As the press embargo is lifted, film critics are sharing full-length reviews of The Hunger Games. Last week, we shared a few tweets from journalists who seemed very positive about the movie. But, are the full reviews just as positive?
Well, the short answer is yes. Naturally, responses vary a little between each publication – but the film has yet to receive a review giving it any less than four stars. Below are a few extracts from the various articles.
Empire – Four stars
Probably the greatest achievement of The Hunger Games, and there are many, is that in adapting a phenomenally successful teen novel its creative team have produced something that works as a film, not just as an adaptation of a book. There’s no required reading before entering the cinema in order to ‘get it’, and it’s well above the ‘all your favourite bits but with pictures’ business that has become the accepted standard. When a series has sold millions of copies, as Suzanne Collins’ trilogy has, the default position is to produce something that will look just as readers imagined, to show what we were all thinking, rather than offer something nobody had considered. The Hunger Games as a novel has been dissected, expanded and retooled into something intelligent, immersive and powerfully current.
Total Film – Four stars
Lawrence’s shining star is orbited by other casting successes. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci amuse as media grotesques Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman, also tying for Best Worst Wig/Make-Up.
Wes Bentley is smoothly ruthless as gamemaker Seneca Crane, quietly conspiring with Donald Sutherland’s slyly sadistic President Snow. The glory-hungry Career Tributes – ie the cool kids – are a suitably hateful mob, headed by Alexander Ludwig’s sneering Cato.
Lenny Kravitz (Katniss’ sympathetic stylist) probably shouldn’t start clearing space on his awards shelf, but you can’t have everything.
The Telegraph – Five stars
Ross and his cinematographer Tom Stern, capture the action up close with twitchy, often hand-held camerawork: not only is it a perfect match for the punchy, urgent prose of Collins’s novel, it lends the film a teenager’s heart-in-mouth hyper-awareness. The screenplay, co-written by Ross, Collins and Billy Ray, deftly pulls together all of the novel’s itchiest themes: the Faustian pact of instant celebrity; the ever-broadening gap between the have-nots and the haves; the basic human urge to confer narrative, and so meaning, on human life in all its nasty, brutish brevity.
The Hunger Games is an essential science fiction film for our times; perhaps the essential science fiction film of our times. Whatever your age, it demands to be devoured.
As for visual spectacle, there’s enough but, along with it, a feeling of being slightly shortchanged; the long shots of gigantic cityscapes, of a fast train gliding silkily through the country, of massive crowds gathered to see this year’s gladiators before they set off to kill one another, of the decorative flames emanating from the leads’ costumes as the pair is presented to the public for the first time — all are cut a bit short, as if further exposure would reveal them as one notch below first-rate. On the other hand, the costumes and makeup are a riot of imagination designed to evoke a level of topped-out decadence comparable to that of Nero’s Rome or Louis XVI’s Paris.
Den Of Geek – Four stars
Gary Ross is a brave man. He’d need to be, of course, to take on a project like The Hunger Games: the books have sold millions of copies, and have attracted both intense adulation and fierce criticism. The movie is a big deal, and the weight of its success or failure sits on his shoulders, so just making it requires courage.
But Ross has done more than churn out a faithful adaptation of the book. His vision of the world of The Hunger Games is bigger, scarier, darker, and more political than the books ever dared to be.
Impressive reviews indeed! The film already seems to have fared better with critics than the Twilight series, and quite a few of the Harry Potter films as well. Reviews also stress that the film has little in common with its fellow book-to-film adaptations – although fans of the books already knew that. Something else we can glean from the reviews is the confirmation that the film will run at 2 hours and 22 minutes (UK fans will presumably get 2 hours, 21 minutes and 53 seconds).
You can keep track of reviews as more come in over on the films Rotten Tomatoes page, and keep checking back here as we will be updating this post with more reviews from top critics as we find them.
Are you glad that the film has received so many positive reviews? Do you think the great response will move some of the cynics to give the film a chance?