Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Review

The highly anticipated Hunger Games movie is finally here!  We saw it yesterday morning, which has become a bit of a tradition - seeing hot new releases early the morning after release day.  It's usually not crowded and it's usually mostly adults, so we don't have to deal with screaming and giggling teenagers.

Any who, I was so excited to see the movie.  I absolutely loved the books and even read them again (for probably the 15th time!) in the week leading up to the movie.  (You can read my review of the books here.)  I think they did a really good job with the movie, the writing and the tone of the characters was especially true to the book - which it should be since the author, Suzanne Collins, was a screenwriter on the movie.  I had heard many people say that they were nervous that they would mess up the movie in the same way they messed up the Twilight movies.  That definitely didn't happen.

But it is difficult to convey the intricacies of a character who lives so much in her head, as Katniss does.  How do you convey that without doing constant voice-overs?  You can't.  So I feel like you don't get to know who Katniss really is in the movie.  I'm sure most of the people going to see the movie have already read the books, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem, but for those who haven't read the books, I don't think they're going to "get" her.

The other thing I don't think the movie portrayed very well is the hunger that exists in the districts.  None of the tributes, or even the majority of the population they showed, looked particularly malnourished.  Katniss and Peeta weren't falling all over themselves to eat on the train and in the training center.  This is such a huge theme in the first book that continues throughout the series, that I think they should have emphasized it a little better.

There are two other things I think they should have concentrated more on (which I know is difficult to do when you only have 2+ hours).  One is the importance of the parachute gifts from sponsors in the arena.  The gifts are supposed to be a life-line for the tributes, and Katniss is supposed to read into hers from Haymitch what he wants her to do.  But he only sends her two.  She doesn't receive the gift of bread from Rue's district.  I think that bread was especially important to show her love for Rue and the district's gratitude to Katniss.  It's supposed to show why they might be willing to follow her later in the story.  And I think it's important to show the different district's breads because of what happens in Catching Fire.  Katniss didn't receive the sleep syrup for Peeta so she could go retrieve his medicine.  Also, Peeta and Katniss don't receive the Capitol feast while they are in the cave, which helped them to get enough strength to get to the cornucopia for the finale of the games.  All around the country, people know the value of the parachute gifts.  Showing the importance and value of the gifts is crucial to one scene in the final book, Mockingjay, and they didn't accomplish that.

Lastly, I don't think they spent enough time establishing the connection between Peeta and Katniss.  On the train, in the training center, or in the cave.  It seemed very rushed and their "relationship" was just there.  It didn't seem to develop slowly like it did in the books.  They didn't have the deep talks and there were only two kisses.  I know they can't show everything that was in the books, but I feel like there should have been more of the relationship building.

I know it sounds like I didn't like the move, but I really did.  I'll even see it again in the theater.  I really do think they did a good job with it.  Liam Hemsworth as Gale is almost exactly as I pictured him.  Though she's a little tall, Jennifer Lawrence is very believable as Katniss.  She's athletic enough to be a believable hunter, and I think she does a very good job of portraying pain in different ways in the arena.  And Josh Hutcherson does a very good job as likable Peeta.  (Though I definitely think he's too short.  I couldn't get past it.  It didn't help that I've read several things where people called him Petite-a.)  The other tributes were also well-cast, and Katniss's mom and Prim were great as well.  Elizabeth Banks was perfect as Effie Trinkett, and because of the wigs, funky makeup and clothes, I barely even registered it was her.  Woody Harrelson portrayed Haymitch accurately, though I did always picture him older.  And Lenny Kravitz was awesome as Cinna.  He was such a breath of fresh air compared to the other people from the capitol.

I really recommend that people see this movie if they've loved the books.  It's well worth it.  Here's the trailer to get you excited:

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