Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Monday: The Hunger Games


On Saturday afternoon, I FIIIIIIIIIINALLY got to see The Hunger Games [insert Kermit flail of excitement]. I was insanely excited about it, and was thrilled that Must Be Thrifty and her boyfriend, Cheap Geek, came along for the ride despite the fact that neither of them had read the book, and had very little idea what to expect.

Anyway, the fact that I finally got to see The Hunger Games means that Movie Monday is going to be a little bit different this week. Because I have a LOT of thoughts and I need to put them somewhere!

In case you haven't seen it yet, I'm going to put the rest after a jump break, because it's going to get spoiler-y up in here. But if you've already seen it, read on, and let me know what YOU thought about it! :) (If you haven't seen it, go and do so, then come back and tell me what you thought. I WANT TO KNOW!!)

Source

Before I say anything else, I have to say this: For the most part, I loved it. Sure, it wasn't perfect. But what adaptation is?? There were some omissions that left me wanting more. But by and large, they stuck to the source material. And now, COMMENCE SPOILERS!

1. My initial thought was that District 12 looked like pictures of the 1930s. I was hugely puzzled by this, and had absolutely no idea why they would have done that, considering the whole futuristic element. But the more I thought about it afterwards, the more I thought it was a stroke of genius. The starkness of life and the dated clothing were the perfect contrast to the luxurious and colourful ridiculousness of life in the Capitol.

2. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss. She brought life and emotion to a character that can seem cold and unfeeling on the page. Her anger and frustration when the Gamemakers weren't watching her performance, her obvious fear when entering the arena, her love for her sister, and her reaction to Rue's death were all fantastic.

3. Josh Hutcherson is pretty much the most adorable thing of EVER. (Except that he's nineteen, and that makes me a creepy letch...) I thought he brought to the screen that likeable, wide-eyed quality that Peeta gives off in the book.

4. I thought Elizabeth Banks was brilliant as Effie. There aren't many people who could take on a role like that and actually make her likeable. "That. Is. MAHOGANY!!" I lol'ed.

5. Okay, let's talk about Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Yes, they changed Haymitch from being a drunken fool into a supportive, entertaining character. But you know what? It worked. I thought he was perfect. And seeing him campaign for Katniss with sponsors, and seeing his notes to her in the parachute packages made him that much stronger a character.

6. Rue's death. Completely heartbreaking. I'm not ashamed to admit, I cried.

7. I really enjoyed the way that the film allowed them the opportunity to show other points of view. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes, to see how the Gamemakers worked. And it gave them a great opportunity to explain some stuff, like the whole inferno thing. Not to mention, knowing about President Snow from the start would be pretty helpful if you hadn't read the books!

8. I thought Lenny Kravitz was good as Cinna, but that they kind of ruined the character. Obviously, they didn't have the time to include everything. But to turn him from a pivotal character into a helpful friend? It made me a little sad.

9. For some reason, I thought the tracker jackers would be bigger. I have no idea why... I suspect that's just what I pictured in my head when I read the book, and that I shouldn't whinge about this point.

10. Gale was...not so great. I'm not sure if it was because he only had half a dozen lines, or if it was because of Liam Hemsworth's acting. But Gale just felt a little wooden to me. And I couldn't help but laugh whenever they showed his reaction to Katniss and Peeta kissing.

11. I actually loved that they played down the "star-crossed lovers" angle. It made Katniss seem like much less of a heartless bitch, leading the poor guy along. Instead, she just came across as caring about Peeta, but uncertain about how much.

12. The violence. Obviously, to maintain a PG-13 rating in the US (M in Australia), they had to limit the amount of actual killing that they showed on screen. You know what? This was a good thing. It's really hard to feel sympathy for a character when ten minutes earlier, they bashed someone's head in with a brick/slit someone's throat/whatever. But it was still graphic enough that the bunch of old people who were there (there was a sold out screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on at the same time, so I suspect they figured they were already at the theatre and may as well see SOMETHING) to be cringing and gasping with horror.

13. This one's kind of random, but I feel like there were moments when a voiceover narrative would have been ideal. This would have given them the opportunity to explain things like the three finger salute and "the boy with the bread" story more thoroughly than they did.

14. As with so many others, I wasn't a huge fan of the cinematography. The camera shake during action sequences left a lot to be desired. Although I suspect it was meant to make the audience feel like they were actually there. But mostly it made me feel a little seasick.

15. Considering how much of the book takes place through descriptive narrative and not dialogue, I thought they did a great job of still telling the story.

So, what did you guys think? Did you love it? Hate it? Need to see it half a dozen more times to decide? Want to reread the book for comparative purposes? Share!!

K xx

28 comments:

  1. I blogged about it. No big surprise. But I pretty much just give you a big giant +1 to all of this. Camera work was so shaky I almost yakked in the first ten minutes.

    I loved Effie ("MANNERS!") and Haymitch, both. They were more subtle than in the books, but I think it worked well. The best, though, was the background stuff with Seneca Crane and District 11 and stuff. Brilliant.

