Some Couple Reviews The Hunger Games
Glenn: Hello and welcome to the very first SCR to actually make the web before the film hits national release!
Thanks to a promotional offer, Kik managed to fenagle us into an advanced screening!
Glenn: She's quite a fan of the books, and now movie, and...
Glenn: ... and I rather liked the books too, particularly the first one. I actually insisted Kik read the series, since the hero of the books, Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence in the film) is soooooooooo much better a character than pathetic little Bella Swan from the Twilight books.
For anyone not familiar with the books, the story takes place in the distant future, where all that remains of North America is a central "Capitol" and outlying districts that provide it natural resources. The Capitol uses near starvation and an annual televised deathmatch to maintain control over the districts. Once a year, on Reaping Day, one boy and one girl ages 12 to 18 are chosen from each district to participate in the Hunger Games. The sole survivor of each year's game wins food and supplies for their family and district. The book/movie begins in District 12, on Reaping Day, where we meet 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, whose skill at hunting, and her love of her younger sister are her two most important character traits.
So anyway, I was excited for this film too. After seeing it though, do you think fans of the book will like it?
Kik: They did such a good job! I loved it! Can we go see it again Friday?
Glenn: Whoa there, let's slow down and talk specifics. Do you think fans of the book will be happy with the movie?
Kik: Almost everything is the same with the book, and the small changes I did notice, I can understand why they were made. In the book, there's a whole other character with her own backstory who gives Katniss her mockingjay pin, but in the movie, Kat just finds it herself. It's just cleaner, and saves screen time.
Glenn: It makes sense that this is a pretty faithful retelling of the book. Both Harry Potter and Twilight have already seen success with the 'faithful translation' approach (unlike, say Michael Bay and his meddling with TNMT). Also, the book's author Suzanne Collins is co-producing the films.
I'd say if anything, the movie version's narrative is an improvement over the book's. The Hunger Games is written in the first person, and it quickly becomes obvious that Kat is moody and prone to second guessing. I feel the movie did a great job of moving the POV out of Kat's head, but still giving us a clear understanding of what she's thinking and feeling. The movie just makes passing references to several plot points in the book, but I think even someone whose never read the series would rarely if ever fell lost.
Kik: Yeah, I like how they had the announcer character (Caesar Flickman as played by Stanley Tucci) fill in a lot of the blanks in the form of TV commentary. It fit with the rest of the film, and kept the action moving. He really nailed that character too! The hair, the big cheesy grin... I love that actor!
Glenn: Me too! He's the only reason I don't buy up spare copies of "Burlesque" just to burn them. He was like a mutant hybrid of Ryan Seacrest, John Madden and an oompa loompa. But I digress, how about the rest of the cast?
Kik: I liked almost everyone. Lawrence was great as Katniss. She definitely looked the part. I liked her in X-Men First Class too, so it was good to see her again, since we still haven't gotten around to Winter's Bone. Elizabeth Banks was really good as Effie Trinket. I'm Team Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) all the way. The only one I thought didn't work was Gale's character. Liam Hemsworth is too much of a pretty boy for the role. I always pictured Gale a bit scruffier, more outdoorsey.
Glenn: I can see your criticism. The guy had perfect hair the whole time. But as for good performances, I definetly liked Katniss. Just subtle changes in her facial features helped convey whole paragraphs of internal dialogue in the book. I even liked Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Woody Harrelson as the jaded drunk advisor Haymitch Abernathy. Of course, I loved Harrelson in Kingpin, where he played a jaded, drunk advisor to an Amish bowler, so I knew the role was in his wheelhouse.
Kik: Yeah... Amish bowling and futuristic deathmatches, totally the same. Anyway, let's talk scenes! I loved the reaping!
Glenn: There were a lot of sniffles in the audience during that scene. It's where Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister's place in the games. One thing I really noticed in that scene was the camera work. The lighting is glaring and harsh, making the faded, shabby garments of the poor District 12 children look all the more out-of-synch with Effie Trinket's gaudy bright clothing. The camera wobbles a bit, and tends toward tight shots at eye level with the characters, as if the viewer is one of the participants in the reaping.
Kik: The shots from District 12 really helped set up the crazyness of the Capitol. Lots of pink dogs and dresses with frilly bits and bright colors. Loved that! But about the camerawork, I really liked the shots that got into the action. When there's that big explosion, the camera swoons with Kat as she tries to stand up again, and the audio matches the ringing in her ears.
Glenn: And then, of course, there's the shot where we take on Rue's POV. Lots of sniffles at that too. I've got to say, after that scene, when it cut to scenes of rebellion in District 11, it really made the connection crystal clear that what Katniss does in the arena can have repurcussions on the outside. It's a scene that's not in the book, but I think it was a good thing to add.
Kik: Another thing they added to the movie that wasn't in the books was all those scenes showing the gamemakers doing their work. The control room looked like NASA, as they controlled the game arena. It was interesting to see things from their point of view.
Special effects were all pretty good. I liked the fire in the arena. They'll have a lot more to do in the second movie... flesh melting fog, tidal waves, killer monkeys, lightning strikes.
Glenn: Well, Gale casting aside, was there anything you felt could have been better?
Kik: Yes, the last scene in the arena, with the berries. In the book, it seemed like it was a much more serious choice. But in the movie it seemed like much more of an obvious bluff.
Glenn: Agreed! That was the one time in the whole movie where I definitely felt the book was not done justice. Book Katniss is a lot more emotional during that scene, and her decision is not easily made. Movie Katniss just whips out her big plan immediately, without any visible deliberation, or anguish over the other possibilities. And you're right, it's all done too quick and easy that it breaks believability.
Kik: I still can't wait for the next movie though! Squee!
Glenn: A wonderful adaptation of a very good book. I would highly recommend both to just about anyone: Hunger Games has a strong female protagonist, interesting love triangle, harsh commentary on modern culture's love of reality TV and violence, and some of the best damned beards to ever grace cinema!
Kik: Squee! So good! Squee! See it! Squee!
Hunger Games Merch
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