I don’t even know where to begin. I’m overflowing with excitement as I type this! The Hunger Games movie lands in theatres this week, Friday, March 23 and I was fortunate enough to see the film TWICE already! Two different opportunities came up through work and naturally I jumped at the chance. Having obsessed over the trilogy book series by Suzanne Collins, I was beyond excited to see the characters and settings come to life. I was fretting that key elements of the plotline that I personally thought were important) would be left out altogether, simply to make the film a bit more concise. Thankfully, I’m happy to report, this film adaptation is one of THE BEST I have ever seen! With a few additional key speeches from President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland (inserted by director and screenplay writer Gary Ross), the film was 100% true to the original novel.

Every. Single. Scene. Was. Perfect.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. Her transformation from a poor and underprivileged teenager from District 12 in Panem, to ‘the girl on fire’ as a tribute in The Capital and 74th annual Hunger Games was utterly stunning. The two biggest surprises, in a good way, were Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’ stylist, Cinna, and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mallark, Katniss’ companion from District 12 throughout The Hunger Games. I was SO skeptical when I first heard that both of these men had landed their respective roles, as I had such a different idea in my mind after reading the books. Again, I am happy to report that these two men blew these roles out of the water and I quickly started questioning whether my own imagination had been wrong.

Similarly, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, and Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane were absolutely BRILLIANT! There wasn’t a single character I wish had been alternately cast. This ensemble truly embodied their respective characters, and I left the theatre absolutely in love with this film and their abilities.

There were a few standout moments throughout the film, and of course I’m going to share them with you. First, Stanley Tucci as Caeser Flickerman. Honestly, if you have read the book and then see the movie, there is no possible way you could disagree that he is outstanding in this role! At first I was startled by his blue hair; however, I was quickly overcome with glee as I saw endless Capital residents shown in their wild colors and drag-queen-esque attire. The Capital in itself was a city to marvel, with Greecian-inspired architecture that had me audibly gasping the first time it was shown. The futuristic design was simply stunning, complimented perfectly by the pops of color in clothing, makeup and hair of the people that call it home. In drastic comparison, the stark and bleak landscape of District 12 and its residents was equally mezmerizing. Katniss and Peeta’s origins, in bland, neutral clothing, pushed through a transition to become the girl and boy on fire, could quite possibly be my favorite part of the movie. This was one area of the film that I thought the CGI was done flawlessly. It was a sigh-fest for at least three minutes!

Fellow cast members Jonny and Tommy were in the audience as well, and afterwards we were all gushing about out favorites parts, and what sections, if any, the Director could have done better. My only wish was that the film was twenty minutes longer to allow for a bit more character development. Seriously, who wishes for a longer movie?! There were so many fantastic characters in the book that simply couldn’t be completely examined in the film, and I believe Gary Ross did the best he could with the plotline he captured. Perhaps we’ll see and learn more in the next film in the franchise, ‘Catching Fire‘!

My final note on the film and the most important part of the novel in my opinion was the relationship between Katniss and fellow Hunger Games contestant from District 11, Rue, played by Amanda Stenberg. In the book, this relationship really struck a chord with me as it was the perfect juxtaposition of Katniss’ life back in District 12 caring for her younger sister. I was desperately hoping the film makers would keep this portion of the story in the film AND do it justice. Thankfully, Ross also saw the importance of this storyline and character portrayal. If you haven’t read the book then I don’t want to spoil this relationship for you; however, the final scene with these two girls is spot-on, picture-perfect. I was clutching my imaginary pearls like no one was watching.

OMG, I could just go on and on and on. Every time I write about one scene, three more pop into my head that I want to gush on about. I won’t ruin it for you though! Trust me, you HAVE to see this movie. The Hunger Games film is BRILLIANT! Definitely the best movie of the year thus far!

The only side note I’d like to add to this article is in respect to the screening that I attended in Vancouver this past Wednesday. In attendance at our screening was one of the actors in the film, Alexander Ludwig, who plays Cato, the male tribute from District 2. There were a lot of book and film fans that came out to see this preview, so it was great that he took the time to sign autographs on what I can imagine to be an extremely long and grueling media tour. Unfortunately, I ended sitting in the row behind where he and a group of people he knew (I assume friends and family) were seated to watch the film. I can’t speculate on how many times he has probably seen this film at different screenings around North America; however, I found it wildly rude that he spend the majority of the film playing Angry Birds on his phone while eager fans around him were trying to watch the movie. To add insult to injury, any time he appeared on the screen, Ludwig added personal diatribe to the film, including ‘take that bitch!’ after one of the initial slaughter scenes of The Hunger Games where he is shown on screen killing another tribute from a competing district. I chose to include this in my article, as it baffles me that a young Canadian-born actor didn’t have the decency to show respect to the hundreds of fans that showed up to see a film they were all so eagerly anticipating. Sure, he’s seen it several times and it may be tough to engage through the film again; however, IMHO he should then refrain from attending altogether. Instead of a feeling of excitement of being so close to one of the actors in the film, I found myself thankful that he won’t be included in either of the two upcoming movies for the rest of the series.

OVERALL RATING: 5 out of 5 stars