Thursday, March 29, 2012
Okay, let’s be honest: all anyone still wants to talk about is The Hunger Games, especially now that most of us have seen the film. For those of you who haven’t…

Warning: SPOILER alert! Proceed with caution as this post is full of… um, spoilers.
Let’s get started.

Overall, we thought director Gary Ross did an excellent job staying true to Suzanne Collins’s character arcs as well as her vision of Panem. Big sigh of relief there. What was disappointing about the movie? Well, anytime an amazing novel is turned into a cinematic event, you’re going to lose scenes and details that you wish could be included. The Hunger Games is no different in this regard, though we thought the directors pretty much made the right choices in this arena (no pun intended).
Interestingly enough, it was the first half of the movie—the parts that took place before anyone stepped into the arena itself—that were the most moving, heart-wrenching, and devastating. Long before the “Games” actually began, I was an emotional wreck.

The ache in my chest started straight away as the cameras caught the poverty and oppression in District 12. As the producers cut back and forth between Seneca Crane/Caesar Flickerman discussing the games in sports-commentator fashion and the terrified children/families preparing for the reaping, I was unhinged by the cruelty of it all. The reaping scene itself was so well acted that viewers could have been right there in the square, holding their breath along with the other potential tributes. Katniss’s goodbyes, her journey to the capital, and her preparations for the Games (both physical and emotional) were all too real.
As for the casting…

Absolutely spot-on across the board. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci were both amazing in their respective roles as Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman. They couldn’t have been more on target (I swear, I’m not making up these puns on purpose).

Haymitch. Must admit, I was a little skeptical about Woody Harrelson being cast in this role (mostly because I still picture him as the sweet-faced boy from Cheers). Boy, was I wrong. He was fantastic as a slightly nicer (and less inebriated) version of mentor Haymitch Abernathy.
Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) both nailed their roles as Katniss’s potential love interests. And Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss? Brilliant. Flawless. Stunning. Insert adoring adjective of choice.  

Cinna. Lenny Kravitz was excellent in this role, and the scenes between Cinna and Katniss were authentic and emotionally charged. In fact, the scene just before Katniss must step in the elevator and go up to the arena was possibly the best (worst) moment of the entire movie, imo. Speaking of stylists, the costumes were just WOW. (Big props to costume designer Judianna Makovsky for that.)

We expected some differences between the book and the movie, of course. Here are a few noteworthy moments.
Additions that rocked:

1. Seneca Crane being locked in the room with a bowl of nightlock berries. Wow—not easy to make viewers feel sorry for THAT character, but somehow this move by the evil President Snow came pretty close.


2. Gale’s perspective while watching the Games. Loved this. It was subtle but so REAL and moving.


3. The uprising in District 11 after Rue’s death. Gave us all chills.
4. The way you could see the arena being manipulated in 3D by the Gamemakers. Creepy, sickening and thought-provoking.  
Notable deletions:
1. The mutts were just mutts. No resemblance to the fallen tributes at all (though they were some seriously scary beasts). 
2. Madge and the mayor. I can see why they cut these characters out, but I still missed them.
3. The avox girl Katniss met in the capitol (and the story of how she got there).
4. And of course, all the details and insights that are impossible to glean from a movie but that made the book so incredible and intense. Which begs the question: how does this movie hold up for viewers who didn’t read the books?
This could go on forever. Bottom line—we were impressed by the adaptation. But we’d love to hear what YOU think, so drop us a silver parachute and let your voice be heard.


10 comments:

Mari Adkins said...

watch it again. rue's and thresh's dogs had "collars" made of grass. also, the avoxes (avixen?) were there in the dining room at district 12's quarters - the scene with the recognition / conversation was cut (too, the recognized avox was in the credits, listed just as "avox").

what's cracking me up are all the kids (and some adults) who have come out of the theaters yelling they hope there's a movie of book two -- no clue how the movie industry works or that movie two will be out at thanksgiving next year.

Secretly_Samus said...

You forgot about Peeta's leg. (And so did I.)

Stephanie Mooney said...

I noticed the avoxes in the background a lot. I also loved how they kind of referenced them in the beginning when Katniss says the Capitol would cut their tongues out if they refused to watch the games.

I loved how even when they cut stuff, they kept the meaning behind it.

The movie was amazing. I wouldn't change a thing about it!

Emobley said...

I was disappointed by the movie. I didn't care for how it was shot. It generally didn't match with how I imagined it while reading the book. It didn't pull as many emotions from me, like the book did. The boys were also disappointed.

Kristan Hoffman said...

Okay, FINALLY saw it myself last night! Overall I enjoyed it, because as a fan of the books I thought it was amazing how well they captured the story and put it on screen.

HOWEVER. I went with my boyfriend, who had not read the books, and afterward he had several questions that I thought were very revealing, b/c they showed me how much my mind had filled in without my even noticing.

I'll probably blog more about my thoughts later, when I've fully digested. What I will say though is that I thought it was an entertaining movie, and a very satisfying adaptation, I'm just not sure it was fully successful in conveying Collins's message (at least not the same messages as the books).

@Mari-
Even having read your comment, I couldn't see the grass collars on the dogs. Those scenes were so dark! Ah well.

@Stephanie-
"I loved how even when they cut stuff, they kept the meaning behind it." - Agreed. They fully committed to the world, and that was incredible.

@Ingrid-
In rereading your 4 points for each side (additions and deletions) I think you've done an amazingly astute job capturing the strengths and weaknesses of the film.

Also, hehe, your puns cracked me up!

Ingrid said...

Mari- I did not notice the grass collars! Can't wait to see it again and look for those.

Samus- you mean how the medicine healed Peeta's leg almost perfectly? Yes, that WAS different from the book. And I didn't mind that change either.

Steph- Totally agree they did an amazing job overall! I also liked that the avoxes were there in the background, but people who didn't read the books wouldn't/couldn't make those same connections.

Emobley- The camerawork didn't bother me, but I've heard others complain that it was too shaky.

Thanks, Kristan. And YAY that you finally saw the movie! I'm really interested to hear your boyfriend's take on it as well, with him not having read the books.

sarahwedgbrow said...

Ingrid, you pretty much said everything. For me, the strengths were in the casting/acting, direction/editing, soundtrack. The shaky camera did not bother me and I understand why this technique was used (to tone down the violence).
Here's the thing, this movie would have elicited more emotion if it had gone to the level of violence that the book did. I also think the themes of the book would have hit harder if this were the case. But do I want to see that? Not really. I respect the filmmakers for what they had to do to get a PG-13 rating.
Having said all that, Hunger Games, for me, was the best adaptation of a book besides The Lord of the Rings.
p.s. I now have a crush on Jennifer Lawrence.

ashleecowles said...

I also thought the movie was an amazing adaptation of the book...pretty much the best adaptation it could possibly be. Despite the details that had to be cut, I felt the movie stayed true to Collins' overall message (she did help write the screenplay, after all). And Jennifer Lawrence WAS Katniss...she stole the show and portrayed Katniss as the embodiment of courage I envisioned in the books: http://ashleecowles.com/2012/04/02/courage-the-testing-point/

Mari Adkins said...

honestly i missed the collars until someone pointed them out to me. but yeah.

also, i was interested to learn that collins is also a screenwriter - which explains some of the problems i had with the actual book, but which translated to the screen so well.

Book Blogger Mom said...

I'm a new follower. I loved the books and liked the movie.

My blog - http://bookbloggermom.blogspot.com

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.


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