HUNGER GAMES Movie Review

Deep breaths.

I just returned from the Hunger Games movie premiere with my head full of thoughts and my heart full of feelings, but as it is 4am, there is only time to explore so many, so here is the distilled version of my Hunger Games movie experience.
 
Overall, I’m satisfied with the choices director Gary Ross made. One of my biggest fears going into the movie is that they would try to either glamorize or minimize what I believe to be the story’s most important themes–violence, oppression, and greed.

They did not.

From the reaping in District 12 to the opulence of the Capitol to the carnage of the arena, the story felt honest. The fight scenes weren’t tricked out with special effects or slow motion or made to be longer than would seem natural. In fact, many of the deaths happened so fast, especially in the cornucopia scene, that one hardly had time to process what was going on, similar to how it might feel if you were actually in the arena. The Capitol citizens were despicable. The gamemakers were as well.

The movie inspired many emotions, including unease, anger and sympathy, not just for the most beloved characters, but for all the tributes forced to enter into the Hunger Games, which I think is Suzanne Collins’ intention.

The documentary style of filming, as well as the absence of a peppy soundtrack, added to the austerity of the film. There was a lot of silence throughout, or a simple backdrop of forest sounds that allowed for thoughtful moments and space for reflection. The settings were authentic. They really nailed the Seam, the District 12 square, the Capitol and its lavishly dressed audiences, the arena, even the modes of transportation. The extras were some of the best I’ve ever seen. Give them all a raise!

I felt each of the principal actors held their own. There could have been a little more chemistry between Katniss and Peeta, but their connection was tender and heartfelt in the cave, rather than completely staged for the Capitol audience, and I appreciated that.

Some of my favorite bits:

Prim–outstanding in every way.

Effie Trinket twirling her hand in that glass bowl right before she pulls Prim’s name.

District 12’s solemn salute to Katniss after she volunteers.

Peeta greeting the Capitol for the first time with genuine excitement.

Rue in the rafters of the training center.

Katniss throwing Peeta up against a wall after he confesses his love for her on stage.

Caeser Flickerman–yesss!

Rue and Katniss cuddled up together in the tree.

District 11’s riot after Rue’s death.

Gale’s attempts at not noticing Katniss and Peeta kissing in the cave.

Cato’s last monologue at the top of the cornucopia.

Seneca Crane and the bowl of berries.

Prim atop Gale’s shoulders when Katniss and Peeta return home, as well as the look on Peeta’s face at the realization that Katniss is conflicted in her feelings.

Overall, I feel J-Law did Katniss justice. In quiet moments she evoked a lot of emotion while leaving room for viewers to have their own thoughts and feelings on the matter, though I did wonder how that might work for people who haven’t read the book. Josh Hutcherson also did well as Peeta, though I’m hoping for Catching Fire there will be more opportunities for him to take the lead. Liam Hemsworth as Gale didn’t get enough screen time for my taste, but in his brief scenes, he did inspire the brooding mystique that surrounds Gale in the book.

My biggest complaint, Buttercup is a tabby cat with eyes the color of rotting squash and they put a black and white kitty in there. What the Buttercup?

But in the end, this fan is pleased.

Are you?

What the Buttercup?

Here is my article from Forever Young Adult, reposted here.

An actor I think could maybe, possibly pull off Buttercup. He's an unknown but is getting a lot of buzz on the blogsphere.

In the midst of Katniss’ full-body wax , Gale’s bedroom eyes, Cato’s massacre of a defenseless Contempo mannequin and Seneca Crane’s full frontal Brazilian, it’s possible to forget about the less flashy characters who made Hunger Games the masterpiece that it is. But, tributes, I am here to remind you, that before there was a PeeNis or a KatAle, before Effie’s restraining order against Haymitch, even before the Greasy Sae vs. District 13 Health Department scandal, there was a lone survivor, a humble foot soldier of the revolution, with a chewed-off ear and eyes the color of rotting squash. That’s right.

Buttercup Everdeen.

In Hunger Games, while Katniss was off fighting in the arena, Buttercup was doing what he does best—trapping mice and eating lizards. He did this without comment or complaint, without fanfare or glory, without sponsors or parachutes, without the help of a lovesick baker or a hive of venomous tracker jackers. For Buttercup, survival didn’t win you any special privileges; it didn’t guarantee you a mate in life, or fortune and fame; it didn’t earn you the attention of a blood-drinking psychopath. It allowed you to live another day. Period. Truckers truck and Buttercups prevail.

In Catching Fire, when Katniss and the Everdeen family high-tailed it out of the Seam, Buttercup stayed true to his roots. He didn’t sell out to the glitz and glamour of Victory Village with its climate control and chlorinated municipal water. He knew all along that there was no such thing as a free ride. He didn’t trust President Snow or his blood-money “gifts.” Buttercup smelled a rat because smelling rats is Buttercup’s J-O-B.

In Mockingjay, Gale was quick to take credit for the rescue of .oo1% of District 12’s population. But was it an accident that the entirety of Peeta’s family didn’t survive? Buttercup was there. He saw it all. It must have been another accident that found Buttercup so conveniently left outside during the bomb raid of District 13.

Coincidence?

But Buttercup prevailed. And went on to entertain an entire bunker of stir-crazy civilians, allowing for the single best scene of normalcy and innocent fun in the trilogy. Can anyone say, Academy Award?

And at the end of it all, when Gale shipped off to District 4, when Katniss’ mother decided never to return to District 12 again. When all of those whom Katniss held most dear were gone, who, like a cat, came back?

Buttercup.

If Katniss has nine lives, then Buttercup has ten.

If Gale can trap a rabbit in a snare, then Buttercup can trap two rabbits with his bare paws with a patch over one eye and a peg leg from a cat fight in District 2 over a feline who really wasn’t worth it and ended up giving him a strange rash, but damn she sure did look pretty after a few pints.

Peeta can bake croissants, but have you ever tried Buttercup’s catnip soufflé?

So, Lionsgate, you can imagine my disappointment when you never publicized who would be playing the role of Buttercup in the movie adaptation. My frustration was further exacerbated when his sweet, snarly mug was not featured prominently in the movie trailer. I can only hope that the rumors aren’t true.

You didn’t…kill Buttercup?

Because Buttercup won’t die. Remember the haunting on the set of Three Men and a Baby? That was because the family’s beloved dog, Rudolph, was not featured in the film. And Rudolph was a golden retriever who lived inside the house. Buttercup is a rat-eviscerating, bomb-dodging, assassination-plot-uncovering, bada$$ kitty.

You may try your Hollywood revisionist history on the HG movie, but in the hearts and minds of us fans, Buttercup will live forever. For-Ehh-Ver.

And all you tributes out there, who love that rascally rogue as I do, raise your glasses, because Buttercup Everdeen, this one’s for you.

Team Buttercup For-eva!!!

Hunger Games Trailer, More Please

I’ve just watched the Hunger Games trailer for the 12th time and I feel compelled to blog about it. But before I do, I need to give a little background about my book-to-movie philosophy.

I Love Them.

The only thing I love more than books, is movies, and if more movies were as good of stories as books (generally), then I wouldn’t have to read any more. I’m kidding (mostly) but seriously, if filmmakers take a book I love and make a movie out of it, I’m super psyched. A lot of people complain about the way a character looks or who’s playing who or how scenes were cut or abbreviated, but for me, I go into the movie knowing all of the backstory, so other than huge plot game changers, I am on board. Because it’s not a book anymore, it’s a movie and movies are a whole nother animal.

I will further say that I believe that movies can sometimes be BETTER than the books, because of pared down scenes/better dialogue/clearer character motivations and enhancements to plot (not to mention special effects and the visual/auditory thrill of a movie).

HUNGER GAMES is my favorite book and I’ve read it (with II and III) several times now. It was so important to me that my husband read it (he is a non-fiction type), that I read it OUT LOUD to him. That’s how much I love, love, love the HUNGER GAMES.

So, what do I think about the trailer?

I loved it.

I think it’s going to be the BEST MOVIE EVER. As I was watching it on repeat, I kept noticing the little details:

Effie Trinket’s hand in the glass bowl and the way she twirls her wrist with that extra flourish before drawing Prim’s name.

The look exchanged between Peeta and Katniss on the stage at the Reaping.

Peeta’s face as they are first arriving by train to the Capitol.

Rue peeking from behind the wall in the training station.

Katniss running to the cornucopia.

The haunting music and percussion.

And all of this is BEFORE the games even start. The trailer was 2:35 long and it felt like 10 seconds. What I am going to do until March 23? I’ll have to keep watching this stinking trailer!

NEW MOON: the review

Disclaimer: I am not the NEW YORK TIMES.

Jacob’s abs. 

In order to give a proper review of NEW MOON, let me first catch you up on my feelings about TWILIGHT, the movie. I didn’t care for it, not at all. I thought the script was flawed, in that there was very little continuity in the storyline and all the high points were crammed together, so that the tender, heartfelt lines in the story seemed really cheesy and out-of-place. I also thought the leads were overacting and the special effects were awful. The scene in the meadow where Edward is sparkly–I couldn’t get past the over-the-top diamond-bling of his skin. I mean, I know he sparkles,  but come on people!

Jacob’s smile.

So, when NEW MOON opened with another sparkly bit in the meadow, I was like, oh no, not again. But aside from the bad CGI of Edward’s skin, I thought many aspects of NEW MOON were far better than in TWILIGHT, including the acting. Rob and Kristin (Edward and Bella) seemed more comfortable in their skin. Taylor Lautner (Jacob) impressed me from the start (in more ways than one). Also, the director seemed to think more about “moments” and building up the tension naturally, rather than trying to cram everything from the novel into the movie. The cinematography was fantastic (as in the first movie) and some of the scenes, like when Sam jumps off the cliff and the wolf sequences, Victoria fleeing and Bella running through the red-robed tourists in the piazza–all those were breathtaking scenes visually. So big ups to the creative thinking behind those moments. Also, a bigger budget really helps.

Jacob’s lips.

Now, for the story. I thought the storytelling was great, and the soundtrack really helped. The break-up scene got me faklempt, for real and Bella’s breakup funk had just enough angst. The blooming friendship between Bella and Jacob was sweet and endearing and a faithful portrayal of the book. Jacob’s character was so well-formed, in fact, that I found myself in the same dilemma as when I was reading the book–Team Jacob or Team Edward–do I really have to choose?

Jacob’s back.

The Volturi were frightening and eccentric. However, I will say that whoever does the vamps’ makeup needs to go over them with a magnifying glass because on the big screen, you can really see where the powder’s rubbed off. Edward’s chest, on the other hand, was authentically pale. The Volturi fight scene was exciting and Dakota Fanning as Jane, despite her brief air time, made a fearsome impression.

Jacob’s arms.

But most of all, the movie was successful at leaving me torn between the hot-blooded, sweet and steady Jacob and the emo, tormented, endless love Edward. Just like the book! When the movie ended with Edward popping the question and the doe-eyed Bella surprised and speechless, there was a ripple of discontent in the theater and more than a few ladies said “this is bullsh*t” regarding the cliff-hanger ending. But for those of us who’ve read the books, we’ve gotten used to holding out breath for the next installment.

Jacob’s shoulders.

And one more thing, I’d like to give big props to all the dudes who sat through two hours of shirtless werewolves and dreamy, amber-eyed vampires.

Now you know how it feels to be objectified in the movies.

SQUEEEEEEE!