Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games: The Odds Were in Their Favor

I should totally be doing homework right now, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  And I gotta gush!

Hubby and I went to see Hunger Games last night.  I had bought my tickets a month in advance (because I'm a huge nerd) and we had chosen the 9:45 show so we could go out for a nice dinner together beforehand.  We wound up grilling steaks and eating at home instead, but it was definitely a nice dinner.  :)

We got to the theatre probably 15-20 minutes before showtime.  We grabbed some popcorn (Hubby's an addict) and drinks and went to find seats.  It wasn't as crowded as I had anticipated!  We decided to sit fairly close to the front (primarily because we didn't want to deal with the teenagers toward the back) and had our whole little row to ourselves.  

We got to see some fun previews.  The upcoming Spiderman movie looks pretty intense, though I still don't understand why they're making it so shortly after the other trilogy ended.  What To Expect When You're Expecting actually looks like it could be good!  The cast is stellar, at least, so if it's not good, that's just sad.  And, of course, there was a short preview for the next Twilight movie (which some people actually booed at; I didn't think that was necessary, but it was a little funny).  

And then it was time.

From the opening shot through the end of the movie, I'm not sure I blinked.  I didn't want to miss a single detail, a single moment.  District 12 was almost exactly as I had imagined it: the fence at the edge, the Hob, everything.  The colors and outrageous fashions in the Capitol were beyond what I even imagined.  And the arena was equal parts beautiful and terrifying.

Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss.  Beautiful and strong, she represented everything that Katniss is in the books and I was routing for her just as fervently as I had while reading.  Liam Hemsworth is a little too pretty boy for my taste.  I kind of pictured Gale as being a bit more rough around the edges with an ooey-gooey center, you know?  But that's just me.  Everyone was so gung-ho about Josh Hutcherson from the get-go as Peeta, but I wasn't convinced.  Until I saw the movie.  He was wonderful, playing the perfect counterpart to Jennifer's socially awkward, but well-intentioned Katniss.

I still say that Woody was damn near the perfect Haymitch, though I expected a little more of a struggle with him.  And I was very pleasantly surprised that Lenny Kravitz did such a great job as Cinna.  


If you haven't read the books and/or seen the movie, you might want to stop reading now and come back another time.

OK.  Last chance.  Going once?  Going twice?  Gone.

The Good
I already pointed out some of the good, but here are a few other things I just have to praise.
  • The screenplay, for the most part, stayed very true to the story told in the book.  Sometimes when books are adapted for screen or TV, you get some weird things going on where you're going, "WTF?  That never happened!"  I was never seriously upset about the changes that were made (perturbed, yes, but not upset) and the story line itself stayed intact.  
  • The use of the Hunger Games commentators and media.  I was wondering how they would explain certain things, since a lot of the book's descriptions are in Katniss' mind as she narrates.  The commentators during the games did a great job of getting some of that settled, as did the film shown at the reaping.
  • The outfits.  Katniss is, after all, the girl on fire!  And the movie did not disappoint.  In my mind, the first outfit (in the chariot) was a bit more elaborate, but I think I liked the simplicity in the movie.  The effect was stunning.  And the dress with the flames was actually breathtaking. 
The Bad
OK, nothing was REALLY bad about the movie, but there were a few things that bothered me.
  • The mockingjay pin.  In the books, the pin is so significant.  It's a symbol of one of Katniss' few friendships back home, and then becomes all the more important when she finds out it was owned by a former Hunger Games tribute.  In the movie, she just stumbles across it at the Hob and then gives it to Prim to keep her safe?  WTF?  We don't even give Prim much thought in the book until her name is called at the reaping, but from the opening, we're so focused on how scared she is.  It comes as no surprise when Prim's name is picked because we've done the whole, "Oh, it'll never happen!  You'll be safe!" thing.
  • Avox?  What's an Avox?  Not a damn thing about them (save for an early reference that Katniss makes about the Capitol removing their tongues as potential punishment).  Maybe they'll get into it for the second movie, but I was definitely disappointed they were left out. 
  • Cinna's team.  In the book, we get way closer to his team of crazy stylists, and they play rolls in the next books as well, so why did we just gloss over them?  Hopefully that will also be remedied in the next movie.
  • The pivotal moment when the announcers tell the tributes that two of them can win if they're from the same district, and Katniss automatically cries out for Peeta.  In the movie, she just barely whispers his name and then goes to find him.  In the book, it's this point that they use to explain when Katniss really begins to love Peeta (at least in her interviews).  She calls out for him without first thinking about giving away her own position, and this hushed version felt less special to me.
The (In)Different
There were a few other things that were tweaked in the movie that weren't necessarily good or bad.  Just different.
  • The parachutes.  I understand it would be hard to explain the thought process Katniss goes through to figure out the timing of the parachutes, so the little notes were cute.  They totally skipped the one that has the sleeping serum for Peeta (so Katniss can slip out and get his medicine), but still made it work.  
  • The mutts.  Actually, I'm a little glad they didn't make them so strongly resemble the fallen tributes as they had in the book.  That was effing scary, and because we didn't spend as much time focusing on each tribute in the movie, it might not have had the same effect anyway.
  • Rue.  She was more timid than in the book.  It was endearing, and did make her a lot like Prim (one of the main reasons Katniss takes to her so well), but I missed the line where she tells the audience not to discount her.
  • Haymitch.  Not nearly as sloppy drunk as he is in the book.  I kind of thought Woody could've played more into that, but I also understand that Haymitch isn't the focus of the story.  Plus, this way we didn't have to see him puking and Peeta having to clean him up.  That's a win.
  • Post-games.  They didn't go through the process to heal the winning tributes, nor did Katniss and Peeta have much of  a falling out at the end (you know, once more for the cameras).  The emphasis was on the games, and that's OK, but some more dialogue between the victors could've been helpful in setting up the next movie.
In all fairness, I don't know for certain there will be follow up movies, but, c'mon.  You can't leave with President Snow just walking away and expect me to think that's that!  Even without reading the books, that just screams, "Unfinished business!  Sequel's a-coming!"

All in all, I definitely encourage you to see the movie.  Reading the books first will give you a greater appreciation and understanding of what you're watching, but if you prefer just to see the movies, then happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor!                

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