1. Ryan Gosling in Fracture (2007) with Anthony Hopkins
2. Anthony Hopkins in Hearts in Atlantis (2001) with Anton Yelchin
3. Anton Yelchin in The Beaver (2011) with Jennifer Lawrence
4. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games (2012)
Young adult book-to-movie adaptations can be some of the riskiest gambles for Hollywood movie studios. Eragon, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Cirque de Freak (also starring Josh Hutcherson) are just a few examples of gambles that didn’t exactly pay off for their respective studios. But every now and then a phenomenon like The Hunger Games comes along.
The Hunger Games is a big movie with a large scope and an even larger premise. Twenty four teens fighting for their lives in a high-tech area created by an evil government! This thing was hard to pull off, but writers Gary Ross (who also serves as director), Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins (who is making millions from writing The Hunger Games books right now) somehow make the entire movie feel small and self-contained. Which is a good thing.
It’s the scenes between two characters, not the action scenes, that audiences will walk away remembering here. Destined-to-be-superstars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (whose role will be larger in the upcoming sequels) inhabit their roles with extreme ease. And the scenes between Lawrence and Hutcherson are truly great.
The games people are playing in this movie are life or death, but it’s the interactions between the characters leading up to the games and during the games itself that create the most drama. Ross and co. have clearly realized that with this movie, creating a small-scale drama disguised as a action-packed studio pic. And best of all, the movie works on its own. So stop comparing it to the book.