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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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on March 24, 2012, in Salacious Saturday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait to watch the movie. Should be in the next 24 hours. Even if my friend ditches me I’m still going alone. In my half-insane state, I just published a post on Why I Hate The Hunger Games about a minute or two before you. Lol!

  2. You may want to stick a spoiler alert atop your post so folks not wanting to know about some key plot points wont have a hissy fit. I had a co-worker that would plug his ears and make make goofy noises if I was discussing a show or movie I’d seen. Some folks like to go into a movie “cold”.
    You were distressed by the large amount of tweens at the show? Really? The book and movie are supposed to be aimed at them, why wouldn’t they be there? Where you surprised by them at “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” premiers? Hello same target audience.

    • Whoops, got distracted by my puppy and forgot the spoiler alert, sorry! I’ll add that.

      Not distressed, surprised they were allowed to be out that late. Yeah, I know it’s the target audience, but it was also a school night. Call me old-fashioned, but when I was 13-16, my mom wouldn’t let me stay out till 3 on a school night no matter how awesome the movie was supposed to be. My curfew was 2 even as an 18-year-old high school senior. When I went to the Harry Potter premieres it tended to be mostly college age students despite the target audience. I’m just sayin’.

  3. Just got back from the movie–took my preteen son and his friends. I didn’t read the book, but I thought the movie was fantastic (once I could get over the subject matter–not easy for a mom to do 🙂 ). I agree with your review. The actors were well cast, and I was particularly happy to see Katniss and Peeta saving each other, so that as you said, Peeta wasn’t emasculinated nor was he a white knight. Suppose now I will have to read the book…

  4. I think I’ve been living under a rock for the past while – or maybe its because I don’t have kids/grandkids in the right age group, but I hadn’t even heard of “The Hunger Games” (books or movie) until the publicity started for the movie. I guess I’d best pay a visit to Amazon and at least read the books.

  5. “They portrayed Katniss and Peeta as equals.” – I’m very glad to hear this!

    I’m disappointed to hear that they left out District 11’s gift of bread, that was one of my favorite moments. 😦

    Your review has definitely relieved a lot of my fears for the movie. Now, I can’t wait to see it!

  6. Great review! I saw the movie yesterday and loved it. I agree with everything you said, even the small details that bugged you. But it was wonderful. My heart broke for Peeta! So sweet and smart. And Katniss was kick ass.

  7. Overall, I really liked the movie, too – though I thought the constant cutaways to the outside world were a little distracting at times, and I completely agree with you about the riot in District 11. I get that the filmakers had to bring in the element of district unrest, but I thought that was a poor choice. Othewise, loved it, thought all the actors were wonderful. Surprised that I liked it as much as I did. (And I swear even though they didn’t mention it in the movie I could smell the blood & roses on President Snow’s breath…) 🙂

  8. Saw the movie Saturday night and really enjoyed it. I haven’t read the books (and was honestly afraid to before the movie… that tends to be a letdown as we all know) but could still see there were a ton of subtleties hinted at but not fully developed. I’m looking forward to reading the books now, though. I enjoyed the performances in the film and am eager to get deeper into the nuances of the characters and plots with the books.

  9. I loved the books and really enjoyed the movie. I think they did a great job with it. There are so many themes and so much depth to the book, it had to be hard to decide what to cut and when. I felt the reaping was the most powerful scene. The way they pulled it off with the dead silence, so eerie. As the father of a little girl, I found myself almost getting choked up in that scene. The only thing I didn’t like was the spinning/dizzying camera thing going on during the action scenes. Made me motion sick lol

  10. Hi Emmie,

    I L_O_V_E_D the movie, but must confess I have not read the series(I know this is shocking and appalling), but I promise you I will read it now. For a viewer without the book background I found the movie wonderfully told. I did get tidbits of book refrences as the movie went along on from my girlfriends (we went to the midnight viewing as well!) and did kick myself for not reading the book beforehand as my dear friend Angela adviced me to.

    I went in not reading the book in fear that the movie would not live up to its expectations, but from my friends, you and many voiced others, this turned out to be not so and all it seemed did leave the theatre very happy!

    I loved your review of the movie and look foward to getting myself up to date with my fellow readers and fans. Next year, next movie, I’ll be ready!

    P.S. I think I’m liking Peeta :0)

    A.D.

  11. Really nice movie! After this movie I looking for the same book.

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