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    1. I think it helped that I last read the book late last year. Unlike Harry Potter, which I always tried to finish about five minutes before going into the movie. I think it made me less nitpicky than I would have been otherwise!

      The District 11 stuff was heartbreaking. Although I kind of wish they'd included Katniss getting the bread...

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  2. I have neither read the book, nor seen the film. Yet!

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  3. So excited the film is out and people are discussing The Hunger Games so vigourously!

    I wasn't a fan of some of the changes to the Haymitch character. He was somewhat likeable in the movie and I don't think he should have been.

    I am also a little annoyed at how much the "futuristic" thing is being played up in the reviews around the film. For mine, they nailed District 12. The book isn't a futuristic novel, the blurb on the back actually says "In the near future" and I think the press has taken this idea of it being a futuristic book/film and gone too far with it. I think Suzanne Collins intended it to be "In the near future" for a reason - she wrote the book after considering the nature of reality TV and the Iraq War. The book is intended to make readers think about the blurring of boundaries between "entertainment" and things more sinister. I think the comments about the film being "futuristic" are off the mark because if the film was a future film it would make these issues too seperated from the current experience of its viewers and the message Collins is sending would be lost.

    I was disappointed not to see more of Gale, and that the complexity of Katniss & Peeta's relationship was reduced. I am not sure how one would demonstrate this complexity on film but I think the movie was a little poorer for it. I don't think Suzanne Collins ever pitches them as "Star Crossed Lovers" so I am glad that the film-makers avoided going down that road though.

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    1. I can't remember where I read it, but somewhere, I read an article in which Suzanne Collins said that she saw it being at least a hundred years in the future that the Districts rebelled. And it's the 74th Hunger Games that they're competing in. So it's not futuristic to the point of other planets and stuff. But 175-ish years is still pretty futuristic, I guess??

      ANYWAY. I do agree that emphasising the futuristic element in reviews isn't ideal. But I think if people actually SEE it, the fact that it's all set in such a familiar looking environment, and that the flora and fauna IS the same as what's around today (we never see the mockingjays, and the tracker jackers just look like wasps) will help.

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  4. I also saw the Hunger Games on Saturday! I totally loved it - I havent read the book(s) and probably wont however I thought it was great.

    At times I was actually feeling horrified about the whole selection process and reasons why the games existed. Gladiators came to mind, and media hungry sponsors of any reality TV show - MKR? - outright cross promotion. Lord of the rings also filtered in....

    I agreed with your summation of the district 12 shades of grey - rather pertinent to the depression years. Grey, grey and more grey - except when they visited the forset - so lush.

    I will admit I cried when Rue died too. and I actually cried another time.

    I think the film will please people on more than one level - the Tweenies cause the twilight movies are fading, the young adults cause maybe they read the books, the oldies cause yes they had nothing else to see & its reinforcement that the future is stuffed, and me and my generation BFF - cause it twas a little deep and a reminder of today - not soo much as the "killing" off one by one but because reality shows seem to still rule and the huge engines of advertising and sponsorship run the consumerism world of the capital (capitol) (money makes this world go round).
    Tania

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    1. Suzanne Collins says somewhere that she came up with the idea after channel surfing between Survivor and coverage of the Iraq War. It seems to put everything into perspective when you hear that! And I think you're right about it speaking to a wide range of audiences. The book is definitely worth reading - there's a lot more detail about WHY they have The Hunger Games than was included in the movie.

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  5. Agree so much with your take! Particularly with hoe the filmmakers added in scenes to explain some of the issues, like the wall of fire and the boobytrapped stockpile. I liked the movie, but it felt like the filmmakers were just hopping from mandatory plotpoint to mandatory plotpoint ... like the film was missing a little soul. But I give it a solid B+ and will probably see it again this week. :)

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    1. It did feel like that a bit. But I think that was mainly for two reasons:
      1. Time constraints.
      2. Trying to maintain a PG-13 rating.
      There was a lot more stuff they could have gone into more thoroughly without these issues. I really think a voiceover narrative would have helped with this. It wouldn't add anything in terms of length, and it would make sense to have it, seeing as Katniss narrates the book!

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  6. Have to disagree with people here, this film is at best a C-. The characterisation in both the book and film are paper thin. The plot is both predictable and derivative. it was lacking any originality.

    As for the film, jennifer lawrence does a reasonable job with a poor script. The whole rue sequence was so rushed it's hard to care when she dies. Gale was so sidelined the shots of him during the kisses seemed pointless. In fact the beard of wes bentley was the most memorable thing in the film for me. That said the sequences of the gamemakers added a lot of context to a film badly lacking exposition.

    All in all an average adaptation of a mediocre book.

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    1. Aah, the ever delightful anonymous disagreeing comment. I do agree with you, Mysterious Anonymous Commenter, that the shots of Gale during the kisses were a little pointless. But I think they mostly served to make sure viewers didn't forget about the character. It's hard to include him without Katniss's narrative reminding you about him when she's in the Arena!

      I don't think it's entirely fair to say that the story lacks originality. Sure, people compare it to Battle Royale and Lord of the Flies. But if you can name me a single book published today where people don't go "It reminds me of this other book in which there are also wizards/vampires/teenagers hacking each other to death", I shall be very impressed.

