Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie

Disclaimer: I will try really hard not to give away any spoilers, but be forewarned that I'm writing this primarily to people who have read The Hunger Games book, so read at your own risk!

Credit: The Hunger Games Movie Channel on You Tube

Thursday night I was still on the fence over whether I wanted to go see The Hunger Games at midnight or not. If I didn't have to be to work at 8am on Friday there would be no question and I even entertained the idea of calling in sick on Friday. Tyler works 10pm-6am and Thursday night was one of his days off, so he offered to go with me since he would be wide awake. I debated and debated up until 11:30pm when I decided, coffee in hand, "LET'S DO THIS!"

We planned out which theater we would attend based on what Fandango was listing as sold out and what the general clientele of the area would be (aka we could not go to the theater by my house that separates me from a very ghetto area!); we got it down to a science. We chose The Outlets in Orange (formerly and really known as The Block) because they had showings until 2am with none sold out so we figured we could find a showing where we would not be packed in like sardines. Our theater was actually only about half full for the 12:30am showing and the crowd wasn't obnoxious at all. No waiting in line, no annoying people, I was SUPER TIRED, but as soon as the movie started I was well enough awake to enjoy the film.

As with any film adaptation of a book, they cut out a lot of things and had to color in between the gaps this caused. This annoyed me so much, but it was understandable. The beginning of the movie (up until the Games began) felt rushed and had the most inconsistency with the book. I was also very frustrated by the lack of characterization I felt compared to the book (I know, I am going to sound like a broken record comparing to the book by the end of this!). They did a very poor job of illustrating the back-and-forth emotions Katniss feels toward Peeta while training; I just felt Katniss & Peeta's relationship was very sloppily pasted together and it left me unsatisfied. I would have rather the movie be 2 hours & 30 minutes vs 2 hours and 20 minutes if it meant them better developing this vital conflict Katniss experiences in trusting Peeta.

Once the Games begin, I felt the film did a great job of keeping in line with the book. I felt very satisfied by that. The special effects, however, are a different story...

What was the budget for this film, because I imagine it was astronomical, no? The special effects felt SO CHEAP!! Tyler and I were both shocked! The Girl On Fire should now be referred to as The Girl on Green Screen. Seriously. I said it. I was so disappointed and surprised! The whole scene where the tributes ride into the Capitol on their chariots should have just been scrapped. It must have been the last scene they filmed and they had run out of money! Ironic that the scene with horses looked Photoshopped to death considering the director of The Hunger Games also directed Seabiscuit.

Furthermore, the camera angles were highly irritating; Tyler referred to them as angles that tried to make up for the fact that they couldn't afford high quality cameras. At times I couldn't tell if they were trying to make it feel like you were watching a roughly filmed reality show (i.e. like you were watching the Games from a district in Panem) or if the director just really, really sucked. Regardless, it made watching action scenes very difficult, especially considering my eyes were already heavy. You almost couldn't tell what was going on at some points, which may have been intentional, but it left me feeling annoyed & like something was missing. They also did WAY too many close up shots on faces which got irritating. I don't need to see freckles 50% of the time, people. Although, I must admit, Peeta's eyes were striking on screen. Sigh. I'll take that complaint back, I guess. ;)

My final rant: while I do enjoy Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, I felt the script made Katniss much less likable than the books, which was very unfortunate. While it's totally understandable for Katniss to act the way she is portrayed in the film, I think we love her so much more in the books because we experience the storms of emotion beneath her stoicism.

Wow, I didn't think I had so much rant in me! Sorrrrrrry!! I do have good things to say though!

Once the Games begun, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (despite the jittery action sequences) because of how well it illustrated the book. I enjoyed all of the actors that were cast (except Effie Trinket) and, as much as I want to lie about this, I found myself drooling over 19 year old Josh Hutcherson by the end of the movie which made me feel really gross (I hope Tyler doesn't read this... HA). The "on-screen romance" of Katniss and Peeta that developed made me giddy like a girl in middle school (that CAVE! Oh, that cave...). I cried during the Reaping scene where Katniss takes Primm's place even though I've seen it every day on the tv commercial and I cried during the sweet scene with Katniss & Rue.

One thing I really appreciated was how they showed what the Capitol and the other Districts were going through as they watched The Hunger Games. You were able to understand the story behind why the rules were changed and how much pressure really was on Seneca Crane to make a show worth watching while containing Katniss' "spark". Because the books are in first person via Katniss, you don't get any of that information in the books. And since Suzanne Collins both wrote the books and co-wrote the screenplay, I trusted that the experiences with the Capitol & Districts were exactly what she had in mind when she was writing the book and setting up the sequels.

Similarly, they allowed the movie watchers to see the televised Hunger Games program hosted by Caesar Flickerman which gave those who hadn't read the book some vital information about things such as rules and trackerjackers. I thought this was a little bit cheesy, but it was a fun way to help people better understand everything and for us to see what a spectacle they make of the barbarous Hunger Games.

Overall, the movie was really, REALLY good (despite my long list of rants). I think I just had unreasonably high expectations that the film didn't quite meet. I won't say it was "the best film adaptation of a book EVER" because it wasn't. But it was good enough for me to see again in theaters (and I NEVER go see movies in theaters!).
Bottom line: It was worth going to the midnight showing and I don't regret it, but dudes need to take some notes from the people who did the Harry Potter movies and amp it up a bit next time!! The world will be watching, so get it right! ;)

Did you see The Hunger Games yet? What did you think? Did you read the books? And please, don't hate me for my rants, I totally love if you loved the movie more than I did! :)

I highly recommend reading Dan's Review of the movie here. I feel like he articulated much of what I felt throughout the film better than I could while also expressing why he liked the camera techniques I was probably too tired & cranky to enjoy ;). This helped me appreciate them better and I look forward to keeping his review in mind when I watch the film again! :)


  1. Great review. This is a colorful and entertaining film, and I was constantly wrapped up in it as a drama. It isn't the kind of bombastic event we usually get as a franchise blockbuster and for that I’m thankful. It also helps that the ensemble cast is nothing short of amazing either, and that Jennifer Lawrence's career will hopefully totally hit super-start status after this because she's great as well. Check out my review when you can.

  2. I was really surprised at how much I liked the movie! They did take a long time on the capitol stuff and not as much time on the hunger games in my opinion, but somehow they were able to squeeze most of it in!

    1. I agree completely! :) I saw it a second time and liked it so much more because I wasn't as critical haha! I cannot wait until the next movie!! November 2013 cannot come soon enough!!


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