Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review : The Hunger Games (spoilers!)

I've been talking about this movie for months, and this past weekend it finally hit the theaters.  It's always a feeling of mixed emotions when a story you love is adapted from the pages and brought to the big screen.  You are excited to see the world you care so much about visualized, but- afraid that it won't do the story justice.  (Have you seen the movie adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood?  Oh you haven't?  That's because it's fucking terrible!)

The Hunger Games delivered.  I was very pleased, and saw the movie twice.  I had been following IMDB pretty religiously, as well as (over)analyzing every trailer in order to be fully prepared for any changes in the movie.  (After 8 Harry Potter movies, I'm used to things being changed!)  I also didn't want to be sitting there annoyed the entire time with thoughts of how things were happening differently, etc.

And, trust me when I say that The Hunger Games movie is FULL of different material. The original screenplay was drafted by Suzanne Collins (the author), it was later re-written by screenwriter Billy Ray and Gary Ross (the director) and, the final draft, used in the film, came from Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross.  (Quite the process!)  But, I love how hands on Suzanne Collins was during this project- drafting the script, advising on casting, etc.  It gave me a sense of confidence for the movie.  I mean, it's HER WORLD.  She created it, and I trust her to know what's best for her characters!

The novel is written in a first person narrative.  Katniss unveils the world of Panem, the districts, the capitol and, the games to the audience.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to take a first person narrative and make it an all encompassing story.  But, they pulled it off!  There are additional scenes with President Snow, head game-maker Seneca Crane, the actual control room for the games, and some interesting insight into District 11 after the death of Rue, just to name a few.
Jennifer Lawrence is unbelievable.  Her portrayal of Katniss is authentic, natural, strong, she carries the movie (as she should!)  I have to emphasize how much she embodied this character- she was PHENOMENAL.  I cannot wait to see her performances in Catching Fire and Mockingjay!

In general- the casting was pretty amazing.  Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Woody Harleson as Haymitch Abernathy, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, I could go on and on and on.  And yes, Josh Hutcherson delivers a very endearing and likable Peeta!  Liam Hemsworth also delivers a strong Gale... and I think he will really be able to pull off the next movies and the direction Gales character goes in.

Visually, the film is stunning.  The seam, the reaping in town, the capitol, the games- the sets are dead on.  Completely do the story justice.

The Reaping

The Seam!
The scenes that were not originally in the novel, but were in the movie added great perspective.   You see the gamemakers as the game unfolds which I thought was really, really cool.  You see it as the television show as opposed to just being with Katniss the entire time.
The film is over 2 hours long.  Despite this fact, the film still feels so rushed.  It makes you realize how much information is in the novel.  (And, why HBO mini-series *cough* Game of Thrones *cough* really deliver a much more enjoyable adaptation for die-hards.)

There is a certain depth missing in this film.  In the 140 minute run-time, the emotional attachment to the characters, the relationship building between Katniss and Peeta- it's not portrayed accurately.  It's very surface and does not do it justice.  The impact of their experience together in the games is not felt by the audience.  How can you realize what these two experienced trying to survive, if their dynamic isn't given proper explanation?

They were told to appear united- she was not supposed to push his hand away!
So, they kissed?  Does she like him?  How do the audience know?
I'm not going to go into the Madge-Mockingjay Pin-thing because I already talked about it before the movie came out, and I already went through the motions of being disappointed and sad about it.  (Ha!)  I do understand that adding that in would've been an additional 25 minutes into the film...  But, gah!  The history!  And how this storyline brings together Haymitch, Katniss's mother, rebelion in the next stories!
But, that brings me back to my main point- this film was JAM PACKED and there was no way to fit everything in.

President Snow you scary SOB
If I had to pick out the singular thing that made me go "NOOO!!!"  It has to be the fact, that at the end, when Katniss and Peeta are fighting with the mutts and Cato at the cornucopia- Peeta's leg is mauled.  Which results in him having a peg leg and using a cane in the later series.  Why was that so hard to incorporate?  Dammit!

Now that I'm over that- I give Hunger Games a 9/10- I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it repeatedly, whenever I'd like a Hunger Games experience in less time than it takes to read the novel.  I am insanely excited for the next installment and I can't wait to see who they cast for the next movie!  (Plutarch, Mags, Finnick, Brutus, Annie, etc etc!)

So- read the books.  Check out the film.  You'll be happy about it!


  1. kayla lindstrom3/28/2012

    Ahhhh Azia. I love this post. I would like to say that I never was a big reader before, simply because I had a hard time getting into things. After a ton of my friends told me about this series and an army buddy of mine shoved her book in my face (to borrow) I decided I would give it a try. And...I could not put it down! I love this series SO much, I feel just like you! I also loved the movie and would definitely see it again! I cannot wait to see what the other two movies have to bring!!! :) Just excited.

    1. I cannot believe we have to wait until November 2013 for the next film! I'm so impatient! HA!

  2. Great review! I don't remember the book's details well enough to make all of the comparisons you did - I simply know they kept the right *feel* and that made me VERY happy. :)

    My daughter complained about the mockingjay pin too though... she felt that the Madge aspect was important to the rebellion in the upcoming book, and should not have been left out. It makes me wonder how they will incorporate the pin in the other books.

    1. I have to agree with you- the FEELING of the movie was SPOT ON! Ahh. I think I may have to go back for viewing number 3 asap! HAHA

      And, I also agree with your daughter- it is an important aspect to the rebellion... I don't want this to become something that isn't fully developed (like the relationship of Katniss and Peeta in this first film) But, I know they will do the right thing! (I hope!)

  3. Anonymous3/28/2012

    I'm not reading this post because I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, and somehow I've managed to avoid knowing anything about this story other than the MC volunteers to take her little sister's place. That is the extent of my knowledge on The Hunger Games. I suppose I should start reading it soon, eh?

    1. Josh. READ THE DANG BOOKS. Honestly, you could read the entire series in one weekend (given you had enough quiet time to kill a book a night)

  4. I saw it last weekend too, and totally agree with you: It was a fabulous adaptation but I miss what wasn't in it. Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic. I like Peeta and Gale too. I like those little wrinkles on Peeta's forehead. The reaping was perfect. The casting was perfect. Rue was perfect. I pictured Haymitch differently in my head when I read the book. Have you read Game of Thrones? It was recently recommended to me. Did you like it?

  5. So, I have been avoiding reading this post for a while because I hadn't seen the movie.. But last night I did! And i'm pretty bummed about the way they portrayed Katniss and Peeta's relationship! Like you said, it was great in almost every aspect.. they did a terrific job, and obviously they coudln't fit all details in.. But I totally fell in love with Peeta in the book, and the movie didn't do that nearly as much. Gale on the otherhand.. Helllo Liam!


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