Happy Hunger Games: Reviewing the Film

Happy Hunger Games: Reviewing the Film

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read Thursday’s post, you’ll know that there were a few specific things I hoped to see in The Hunger Games when I trundled over to my local theater at midnight that night.

Aside from my chagrin at seeing the queue of tweens squealing and wearing “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” shirts, the movie did not disappoint.

I found Jennifer Lawrence to be perfect for the part. Some critics didn’t enjoy her performance, but I thought she brought the necessary resolve and stoicism to the role that Katniss exhibits in the book. When she needed to show that emotion, she did — and I found it moving and the perfect contrast to the parts where she hid her emotions.

Several scenes stood out.

They changed the origin of the mockingjay pin (in an effort to trim the cast, I assume), and Katniss gives it to Prim for protection in one of the opening scenes. Knowing what was coming, that moment struck me, as did the time-stretching moment, that horrible silence after Effie Trinket calls out Prim’s name at the Reaping. Time stood still watching that little girl almost stagger forward until Katniss’s anguished voice cut through the silence. And later, Prim’s tiny almost-whisper as she handed the pin back to Katniss, “For protection.”

The second moment came as Peeta blurted out how his mother had discounted him. “Now District 12 might finally have a victor” — meaning Katniss. I was surprised by Josh Hutcherson‘s often-poignant and also downright winning and charming portrayal of Peeta Mellark. His interview with Caesar Flickerman made the top five Peeta moments of the movie for me, and I think Hutcherson will be a new face to keep your eyes peeled for in the coming years.

Cinna‘s costume was stunning, as expected, but the moment that touched me was how he cradled a shaking, silent Katniss as the seconds counted down to the start of the Games. Their relationship rang spot on — kudos to Lenny Kravitz for his portrayal of Cinna.

Once in the arena, the bloodbath at the Cornucopia was filmed in jerky, violent spurts, although the actual violence was depressingly PG-13. C’est la vie. Everything happened very quickly, which I think was a good turn toward realism on the part of director Gary Ross.

Rue’s death and Katniss’s cracking voice as she sang her to sleep was all I could have hoped for.

The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the exchange of District 11′s lovely gift of bread for Katniss in favor of a riot in the district. While I get trading a quiet moment of symbolism for Hollywood mayhem, I missed the gesture of that symbol and felt that it cheated District 11 of their nobility for making it, instead showing them as violent workers rising up against the government rather than showing their more subversive support for a tribute who wasn’t their own.

The growing emotion between Peeta and Katniss rang true, as did their raw discussion of the day he threw her the bread. The only disruption to the flow there was how they continually cut to Gale’s face with every kiss Peeta and Katniss shared, though I understand why they did that.

One thing I felt tremendously grateful for is that Katniss remained the hero. They did not try and make Peeta into a white knight, and they also did not emasculate him. They portrayed Katniss and Peeta as equals, and they did it beautifully.

Overall, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more satisfied with a book-to-film adaptation. They upheld the integrity of Katniss’s character and the story, and I look forward to Catching Fire next year – till then, I’ll be paying the theater another visit for this one, and I haven’t done that in a long while.

And oh yeah, the food was glorious.

What did you think about the movie?

Happy Hunger Games, gentle viewers, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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