27 March, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Review


The Hunger Games movie has made a bazillion dollars opening weekend, and everyone I know has seen it already. I won't write up a synopsis of the film, because if you don't know what it's about by now, here is the wikipedia entry I was really looking forward to this movie coming out, though not as much as say, a Harry Potter or the upcoming The Hobbit, mostly because The Hunger Games isn't as well written as either of those books. I had read a few reviews before heading to the theater, so I had some idea of what people thought the pluses and minuses of the film were, but I think for the most part I was open to the film and had no definable expectations. That being said...

...the movie was fantastic. I really loved it. It almost surprised me how much I loved it. The tone and the look of the film were spot on, and Jennifer Lawrence was just amazing as the main character, Katniss Everdeen. Even though I knew the story, and knew what would happen, I was still on the edge of my seat through most of the film.

The movie is a faithful adaptation of the novel, and I think might be a better adaptation than a YA fiction book would or should normally get. And the book is definitely YA, the writing and the story just feel like it was written for teen girls, but the film feels like it is meant for everyone (over the age 13 of course). I think the story, and Katniss herself, are relatable for a very broad audience. Her strength, courage, honesty, vulnerability, make her accessible to everyone watching her, both us, the real world audience, and the audience of Capitol citizens, who are glued to their screens, cheering and crying for Katniss throughout the Games.

And that is the main reason I think the film is better at this than the book: Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. I like her Katniss so much better than the book's incarnation. Interestingly, Jennifer Lawrence looks almost nothing like the Katniss that author Suzanne Collins describes as slight, with straight black hair and olive skin. But her presence on screen and her honesty captured me completely. Would I rather have someone else, who looks like Katniss or would I rather have Jennifer Lawrence? I'd rather have Jennifer Lawrence, hands down. She had to do everything in this film, she carried the whole thing on her very capable shoulders. I must say I was surprised by this a little bit, I know she is an Oscar nominated actress, but I haven't seen Winter's Bone. I did see her in X-Men: First Class but she didn't really stand out to me, but I'm definitely a fan now.

The casting overall in the film was really well done. I was particularly impressed at how much I liked Elizabeth Banks' character Effie, considering how strange she looks, which can be very hard to act around.

Since I enjoyed the movie so much it's hard to find anything major to take issue with, but I do have a few things I'd like to nitpick about. None of them are “Why did they cut this?” like in my Battle Royale movie review, thankfully.

I'd like to have seen more reactions from and scenes with Capitol citizens as they were watching the games. We got a few moments of Haymitch schmoozing, a few moments of District citizens watching, and scenes of the game controllers, but not enough of the Captiol citizens generally. I think more of that would have helped sell the emotional trickery of the love story between Peeta and Katniss. I know some people were confused by their relationship, and didn't buy the love story, but that was the point. I think a few more moments showing how the Capitol was being manipulated by this “star-crossed” lovers yarn would have worked to the film's benefit. Especially since it is a nice way to show the tributes, who are completely and overtly manipulated by the government on a daily basis AND during the games, playing the game right back. In my head, right before Katniss kisses Peeta full on the mouth, there is a quick cutaway to a camera in the cave quietly zooming in in anticipation, ready for the “romantic” kiss that the Capitol and sponsors are eagerly anticipating.

I also think the film should have had a bit more blood and gore. There was barely any. I understand why the filmmakers kept it so tame, they want the lucrative teen audience to come out and see the film, but I did think it was heavy handed in the editing out of blood splatters. The average 12 year old has seen plenty of TV/video game/movie violence already, whether their parents know it or not.

But anyway, see this movie on the big screen. See it and enjoy it and then give in to the immediate urge to learn archery and basic forest survival. I haven't wanted to live in a tree so badly since I was a kid and read My Side of the Mountain.

And by the way, I know most of you will be rushing here to comment on whether you are Team Pitabread or Team Thorbrother, but let's all be honest...what we really want is Haymitch and Effie hooking up on the downlow on that fancy train. Just me?


10 comments:

  1. "She had to do everything in this film, she carried the whole thing on her very capable shoulders. I must say I was surprised by this a little bit, I know she is an Oscar nominated actress, but I haven't seen Winter's Bone."

    You wouldn't be surprised by it at all if you had seen Winter's Bone. She didn't have much exciting stuff to do in X-Men, and yeah if that was the only movie I'd seen her in I wouldn't even notice her. But yeah she was phenomenal as Katniss. I don't think anyone else could have pulled off that role even close to what she did with it. The scene I'm always struck by the most is the one where Katniss and Cinna are standing in that room right before Katniss gets sucked up into the tube to be injected into the arena. She is just quietly trying not to lose her shit, and you can see her slightly shaking. It perfectly puts you in her shoes and makes you realize how much you would be SHITTING your pants in that situation, hahaha. Very impressive.

    "I also think the film should have had a bit more blood and gore. There was barely any."

    I didn't have an issue with the lack of blood and gore until the final few scenes of the arena section of the movie. Katniss and Peeta were WAY too perky and clean and un-injured based on how they are supposed to be at that moment. Peeta is supposed to be bleeding to death because his leg is hanging by a thread and Katniss is supposed to be deaf in one ear from the earlier bomb blast (and also I think her head would was much worse in the book). The movie made it seem like they just had some minor scratches that were no big deal by that point. But I bitched about why that annoyed me in the comments section of MediaSavant's review so I won't go into it here, haha.

    "What we really want is Haymitch and Effie hooking up on the downlow on that fancy train. Just me?"

    HA, not just you.

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  2. Thanks for writing this review. It's good to get different perspectives.

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    1. I'm glad you went and saw it. It's definitely not the borefest of idiocy that is Twilight.

      -Multipass

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  3. The film doesn’t really get going until they actually do get to The Hunger Games, but when it does get started up its entertaining, tense, unpredictable, and very well executed from Gary Ross. I also couldn't believe that this was his 3rd film after other flicks such as Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, which are both good but are different from this one. Still though, great jobs from everybody involved and I cannot wait for the sequel. Good review.

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  4. As I've said before, I loved it. I thought it was paced well, delivered the necessary exposition, and most importantly was treated seriously by all those involved.

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    1. It would have been so easy to make it terrible but they didn't.

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  5. The only thing worse than this movie was Stanley Tuccis characters hairstyle in it.

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  6. as someone who had not read any of the books or no idea about anything hunger games related , I thought it was ok . Where they LOST me was the love story . The dude is in tbe group looking to kill her , then all of a sudden they change the rules and she goes to find him - then save him and what not . If I was supposed to buy that , I didn't and that's where it fell apart for me . I guess though that was the point though because my friend told me . I think they should have made that a liittke more apparent . That's my only gripe in an otherwise enjoyable movie .

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    1. He was simply surviving and, in the process, trying to protect her from them.

      How could you not see that?

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    2. What Geek furious said ^

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