This is it, guys. After months (or years, if you've been a fan of the books since the beginning) of waiting, The Hunger Games finally opens tonight at midnight in theaters around the world! We're finally going to get the chance to see Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and the whole supporting crew bring the crazy, thrilling, totally messed-up world of Panem to life on the big screen!
But what did the critics think? Did Jennifer Lawrence do Katniss justice? How did director Gary Ross handle the brutal-yet-necessary scenes of violence? How does the film adaptation hold up against the novel? And is the film really deserving of its constant comparisons to Twilight or does it deserve its own place in the pop culture history books? Check out what the reviewers had to say below! (Hint: they loved it.)
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter:
"At the center of things most of the time, Lawrenceremains compelling all the way. As in Winter'sBone, she's onscreenalone, or nearly so, a great deal, and she holds one's attentionunselfconsciously, without asking for attention or even doing much other thanthe task at hand. Lawrence is one of those performers the camera loves; herappearance alters in different scenes and shots -- lingering baby fat showshere, she resembles a Cleopatra there -- and she can convey a lot by doinglittle. An ideal screen actress."
Leslie Gornstein of E! Online:
"This film will not disappoint—much. Lead actress JenniferLawrence is at her best when she's miserable, and her character is not ahappy survivalist as she's tossed into a giant outdoor cage match to the death.(After 3 minutes, you won't be able to imagine anyone else playing KatnissEverdeen, trust.) Director Gary Ross actually outpaces thebreathless clip of Suzanne Collins' novel. He also takes pains to honormany of the smallest details: Cinna's gold eyeliner, Katniss's braid, EffieTrinket's cotton-candy-colored wigs. But Ross does diverge from Collins's beloved novel in atleast three key points, including the jarring climax at the Cornucopia. So ifyou're the kind of person who insists on slavish retellings of novels on thebig screen, stay home."
Christy Lemire of the Associated Press:
"Fans should bethoroughly satisfied with the faithfulness of Gary Ross' film, with itspropulsive nature and vivid imagery: a mix of decadent costumes andarchitecture and harsh, unforgiving exteriors. At its center is JenniferLawrence, an ideal choice to play this strong, independent young woman... Lawrence is endlessly watchable, and she better be, since she's innearly every single shot of Ross' film… The script adheres rather closely toCollins' novel... although it does truncate some of the subplots that give the book itsgreatest emotional heft as well as soften the brutal violence of the gamesthemselves, ostensibly in the name of securing a PG-13 rating. Still, the makersof The Hunger Games have managed thedifficult feat of crafting a film that feels both epic and intimate at once."
JoeNeumaier of NY DailyNews:
"It's a true shot to the heart! The Hunger Games [is] better and scarier than its source book, and aims anangry eye at our bloodthirsty, watch-anything-and-cheer culture. And there’s also pro-rebellion, anti-1% sentimentcoursing through its blood. While the dark allegory within Suzanne Collins’2008 publishing phenomenon remains intact, it’s anchored by a remarkableperformance from Jennifer Lawrence and — it has to be said —can’t-look-away action... An affecting Hutcherson and Hemsworth may matchLawrence’s ferocity with occasionally obvious earnestness, but they give Games — and its future sequels— a feistier triangle than the Twilightfilms. Meanwhile, a great supporting cast — toothy StanleyTucci as a horrific TV host, Donald Sutherland as a malevolentPresident and perfectly cast Woody Harrelson as drunken former Gamesvictor Haymitch Abernathy — indulges in modulated scenery-chewing."
Manohla Dargis of the New York Times:
"If you’ve seen the pint-size assassins in the recentaction flicks Kick-Ass and Hanna, which feature prepubescent girls wholock, load and shoot without batting a lash, you may think you’ve also seen itbefore. You haven’t, not really. Although the girls in those movies are vaguelysexualized, their age exempts them from the narrative burdens of heterosexualromance: They don’t have to bat those lashes at the boys and they don’t need tobe saved by them either, as in the Twilight series. What invests Katniss with suchexciting promise and keeps you rapt even when the film proves less than equallythrilling is that she also doesn’t need saving, even if she’s at an age when,most movies still insist, women go weak at the knees and whimper and weep whilewaiting to be saved. Again and again Katniss rescues herself withresourcefulness, guts and true aim, a combination that makes her insistentlywatchable."
DrewMcWeeny of HitFix:
"The film introduces a dense supporting cast, and there'sgreat work done by Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, andespecially Donald Sutherland as President Snow… Thething that finally pushes The Hunger Games over the top is theperformance by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, and finally, here's a popculture phenomenon centered around a female character who I can fully endorse,who manages real strength without simply being a female version of a malecharacter. She is strong, she is capable, she is emotional, and she ishuman, and the script, adapted by Ross and Billy Ray, allows Katniss all of herrough edges, and Lawrence invests her with a rich inner life that makes herfeel real. It is a pure movie star performance, and Lawrence rises to theoccasion… The Hunger Games is likely to be a major hit, and in thiscase, it deserves to be."
Chelsea Briggs of Hollywire.com:
"As a true Hunger Games fan, I can honestly say I walked out of the theatre with complete satisfaction! The way in which Gary Ross visually depicts the popular book on the big screen is spot-on and will leave fans very happy! With an on-point supporting cast including Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Wes Bently, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland - it's hard to pick a favorite. It is the supporting cast that brings about many well comedically timed moments that give the dark story line a much needed break. Jennifer Lawrence is flawless as Katniss, and her chemistry between both male leads Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson is apparent. The death scenes are hard to watch, but Ross does it in a way that is simple and less gory than they could be. I found myself very emotional during the reaping scene and Rue's death, which says a lot. All and all I believe The Hunger Games will be a big hit with audiences, and even gain the fan base of those who have since been skeptical of the story. So when watching the film, my wish to you is: 'may the odds be ever in your favor!'"
Are you even more excited to see The Hunger Games after reading these amazing reviews?
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate