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?

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!