Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bottom Line:

Watch it.


[Light spoilers]

I’m going to try really hard not to go crazy on this review because I know a lot of people are going to be talking about this movie, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents. [EDIT: Obviously this is me trying not to go crazy and failing completely. Sorry about that.]

(P.S. Here’s a great review from a movie writer at Hypable. Definitely worth your time, and a bit more technical than mine will be if that’s your thing. And here’s a fellow movie reviewer’s take on it. We’re both fans of the books and our reviews definitely echo each other’s, so you’ve got to know the movie was that good! AND here’s another one by a fellow blogger. She has a few different opinions, and that’s always great to read about! And, lastly, here’s a fellow nerd’s take on the film.)

Now, I’m a little biased. I was SO pumped for this movie. I’ve read all three books several times, and I love each and every one for a different reason. When I heard that they were coming out with a movie, I was extremely excited. Of course there was a little bit of fear and doubt in the back of my mind – films like Harry Potter and Twilight haven’t been super faithful to the books. And, you know, that’s fine! There’s reasons why things had to be cut and regardless of my personal opinion of how it was handled, I do understand that.

I had nothing to worry about when it came to THG.

(On a side note, [NERD WARNING] I was so excited that it literally felt like Christmas morning for me. I woke up at 4:30 and was like, Ugh, way too early. Then I woke up again at 6:30. That was fine. 6:30 I could do. I was too energized by the thought that I was finally going to see this movie to go back to sleep anyway.)

The acting was incredible. Jennifer Lawrence lived up to the expectation that everyone had of her. I’m so glad she was cast, and incredibly proud of her for stepping into these shoes. She had a lot of pressure on her shoulders, and boy did she deliver.

Peeta was great and so was Prim. I thought Gale was a little lacking, but then again he didn’t have a lot of screen time. Haymitch and Effie were wonderful, and I loved that their back-and-forth relationship translated so well from book to movie. I’d have to say that – aside from Katniss – my favorite character was Rue. She didn’t have a whole lot of screen time, but she owned it when she was there. I could probably write an entire essay on why I love her character – both in the books and in the movie – so much. Her main scene (you know the one I’m talking about…) was incredibly powerful. I wish I could say exactly what I loved about it, but I do want to try to stay away from spoilers.

I don’t cry that often (especially not in crowded movie theatres), but this movie definitely brought me to tears in a few places (if you’ve read the books, you know exactly what places those are). The acting is just that commanding.

The actual adaptation of the book was incredible. They left very, very little out. And, you know what? What they did leave out wasn’t necessary to the plot anyway. I’m not upset at all. They did add a few scenes, which was a great idea. I think a few of them worked better than others, but nothing felt out of place. One of my favorite parts of the movie as a whole was what we saw in the Gamemaker’s Center. That was really cool!

So, what were things that I had problems with? Well, everyone is citing the “shaky-cam” as one of the biggest problems. In the very beginning I did have trouble with it – it was just a little too shaky. But this pretty much drops off once you hit the Capitol, which I think does a lot for the film stylistically. Some of the action scenes at the end were similar to the beginning and it was hard to follow the fight sequences. I like seeing the fighting and the moving around in these places, so I didn’t enjoy the close-up immediacy of the style that Gary Ross (the director) used. Overall, though, it wasn’t as bad as a lot of people were making it out to be.

There were some other small things. I wished that Katniss had played up to the cameras more, like she did in the books. That was a really enjoyable thread for me in the series – her extreme consciousness of the audience that was watching her. I wished that we saw and/or knew that the mutts had the eyes of the Tributes. I felt like that really showed how sick the Capitol was, plus it does sort of become more important later on. I didn’t particularly like how the cornucopia turned out, but I thought it served its purpose well in the end.

But, really, how important were these things? Not important at all, just things I enjoyed “seeing” in the books and was hoping to see in the movie. No big deal.

