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.

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Welcome to the 74th Annual Hunger Games!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post will contain spoilers and some unbridled squees, so if either offend you, do go away and read the book. Love and kisses!

I first heard of The Hunger Games a few months ago. I don’t remember if I saw the movie trailer first or if someone mentioned the book. I do know that when I first saw the trailer, Katniss’s reaction to Prim’s name being called covered me in goosebumps. When I read the book, I couldn’t put it down. Spouse and I spent Thanksgiving in Ohio at his parents’ house, and he bought me the book for a belated birthday present. I subsequently walked to the nearby Barnes and Noble and bought the next two in the trilogy.

Here is what made this book special for me, which are, consequently, the things I hope most that the movie keeps intact:

The Hunger Games (film)

Movie poster -- so far so awesome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katniss Everdeen is a female character written by a female author the same way male authors write male characters.

For the first time in a very long while, I read a female protagonist I could relate to. She wasn’t obsessed with boys. She was a provider, a survivor. She adapted to her circumstances and fought for those she loved. Intelligent and resourceful, and willing to fight to the death to defend what mattered — willing even to defy the Grand Pooh-bahs of Panem when it meant doing what was right by Rue.

She is pragmatic and not depicted as being ruled by her emotions. She is courageous and compassionate, and while she is occasionally cynical and selfish, her “selfishness” is born out of a desire to stay alive to provide for her family. She is a hero, and it’s been a long time since I’ve found a one of those in contemporary culture.

She picks who is right for her.

This is a tricky one. If you haven’t read the trilogy in its entirety and don’t want me to spoil it, stop reading now.

When I first read the books, I started out rooting for Gale. He’d helped her provide for her family for years. He clearly had feelings for Katniss. But his reactions to her, his possessiveness when there was never an understanding between them, and his choices in the latter books turned me off of Gale. Peeta on the other hand loved Katniss her whole life.

Though Peeta had to go through the horrid ordeal of being turned against Katniss by President Snow, he came out of it with her help. Even in the first book, Gale’s ideals were shown to be uncomfortable for Katniss. His rants against the Capitol, his anger and tirades — Katniss didn’t want to be the spearhead of a rebellion. When it was forced upon her, she did her best even when people were determined to use her as a pawn, but Gale’s fervor became too much for her. I understand that, and that’s why I found the end ultimately satisfying.

My hope is that they will allow for the subtleties of those relationships to shine through in the movie, but of all the things I’m hopeful for, of that I’m most dubious about its realization.

Rue. Can we say rules? Image via teen.com.

Rue

Not only is Katniss’s relationship to Rue a clear analogy of her relationship with Prim in the arena, but it’s also one of the more politically charged situations that happen in the arena. When Katniss and Rue become friends and allies and Katniss displays such concern and care for Rue upon her death, it sparks a first in Hunger Games history: a gift from a district to the tribute of another district. Rue’s people band together to give Katniss a gift of bread.

And Katniss openly mourns Rue’s death by covering her with flowers and singing her to sleep. Aside from it being a poignant and beautiful moment in the book, I think on screen it could be affecting and truly spectacular if it’s done right. I hope it’s done right.

Awesome image of a mockingjay via hungergames.wikia.com

The Mockingjays

In the book, these little clever birds are the product of the Capitol’s muttations, the jabberjays, crossbreeding with normal mockingbirds. Instead of being able to spew back whole conversations, they are able only to repeat notes and songs. They’re also a powerful symbol throughout the trilogy, and I hope the film does them justice.

The Food

I know, I know. It’s a movie. And it’s called The Hunger Games. But the food is described in such detail in the books (clearly it would be a central feature for people who have always been hungry, much as in the descriptions of food at Hogwarts in Harry Potter), and it could be a great detail.

Katniss’s Personality

All those things I mentioned before about her pragmatism and her strength — I hope they do them justice. Hollywood has this tendency to make women in cinema more Megan Fox in Transformers than Sarah Michelle Gellar in baggy overalls in Buffy. Which is to say, they often favor sex appeal and shallow tropes over depth and well-rounded characters. I expect to see Katniss in some pretty shiny clothes during her stint at the Capitol, but one thing I really hope for is that they manage to display the depth of her character, flaws and strengths alike. Without trying to make Peeta into the hero of this show.

My Conclusion

Most of all, I’m just very excited to see this story brought to life. I’m going to the midnight showing tonight, and couldn’t be more psyched.

Have you read the books? What are you excited about? What do you most look forward to seeing? ARE YOU GOING TO SQUEE?!

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