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.
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.