Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: A film review

It's 2:30 in the morning, and I'm blogging. Why you ask? Shouldn't a pregnant mother of a vivacious toddler be asleep by this ungodly hour? Yeah, I should. But, if you know me, you can imagine what I might have been doing that would keep me up this late. If you guessed The Hunger Games midnight show, you are correct. If you're my mother, who went with me, your guess doesn't count. :)

Now, on to my thoughts before I lose all coherent ability to think.

The movie was excellent. The story was on track with the books, the dialog was similar, and the things that were left out were done so appropriately. The things that were changed were done well and I didn't leave thinking, "I read that book?" (ahem, Twilight and Percy Jackson)

There's just something really good about watching a favorite story come to life on screen-well, not just done, but done well.

What did I love? I loved Woody Harrelson, much to my own surprise. I didn't think he fit, but he managed to fit the part of Haymitch and be a good actor while doing it. I loved Josh Hutcherson, he is a great Peeta and I believed him. Jennifer Lawrence was great, as expected. The gore was toned down, which I'm fine with. The capitol is spot on, costumes, make-up, garishness-all true to text. 

Here's a part from the movie that I loved, that I apparently didn't consider while reading. District 11 (Rue and Thrush's district) was primarily African American, which makes sense considering it cuts a large swath through states that currently have a higher African American population. Suzanne Collins stated when the characters for Rue and Thresh were chosen that she described them as African American, and apparently I missed that description. There was lots of diversity in other characters as well, but District 11 is highlighted, and the citizens of the district are shown as African American and I thought that was a really important aspect of the film. It's not often that I enjoy something from the film more than the book, but this pleasantly surprised me.

There were a few things I didn't love. I have to agree with a few early reviews that stated they played up the love triangle. There were a few shots of Gale looking a little disturbed at the closeness between Katniss and Peeta. While I'm sure he did feel that way, we didn't know that in book 1. I also went with two people who hadn't read the book (shame on them, right?) and they were a bit lost. They weren't sure if it was current/past/present time. They didn't understand why some districts had more than others, and why District 12 had electricity sometimes, but not always. I don't really think this was obvious without knowing the back story. It gave a quick run down at the beginning, but it was quick. My mom's bff went with us and she didn't realize it was telling a story, and by the time she did we'd already missed 2 screens of text. I explained to her as best I could, but I thought that was a missed opportunity. I also thought that we didn't really get enough of life in District 12. We see that it's dark and dingy, that life generally sucks; but we didn't see any story that really developed the characters enough. I know they crammed as much in as they could, it was a long movie (which I love anyway) but I just wanted, for the sake of non-readers, the chance to know what's happening without guessing all through the movie and then asking later. 

I also didn't like that the movie didn't quite include enough of the negative feedback or social ramifications of what the Capitol was doing. It didn't make you feel guilty for watching, in fact, it almost made me want to see what it was like from a district viewer-which makes me want to throw up. I want to feel sick and guilty because people in real life want to see other people hurting, because humans enjoying watching blood sports (we have for over a thousand years and counting) but they just didn't convey how wrong it was. Or, not enough for me anyway. 

Then, there was one thing I hated. Hated. Loathed. Many of the action scenes were filled with this jerky, nearly home camera style filming that was next to impossible to follow, and made me want to close my eyes to avoid being sick. It moved to quickly, panned to fast, bobbed all over, and didn't give you clear image of what was happening. It gave you a clear image of panic and hurry, which I understand the need for; but it was just too much for me. 

Overall, I was impressed. It was true to the original story in the most important ways. It improved on a few ways that I felt the book didn't really just come out and say (and lets face it, I'm pretty concrete; I need things spelled out sometimes), and it didn't really disappoint in any major ways. I paid $11 total (to get in and snacks) and I will most likely go again before the run is over. 

So, my recommendation is for you to go watch it. Enjoy. 

And may the odds be ever in your favor. :)

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