy woodland to help a few British shoulders to the eternal hunting grounds. So it seems he’s helping the Americans in their fight for independence against the British. I guess it will be a welcome change from the overdose of rooftops we had in the previous AC games.

Producer Ubisoft says that, on the moment of release (31 October), the game will have been in development for 3 years. The crew working on the game is double the size as usual and the game is being developed with the new AnvilNext engine for even smoother graphics.

Assassin’s Creed 3 will be released on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 AND the Wii U.

Personally, I think it’s a good choice to have the game take place during the American Revolutionary War and I’m excited to see what Ubisoft will do with the wide open battlefields en dense forest areas. The long wait until 31 October begins …

/Niels