The CGI was not fantastic, but it didn’t throw me off or anything. The mutts could have been better, but the scene was at night and the semi-darkness allowed them to leave some of the details out. I didn’t mind. The flames were…I’m not sure. I loved them, but they were a little off for me too. But you know what? They weren’t supposed to be real anyway, so I think it’s fine that they looked a little different, a little otherworldly. The only thing that I’m genuinely concerned about is [SPOILER WARNING] the fact that Katniss doesn’t actually love Peeta right away. I don’t think this was an easy conclusion to come to in the movie, until *maybe* the end. But, I’m sure we’ll get more of this in Catching Fire. [END SPOILER WARNING]

There were some things that genuinely surprised me. I went in thinking this wasn’t going to be a funny movie (and it’s not, just to clarify). I heard Woody Harrelson was taking Haymitch down a notch, so I thought we wouldn’t really see a whole lot of humor. Wrong. This is by no means a comedy, but I definitely laughed out loud in a few parts. There are some really witty scenes.

The way in which Ross and his team put you in the movie is actually incredible. The close-up shots and the shaky-cam both do this, but not to the extent that the sound of the movie does. The Tracker Jacker sequence was in-cred-ible. I loved how it was shot and edited, and you just knew exactly how Katniss was feeling. This same thing comes later after the explosion. The sound gets muted and you can tell that her hearing isn’t quite right. There are also some other small places in which this happens, such as when she’s nervous to be on stage with Caesar Flickerman and he has to ask her the question a second time.

I also liked how the beginning started with text on the screen explaining the Reaping. I felt that this was a simple solution to the problem of giving the backstory. I didn’t want them to waste time developing that, so I was glad to see they did it in this way. Also, the little details really made me excited, like seeing Buttercup or Prim adjusting her little duck tail.

I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of movies. This is by far the most faithful adaptation that I’ve seen. I can’t sing any higher praise for it. If you haven’t yet, read the books. They’re powerful and incredible and poignant and relevant. Then go see the movie. It’s just as good, and in some ways develops the story further than what Suzanne Collins was allowed to do in the books. If you can’t be bothered with the books, please go watch the movie anyway. You won’t be confused. They do a great job of setting up this world and really immersing you in it. Caesar Flickerman serves as the host of the Games and they cut to him to explain certain things to the people in the Capitol (and, as a result, to the movie-going audience). I went with two other people who had read the books and one who did not. The one who didn’t read them beforehand wasn’t confused at all, and all four of us came out loving it.

I can’t wait to see it again. I think I’ll probably have to give in later this week. I just don’t know if I can wait that much longer until it comes out on DVD…

  1. Love this review! You did a really great job without giving away spoilers.

    I was sorry the muttations at the end didn’t have the tributes eyes too, and I think they maybe didn’t make it clear enough that Katniss loses hearing in her one ear, but other than that, it was a really great adaptation.

    Personally I liked what they did with the camera because it felt like (a) what the people watching on Capital TV would have actually been seeing, and (b) how Katniss would have been experiencing things. It felt like they were trying to the best of their ability to keep some of the first person POV that’s hard to translate from book to screen.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Thanks, Marcy! I agree with the ear thing, too. Although, I can see enough ways to get around the reason why she needs it in the second book, so I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. Same thing with the mutts. They might even decide to just add that in later anyway.

      I love the idea behind the camera, and I definitely think it served its purpose. It made me just a tad bit dizzy in the beginning, but that was only one or two shots when it looked like someone was just running with the camera in their hands. Otherwise, though, I thought it was a great idea and that you’re absolutely right – it was the best way to keep that first person POV feel.

  2. ddog13 says:

    I agree 100%. Thanks for linking me!

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    I’m SO looking forward to these movies! The books were incredible. 🙂

  4. S. J. Maylee says:

    Spot on review!! I got to see it Monday night and OMG it was so good!! Totally agree with the negatives you pointed out, but as you said they did a bang up job!!

  5. Debra Kristi says:

    I agree with all the comments above. You nailed it! Fabulous review! I had some really noisey teens behind me for my viewing so I definitely have to see this again. The next time in a nice 21 and over setting. 🙂

    • Karen Rought says:

      Argh! Isn’t that the worst? I had a bunch of kids ruin HP6 for me. Terrible experience. That’s why I tend to go early Sunday morning – so I can avoid the crowds (and the lazy teenagers who like to sleep in!).

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