Happy Hunger Games!
I got a chance to see The Hunger Games in between shows this weekend, and I absolutely loved it! It was one of the best adaptations I’ve seen I think (probably up there with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). That probably sounds crazy to any non-Hunger Games fans out there– or my brother (I can already hear him: “What?!? Nothing will ever be as good as The Lord of the Rings movies! EVER!!!”), but they kept everything important in and added some really interesting details that were only hinted at in the book.
I think I’m about to commit a heinous English-major heresy, but here goes: I think I like The Hunger Games movie better than the books. I know, I know, crazy, especially coming from the girl who insists on reading the books before watching the movies. But I have reasons! I read a post where Noelle (aka gingerhaze) mentioned that she liked the fact that in the movie you got to see both sides of the games; both the tributes playing in them and the game-makers, commentators, and audience. It added a really interesting perspective that was hinted at in the book, but never fully fleshed out. Haymitch’s reactions were especially good– his total disgust during the scene where the brother and sister are acting out the Games was telling, and explained the heavy drinking.
I think we also both agree that Katniss is way more interesting and likeable when you aren’t hearing every thought that goes through her head (although, in her defense, this is probably true of most people). By the end of Mockingjay I was kind of tired of Katniss as a narrator, which is probably a combination of being frustrated with her and the fact that I’m not really a fan of first-person POV in general. Luckily, the movie avoided all of those POV issues, and Jennifer Lawrence’s acting was so fantastic that you didn’t need any voice-overs to explain her thoughts (one of my main problems when I watched Eclipse with Rachael a few weeks ago; whenever Kristen Stewart’s voice-over would start I would think “Ugh, not again. No one cares what you think, Bella!” But without it you wouldn’t have understood any of Bella’s decisions. Jennifer Lawrence: 1, Kristen Stewart: 0).
And can we please talk about the special effects and costumes? They brought District 12 to life, in all its bare-bones grittiness, which created such a wonderful contrast with the extravagance and weirdness of the Capitol costumes and set. The picture of Effie doesn’t even begin to do justice to how awesome her costumes and makeup were. One thing I thought was funny was the fact that the Capitol reminded me of Naboo from The Phantom Menace whenever they showed a panoramic view of the city. (Does it make me a dork for noticing that?)
I loved the way they portrayed Katniss and Peeta’s relationship. The buildup of their friendship during the training period was believable, and made me really root for them (even though I already liked Peeta more than Gale anyway). The only mini-problem I had is that Peeta is just so adorable that it’s almost not fair- when characters are that selfless and sweet (and just a teensy bit one-dimensional to be perfectly honest) it can make real, flawed, nonfictional people seem really lame. But Josh Hutcherson was so genuine and adorable that I can forgive Peeta for being a little too perfect. I appreciated that it didn’t get super make-out-y during the cave scene though, because I think their relationship would have been more awkward and less cute that way. I think Noelle summed up that scene nicely in her comic:
I think it was a good idea to stay true to the book and show Haymitch telling her that being in love with Peeta is a good strategy to get sponsors, but it was very obvious in the movie that she really cared for him and wasn’t just being cold and calculating the entire time (I think that got lost a little in the book, because book-Katniss sometimes seems like a robot). The fact that Katniss was so obviously conflicted when she makes eye contact with Gale while holding hands with Peeta is more proof of Jennifer Lawrence’s acting ability, and it honestly made the love triangle seem less cliched and cheesy, which is always a plus.
Looking over this, I noticed that I’ve qualified a lot of the good things I’ve said about this movie. But I honestly really loved this movie, and I’m planning on going to see it again when it hits the cheaper theater, and I might have to buy it once it comes out on DVD. It’ll be interesting to see what I think after I get a chance to reread the book and see the movie again, because it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, and I might be attributing some of the weird politics of Mockingjay to the first book. The acting and quality of the special effects and costumes definitely make it a worthwhile watch.