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    2. I forgot to add that at least it has more substance than the twilight books/movies and gives teenage girls a more worthy role model. Sure she's a bit self centred occasionally and clearly has issues but at least she isn't pathetic and useless like bella swan.

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  7. YES YES YES YES YES.

    I LOVED Effie.

    Jennifer was brilliant!

    And he's 19 (going to be 20) soon. So it's not like he's 15 or something...

    Rue - you broke my heart.

    I really enjoyed the other points of view too. It helped to explain what was happening more, and I enjoyed being able to get to know the head gamemaker more. I think he has a really interesting character and seeing the choices he has to make and his interactions with President Snow.

    I loved how Lenny Kravitz played Cinna. They could have done more, but he'll probably play a bigger role in the next one. (Although as she was leaving for the games ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT was what was going to happen in Catching Fire. OMG.)

    And yes with the star-crossed lovers thing. I think they handled that very well..

    I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!

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    1. Sadly, Josh Hutcherson is still below the "Half your age plus seven" rule, which means it's creepy for me to think he's cute. SIGH.

      I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN TOO!! And I can't believe we have to wait until NOVEMBER 2013 for Catching Fire. UGH, SO FAR AWAY :(

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  8. I loved it. I disagree with you about District 12 looking like the 1930s. I know that District 12 is supposed to be the Appalachian region in America. I happen to live in this area and if you get deep into the mountains, this is how people actually still live.

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    1. Yeah, the more I think about District 12 looking like the 1930s, the more it makes perfect sense. Especially when you add in the Appalachian element. For some reason, I had less problem with the HOUSING looking like it was from the 1930s, and more with the costumes. But like I said, it was the perfect counterpoint to the luxury and colour of the Capitol! :)

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  9. loved all your little reviews! jennifer lawrence definitely was the best fit for this role. she ROCKED it!
    and peeta? swoon! seriously, why do all these dreamy guys need to be so young. rockin' the cradle, ha.
    i wished they would have explained the avox people, because that's a pretty re-occurring thing through the books. but overall, so PUMPED for the next film now. loved!!!

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    1. YES! I wanted them to explain the Avox too, especially as when I was looking at the IMDb page, one of the characters is listed as "Avox girl". I guess we'll just have to hope they explain it more in Catching Fire, seeing as the Avox play a bigger role (if I remember the book correctly, that is!).

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  10. I loved it! My only real complaint is that the cannon only went off some of the time when people died.

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    1. Yeah, that was super weird!! Surely if they were going to bother doing it, they should do it all the time...

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  11. There's so much to SAY! But. I'll try and keep it simple.

    I loved what Woody did with Haymitch, I don't love hoiw Haymitch was written. It wasn't bad per se, but there was so much more meat to him in the book. I know, I know; time and sequels, but still. I couldn't help but be a little disappointed.

    I loved Peeta and Flickman. Their scene made me fall in love with Hutcherson AND I DON'T CARE IF THAT IS CREEPY. Ahem.

    I liked all the behind the scenes and backstory stuff too. None of it felt intrusive. It was needed to propel the story. They really get high marks for their translation from book to screen. Is it time for the second movie yet? ;)

    Lor

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    1. YES. Peeta and Flickman was awesome. Also, it's much less creepy for you to have fallen in love with Hutcherson than it is for me. Because, you know, I'M OLD AND ALL.

      And why is the second movie so far away???? :(

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  12. Hmm. Somehow this entire series of books passed me by - how does that even happen? Though I guess I'd also never heard of Twilight before the movies came out. (I'm more or less a hermit, apparently!)

    Given that it would cost about $50 for two to watch the movie and buy munchies, do you think it would be worth it without having read the story?

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    1. Well, Must Be Thrifty and Cheap Geek hadn't read the book, and they both enjoyed it! The Hunger Games is infinitely better than Twilight if that's any assistance in deciding??

      Do they do Tightarse Tuesday in New Zealand? Maybe you and Chris could go then if they do!

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  13. Haha, I just blogged about my thoughts on this movie too. Look I think it was a great movie but I think it's been over-hyped a little bit too much. I don't think there's anything wrong with it and I like the story, but it seems like the media went nuts-o-skitz-o for something that really wasn't ground-breaking.

    I do want to read the books when I get a minute to read what I want.

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    1. I think it's kind of inevitable for ANY popular teenage series to end up over-hyped. Especially after Harry Potter, and then Twilight.

      The books are definitely worth reading. I read the second and third ones in a day each!

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  14. I loved the actor who was playing Katniss, especially during her first interview with Caesar where she kept looking bewildered at the audience's reactions to what she was saying. She did it so well.

    The rebellion scenes seemed a little tacked on to me, though. It felt very much as though they were setting it up for later development, so it didn't feel natural at all. I think keeping in the scene with the bread would have been a much better idea.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I almost wish we'd been left to assume what was going on outside the arena, just as we are in the book. It didn't feel as though those extra scenes added that much, with the notable exception of the game makers. That did give something new to the story.

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