While my entire Book & Magazine Publishing Program started a big countdown and debated what outfit would best depict their favourite character for the movie, I held back my expectations for The Hunger Games on the big screen. I didn’t watch any of the released clips after the first two trailers, I didn’t read any interviews or spoilers, and I didn’t even look at the released publicity photos. I’m not sure why I didn’t want my excitement to build up; I suppose after my experience with the Harry Potter movies, I thought that the on-screen depictions simply wouldn’t do the books justice. So why bother hyping it up? (Side note: I most definitely hyped up each and every Potter movie, knowing that it wouldn’t do justice to the book because I mean let’s face it, it’s Harry Potter). I’m not sure whether this approach to the movie particularly worked in my favour, all I know is I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Here’s what I thought of The Hunger Games movie.
I realize that many of you may not have seen it yet, so to not ruin any surprises I’ve ensured that I mark *Spoiler* and *Spoiler Over* so that you can read it without worrying 🙂
Overall I’d give the movie a solid 8/10. This is very generous considering I give most of the Harry Potter movies a healthy average of 6. I thought the casting was excellent, despite being very skeptical of the choices for both Peeta and Haymitch. I simply did not believe Woody Harrelson could pull of the character of Haymitch at all and Josh Hutcherson didn’t quite fit what I thought Peeta would look like. Woody Harrelson exceeded all expectations more than any other character in the movie did. I have a completely new outlook on his acting skills and would like to say “Bravo Woody, well done indeed!”. Even Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss a lot better than I thought she would. Essentially, all the character pictures posted above are the ones who really shone in my opinion. Cato was fantastic. He brought cruelty and a sort of pathetic humanity to his character which even the book doesn’t do great justice to. He took a “Crabbe and Goyle” type role and really made it work beautifully.
Characters I wasn’t so sure about were Cinna, Prim, and President Snow. I think Prim was passable after I saw her acting, but I’m still iffy on the other two. I know that for most people, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was the perfect pick but I guess that’s just not how I saw it in my head. The outfits that he designed were completely killer though! In fact, the entire Capitol was dressed and made up perfectly (see Effie photo above!!!). President Snow…meh. I imagined someone more imposing and a bit scarier. I think Christopher Plummer should have been given a go at this role, I think he might have done really well!
It must really help to have the author help write the screenplay, because the movie stayed true to the plot better than I thought it would, cutting out things so subtly that I didn’t even realize they were gone and making some very smart additions. *Spoiler* They intertwined scenes of the games with a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the game makers, conversations between Seneca and President Snow, and occasionally even showed the Districts. My favourite behind-the-scenes shots were the ones of Haymitch speaking with various sponsors and Seneca himself. In the book, we only see Katniss’ surmises of what Haymitch was thinking and how he was spinning the sponsors, but to see it with our own eyes was powerful. It showed the potential his character has to care for his tributes, especially Katniss. *Spoiler over*
I particularly enjoyed that the filmmakers decided to stay away from the Twilight-esque narrative of first person point of view, where Bella Swan’s voice interjects through the movie. Katniss was a hard character for me to like at times in the book because she can be quite angsty. This missing side to her actually made me enjoy Katniss more! Of course this also sacrificed a rather key point of the book, which was her internal struggle over how she really felt about Peeta. The movie did not do a great job of bringing out her suspicious nature towards him, her distrust, and her romantic struggles. When she kisses Peeta in the cave, those who haven’t read the book would think she did it because she wanted to and not because she wanted to shut him up and get a sponsor to send them something. Since this is such an important theme in the book, I wish they had done more justice to it. *Spoiler* At the end of the movie, when Peeta asks what they were going to do once they got back to District 12, Katniss replies that she just wants to forget it all. To which Peeta says, “I don’t want to forget”. That’s the only exchange we see between them and again, for the non-readers, it looks like they’re simply talking about the games. Really, it’s the subtle depiction that he has realized Katniss was spinning their love story for the crowds. This was quite a heartbreaking scene for me in the book and the movie just glossed it over. *Spoiler over*
Lastly, a part of the movie that I really didn’t appreciate–Peeta looking like an idiot through most of the movie. I’m sorry, I know there are people out there who will argue that Peeta was depicted perfectly as the burly baker’s son who can’t do anything and just hangs on to Katniss and paints things. I’m going to firmly disagree. I think Peeta is one of the strongest characters in the book series. Gale, Katniss, and Peeta are all strong in different ways and I suppose we can get down to that discussion when Catching Fire is released. Peeta is no less than any of them. *Spoiler* In the movie, when they’re approaching the Capitol, Peeta looks excited and overwhelmed in a sort of dog-with-its-tongue-out-and-tail-wagging sort of way. In reality, yes he’s overwhelmed but also disgusted. He just happens to know how to spin the crowd. I let that one go because Haymitch does make a comment that shows Peeta has already started working to build a likeable character. *Spoiler over* There just happened to be a few other instances where I thought to myself “Oh come on, Peeta is stronger than that!”. His mind is constantly moving and he’s the stable, analytical one that balances Katniss out rather than the one depending on Katniss for all kinds of survival. Josh Hutcherson did a good job with Peeta, but I’m going to need that quiet smouldering spark to show itself in Catching Fire before I’m completely on board.
That’s it for me. An overall success, but I’m glad I didn’t catch the midnight showing. It’s the perfect movie for those who want to see the book come to life. However, for those who haven’t read the books, the movie doesn’t answer the question as to why The Hunger Games became a worldwide craze. The extraordinary features are that of the character’s personal struggles and the overall significance of what certain actions in book 1 mean for the rest of the trilogy. To the people who haven’t read the books, it will just be another movie.
Would I go see it again? Absolutely, at least twice more. Do I want to re-read The Hunger Games for the third time in four months–Heck to the yes. Expect to see that thrown in somewhere soon in my 70 book pledge!
What did you guys think of the movie? Agree, disagree, other thoughts? I love talking about it so comment below!