By this point I hope that everyone has had a chance to go and see The Hunger Games. A little while ago I did a small sort of review of the book and since my co-blogger, Alex, and I went to the midnight showing last week I thought I would expand a little with the movie review.
First of all, I really did love this movie. I thought that it stayed fairly true to the book and most of it actually looked how I imagined it to when I read it. That being said, I do have some criticisms and I understand that this was a two and half hour long movie so they couldn’t fit in everything.
The first pro in my opinion is how the producers decided to explain the games by giving a few brief sentences before the opening scene. I was curious as to how that would be explained since having it in some form of dialog wouldn’t really feel natural, but going the Star Wars route with the text before the film starts was a good call that I didn’t think about.
For my first con I felt that it all moved so incredibly quickly. So quickly in fact that I felt that I wasn’t really able to settle and adjust to where things were to follow along smoothly. Luckily they slowed down when Katniss met up with Gale in the woods just before the reaping, or either I just got used to the pacing by that point. However, when I expressed this concern after the film, a friend of ours, who hasn’t read the book, said that she thought she could follow along really well and wasn’t bothered by anything or felt she was lost and didn’t not understand what was going on. So, that made me happy and really for a pro point, I say good for the filmmakers and producers for pulling that one off!
Another pro was the casting. I loved that the actors all seemed to really fit their character counterparts from the book. Obviously we all love Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. She’s a very strong actress with some very credible indy films behind her and I honestly can’t imagine anyone else playing Katniss, unless it were to have been an unknown actress. I’m also really glad that there is finally a strong female lead out there for myself and other younger girls to look up to, even if it is fictional, Katniss is certainly more of a responsible role model than some other female leads out there who come off whiny (perhaps one Bella Swan?). Liam Hemsworth as Gale was a great pic in my opinion and not just because of his looks. While in the theater I felt really bad when most of the audience kind of laughed at him. The movie tends to really only focus on a silent Gale after he’s seen footage of Katniss and Peeta together, or just after we as the audience have seen something happen between Katniss and Peeta. I would probably not have thought anything about it but from hearing the laughter throughout the theater, the cuts from Peeta and Katniss to Gale really did show Gale in a rather pathetic light. As more heartsick and jealous than concerned for a friend. I thought Liam did very well with the silent acting, he pulled off the look of “I’m hurting deeply inside but still trying to stay strong for those around me” in addition to his encouraging words to Katniss after the reaping. I like his tone and delivery. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta might actually be my least favorite pick. He did well, but it basically just comes down to my vision of Peeta not matching up to what Josh looks like (yeah, I’m going to be as shallow as that). When I first found out that Woody Harrelson was going to be playing Haymitch I was so excited; I love Woody Harrelson! And I wasn’t disappointed with his performance. I still think he was the perfect pick for Haymitch, but I do feel that he could have gone a little more in either direction: either completely smashed and out of it or a little evil if he stayed as subdued as he did. My biggest complaint in this film is the lack of background or depth into the relationships between Katniss/Peeta and Haymitch and Katniss and Cinna. They did somewhat show Haymitch and Katniss beginning to understand each other with the gifts while in the games and they did show how much Cinna cares for Katniss but I feel like something was missing with each of those relationships, such as more coaching from Cinna on how to help Katniss open up to Caesar Flickerman. Speaking of whom, Stanley Tucci stole the damn show! Oh my gosh, he was fabulous. I don’t know who I ever pictured as Caesar but Stanley Tucci went above and beyond and I loved him. And lastly, I just don’t really care for Prim in the first two books anyway, so hopefully the actress improves and does something to change my mind about that in the next movie.
Back to the movie itself, I really enjoyed how the games were interspersed with footage from various districts and the capitol. In the book since it’s all in Katniss’s head, we don’t actually know or see what’s going on outside of the games except for what Katniss imagines. It was a nice break from the intensity of the arena. So that’s a pro!
The group of careers were actually really disgusting to see on screen. It’s one thing to imagine them and their antics but to see it brought to life on screen was rather disturbing. Which is probably a sign of good acting/directing so yay them for making me uncomfortable. I can say the same thing about the death scenes. Disturbing and gross and yet I did like it. It could have gone a much bloodier/gorier route but it stayed pretty tame and just the sight of young teenagers lying dead on the ground all twisted with eyes open was enough to make anyone uncomfortable. Pros again!
The final scenes in the arena were not what I expected. First off, from the beginning I didn’t really like the way the cornucopia was portrayed: it didn’t look like a cornucopia. I really did imagine a golden trumpet-like structure but in seeing the last fight scene played out I guess it made sense to change it so that people could actually stand on it and climb up and down from it easily. Also, in the last fight scene I was really disappointed with the mutts. They just looked like oversized, muscular wild dogs. I wanted to see the (what I imagined) lanky furry human-eyed creepy creatures that were in the book. It wouldn’t have been hard. I honestly imagined the werewolves/Lupin from Harry Potter as the style in which the mutts could have been created.
Overall, I really did thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I thought it was a great adaptation of the book and was visually stunning, just so pretty to look at. All emotions were present through out: tears, laughter, suspense, concern, excitement. If a movie can elicit all of that and more from me it’s a damn good movie. I was left almost breathless and dying to see the next book in movie form (Catching Fire may be my favorite of the three).
So that’s my little rant (really procrastination from school work) and though it’s not a traditional movie review, it’s my thoughts on it, so I hope it was either helpful or entertaining.