Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Review

 The much anticipated movie adaptation of The Hunger Games came out this past Friday, which of course you know unless you've been living under a rock and staying away from all social media, TV and news outlets.  I saw it Friday night, along with about six million other people, many who were wearing Hunger Games themed t-shirts.  I did not see anyone totally dressed up as you might for Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but maybe they were at the midnight showing.  Do tell if you were there.

I was very excited about seeing The Hunger Games.  I was also really nervous.  I'd been hearing only positive things about the movie, and I was so hopeful that it was going to be a good adaptation.  I was also half expecting my hopes to be bitterly, bitterly crushed, as, alas, so often happens with books you love that get made in to movies.  But not always!

Over all, I was really happy with the movie. In terms of plot, it was surprisingly true to the book.  I don't know if I've ever seen a book-to-movie adaptation that was closer.  The things they did change I could absolutely see and understand why they were changed.  It was emotional and action-packed and I thought the acting was excellent.

Spoilers ahead!
Let's talk about the acting first.  Jennifer Lawrence is awesome.  I thought she was excellent.  She's such a good actor that even when she's not speaking you can see from the emotions of her face what she's thinking about.  This, of course, was important as Katniss does a whole lot of trying to figuring things out while in the arena. Liam Hemsworth I don't have much to say about as he was hardly in the movie at all.  I quite liked Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, although sometimes I feel like he came off as a little too helpless.

I loved Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and wished there was more of her.  Likewise Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane were excellent.  Seneca Crane's facial hair was also excellent all on its own.  I loved getting to see all the crazy Capital fashions, and I thought they did a really good job of making them seem outrageous and ridiculous, but also felt threatening.

One of my favorite parts of the movie that you did not get to see in the books was the gamemakers at work.  Being able to see Seneca Crane working with dozens of other people in an incredibly sterile and high-tech room deliberately making things more difficult and painful for the tributes was very powerful for me.  It was just such a contrast.  Everything was so clean and organized in the control room, and then Seneca Crane would ask for someone to insert a burning tree almost crushing Katniss and a second later it's there.  It really drove home the fact that to the people of the Capital, it all is just a show.

We also got to see some interactions between Seneca Crane and President Snow we didn't get in the book.

What was most missing for me was Katniss' internal dialogue.  The movie doesn't go into her head (which is good, as that would have been kind of cheesy) and while Jennifer Lawrence definitely can express a lot of internal conflict without saying a thing, it's not quite the same as being able to be inside Katniss' head like you are in the book.  Because of this, I was a lot less emotionally attached to people then I was in the book.

I also felt that because everything, obviously, had to be very condensed, it didn't have them same amount of drama and tension.  There was no feeling of "at last!"  At last she finds water!  At last she gets the bow!  At last she and Rue work out a plan!  At last she finds Peeta!  While there were plenty of people crying in the theater when Rue died, I hadn't spent enough time with the movie version of Rue to have that kind of emotional reaction.  We really hadn't gotten to see that much of Rue.  Certainly it was sad and awful to see a little girl die in such a horrible way, but it wasn't as powerful.  Much more powerful for me was seeing Katniss totally fall apart afterwards and I think that's because we'd actually spent time with that character.

I was talking with a fellow librarian today and I thought she brought up a very good point.  If you hadn't read the books, was it clear that Katniss didn't really love Peeta?  I'm not sure if it was, and that's pretty important.  If you're not familiar with the books, it might just seem that Katniss is developing feelings for Peeta as the games go on.  Because we don't have Katniss' internal monologue, this would have had to be explicitly said at some point and I don't think it was.

Much like with the Harry Potter movies, if you've read the books you do a lot of filling in the holes, and if you haven't read the books, well, I guess you don't know what you're missing.

Two more things. First of all, Jennifer Lawrence isn't fat and people need to stop saying stupid things like this.  No one seems to be complaining that Gale look far to clean and fit to be living in District 12 now are they?  Second, this is disgusting and upsetting.  There was plenty of this when the casting was first released and it's still going on.

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