Movie Review: The Hunger Games

First off, I really enjoyed the film and I thought it was excellent. Phew. Now you can all take a breath and decide if you really want to read the rest of the review or will go merrily on your way knowing that a huge fan of the series wasn’t let down by the film production of its characters. Honestly, I would have enjoyed the movie a whole lot more if I hadn’t been on the edge of my seat in fear that they would ruin it.

They didn’t.

Let us all clap our hands. ::CLAPHANDS:: I think this is probably due to the fact that Suzanne Collins had an instrumental part in the screen writing and production of the film. You go girl.

The Hunger Games is the story of one girl’s journey to womanhood, and along the way a nation grows as well. Katniss Everdeen is born in District 12, where they mine coal, and sent to the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death among 26 tributes, a pair from each District. The United States has been through a devastating war and divided into Districts centered around The Capital, a place of opulence, avarice, and stupidity. Sorry, can’t really think of a big word for stupid. Um, asshikery?

Katniss has some mad skills, fights for her survival, so she can simply return home to care for her sister and mostly catatonic mother. She enters the Hunger Games with her counter part Peeta, the baker’s son. A boy who understands how the play the game, and he plays it well.

Now for some spoilery bits for those who haven’t read the books after the break…

I’m a huge fan of the books. I think Katniss one of the best heroine’s to emerge in literature in the young adult arena, and frankly the adult sci/fi arena (which is basically the only one that I read for such women), in a long time. She is fierce, she doesn’t give up,  she doesn’t rely on men to come through for her in the end as she is tied up to a chair crying. But Katniss is more than just a bad ass, she is also giving, and kind, and she looks out for those in her care. I think Jennifer Lawrence embodied these character traits of Katniss to perfection. But after seeing her debut in A Winter’s Bone, I was not that surprised.

No, I was more worried about The Boys, Peeta and Gale. One thing that was a little frustrating, though I understand the time constraint limits, was Gale’s minimal part in this first movie. He really have only three short scenes in the beginning and then some humorous cuts to his face at key moments throughout. Other than that, he was rather a background character and it wasn’t as clear in the movie as it is in the book how Katniss relies heavily on his friendship for mental health and emotional stability. Josh Hutcherson on the other hand had quite a bit of the spot light as Peeta, and he was great. I loved his ability to play the crowd, which was exactly how I imagined Peeta. So I was very happy with his performance. Also, I love the underdog. And I’m tired of woman only go after the alpha males because they make a big stink, sometimes its the gamma male who is always there that really deserves consideration. Just saying. I’m team Peeta for sure, so I’m biased. But that also means my praise of Hutcherson’s performance is not perfunctory.

I have a couple of quibbles with the movie, and I’m putting them way down here in this post because I think they are truly quibbles. I’m not a fan of how the mockingjay pin was played in the movie. It had greater meaning in the book, but I understand why they did it that way, I’m not sore about, just a bit miffed. Woody Harrelson did not look like Haymitch in my mind, but he played Haymitch like I saw Haymitch in my mind, so I got over the looking part quickly. I think Harrelson, from the interviews I read anyway, really understood the emotional components of Haymitch, how he was more than just a drunk with a bad attitude.  My third quibble is how Stanley Tucci played Caesar, I had higher expectations and they were not met. I think the writing could have been better for his scenes, and they could have been played a little more subtle cat and mouse. Caesar’s interviews were very clever in the book, and they didn’t come off as quite that clever, more a little showy. But as I said, these are all minor quibbles and didn’t detract from the movie at all, and in fact, I am going to go and see it again since I can now just sit there and be entertained, and no longer have to worry about how it is all going to play out.

I’ve also noticed so boo hoos on the cinematography. Yes, Pierce, I saw your Facebook posting. Anyway, I could have done without all the shaky camera work in the beginning, and the jostling around, but I think the director tried to show what Katniss was feeling without having a voice over. Was he always successful? Not particularly. But Katniss’ voice, her presence in the book, was so vital to the strength of her character, her badassery, if you will, that I liked the director trying to get that across as best as he could. Once Katniss settled into the game, the cinematography did too, and then it was awesomeness and gorgeousness.

I have to give a big shout out to Elizabeth Banks, who was Effie Trinket personified. I never once thought, “Elizabeth Banks looks….” I thought, “Effie looks…” and that says something about Banks ability as an actress. She was awesome. I was also pleased that each of the kills in the game went exactly as the kills in the book did. This makes sense, hear me out. How the kills/accidents went down shapes the personality and character of each person involved and to change them would be to change the character. I was so afraid that the producers wouldn’t want to deal with yet another actor/child being part of an important scene that they would cut it down to three people involved in the kills or accidents and ruin the movie. But they didn’t, each kill went exactly like the book, exactly like I imagined it, only better because it was on a big screen and made me jump and cringe, and I was happy.

I am serious, I’m going to go and see this in the theater again. And if you know me, there is no bigger compliment. I’m going to a matinee and praying there is not another teeny bopper sitting behind me sobbing for 2 1/2 hours after saying snottily, “This is *not* how I imagined it.” Because honestly, if that happens again while watching this movie, I might I have to give the girl something to really cry about. UGH. Seriously, extreme emotions in five minutes and sobbing (ACTUAL SOBS PEOPLE) throughout a movie are a indication of some emotional problems, and I think you need help. Serious help.

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6 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Hunger Games

  1. I’ve been on the edge about seeing this one, but after this review I definitely plan to (it helps that I have a movie voucher to use up :D). Thanks so much for such a thoughtful, insightful review, Jami. I really like that you’ve looked at the film as a whole, as well as how it’s tied in with the book. It certainly had some big shoes to fill!

  2. Katniss is one of my favorite fictional heroines. She is strong, courageous and kind. I have read the books over and over again. Well, I should say that I have listened to them because they are audio books. But I never tire of them. The movie was true to the novels except that I would have liked to see more. The movie was just too short to show all of the emotion that the novels bring. But for the time allotted, the movie was right on track with the books.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. Katniss is also one of my favorite fictional heroines. And I really need to re-read the books I’ve decided. While I understand a movie can’t always convey the exact emotion that a book can, I was hoping for a little bit more, but they did an excellent job so I am not complaining overly much. I thought the movie not only represented the story of the book, but aptly interpreted the content of the story. I was pleased.

  4. As Jennifer Lawrence has put it… Katniss is like a modern day Joan of Arc… a warrior for the people… That is why Jennifer loves the character of Katniss, as is the same reason for me as well 🙂 I liked your review, though I can’t say I really liked the film upon the first viewing of it. I was pretty underwhelmed in all actuality… Though I went again, and the second time I made a conscious effort to not compare the book to the movie (or as much as humanly possible that is)… and, by doing so, I truly found myself enjoying the movie much more the second time around. …. Thanks for your take on it. Enjoyed the read. 🙂

    • Katniss is definitely one of my favorite characters. I guess, I went into the movie expecting it to go terribly wrong, and found it was quite fun and entertaining. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the movie the second time around. It may have helped that I had not read the book in some time and was just looking for the same feeling, because it is definitely hard not to compare a book to a movie. Especially when you love the book so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the review! 😀

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