Posted by: Andrea | March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Blows Me Away

I’ve seriously neglected this blog since finishing Mockingjay forever ago. I wish I had a better excuse than I got busy graduating and doing internships and stuff, but the truth is I got busy with graduating and doing internships and stuff. The Hunger Games movie was released this weekend, though, and it would just be sinful and downright irresponsible not to tell my two followers what I thought of it. So here goes.

I’d advise against reading this until after seeing the film.

Let me start by saying that being a fan of three of the major book-to-movie adaptations of the past decade – PotterTwilight and The Hunger Games – I couldn’t be happier with this movie. I can’t complain. I finally feel satisfied with an adaptation. Someone at Lionsgate did something right!

My guess is that it all started with Suzanne Collins. It can’t have hurt to have the author of the book write the screenplay. By doing that, nothing was lost in translation. Everything that needed to be in it was, anything that could be removed was removed ,and we even got a few new scenes that we never saw in the book.

I’ll admit that I was wary of the casting. I was wary of the whole movie, actually. Having loved the books, I worried that the movie would be too much of a disappointment. In fact, I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t live up to expectation until I saw a clip of Peeta’s pre-arena interview with Caesar Flickerman. The trailers hadn’t done much for me, but that clip sold the whole movie to me. I knew that if they had gotten Peeta right, everything else would be ok.

I’m happy to say I was surprised by how spot on the casting was. The characters didn’t all look the way they looked in my head, but the actors captured the essence of those characters perfectly. As I’ve learned from previous book-to-movie adaptations, it’s impossible to meet everyone’s idea of what a fictional character would look like. But looks don’t matter if the personality is convincing.

The only character I felt was a smidgeon off was Donald Sutherland as President Snow. I almost don’t want to bring this up because it’s such a minor thing among so many great things, but I just didn’t think he was creepy enough. He was clearly the bad guy just not slimy and sly enough for me. Sutherland is a fabulous actor, though, and I’m sure creepy President Snow will make more of an appearance in the following movies. As for standouts, I loved too many of them. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), Elizabeth Banks (Effie) and Woody Harelson (Haymitch) were all incredible. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Amandla Stenberg as Rue. In the few scenes she was in the movie (because they cut the Rue scenes short), I couldn’t have loved a kid more. I wanted to protect her. And that’s all I ask from a movie – to make me feel something. Which I did. Stenberg pulled tears out of me.

So as not to bore you with my love for this movie, I’ll mention a few things I would have liked to see in the film.

  1. More Peeta quotes directly from the book. We all know I fell in love with Peeta when he said, “You here to finish me off, sweetheart?” when Katniss found him covered in frosting. I would not have minded hearing it from Josh Hutcherson. However, its absence may have been for the better. I did enough cringing at the brutal murders in the film. I did not need to be cringing over cheesy lines.
  2. Bread from District 11. That was one of the more touching scenes in the book, and there was so much power behind that bread. In the movie, though, we don’t get a lot of details about each district, so that little scene might have needed too much explaining to evokethe emotion it’s supposed to. The rebellion was a great touch, in my opinion. It sets up Catching Fire nicely and shows exactly how District 11 feels.
  3. Madge and the Avox girl. Honestly, I didn’t miss them. I barely thought about them, but being a fan of the books, it would’ve been nice to see them come to life. Having Prim be the one to give Katniss the mockingjay pin was a great touch, though.
  4. Better CGI. The fire on Katniss’ “girl on fire” dress looked fake. When I can tell it’s CGI, it’s not good CGI. As I said, this is an incredibly minor point.

One major complaint I’ve been hearing is the camera effect. It’s shaky, sometimes confusing and nauseating…and completely justified. That confusion was probably what kept the film from getting an R rating from MPAA. It’s what made us know bad things were happening but not see skulls cracking. That camera effect made it seem as if we, the audience, were part of the Games. I doubt Katniss could see everything clearly while fighting or running away from balls of fire. It makes sense that neither could we.

Katniss’ perspective brings me to the flashbacks and omniscient perspective scenes in the film. At the start of the movie, I was worried that not enough was being explained. In the book, we learn so much about District 12 and Katniss’ family from the get-go. Luckily, Director Gary Ross, author Suzanne Collins and their people knew that movies don’t necessarily have to start like that. They gave us enough to get past the reaping and then threw in flashbacks to fill us in. They showed us what was happening behind the scenes with the Gamemakers and President Snow. They even showed us Gale’s reaction to the the Katniss-Peeta kiss. Instead of having Haymitch or someone else tell us in boring dialogue, they showed us. That’s great use of a medium.

I’m sure I could come up with reasons to dislike the film, but I don’t want to. Not because I don’t want to ruin the story, but because there’s no point. I’ve had huge expectations for this kind of movie since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Don’t get me wrong, at age 11, I loved it. I still love it. But there are many things wrong with it. I haven’t lowered my expectations, I’ve just learned to accept the difference between a book and a movie. And I can appreciate when a movie can stay true to the book it was based on, while also holding its own as a really good film. That’s exactly what The Hunger Games does.

What did you think of the film?

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Responses

  1. Im not a fan of the cast, but i thought the film was really well adapted.


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