Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hmmmger Games


Couldn't have said it better myself

Well, kids. I finally saw it. I bit the bullet. I took a chance. And all I have to say is...

"Well...That happened."

For my fellow book-readers, I hope you will understand when I say that I didn't NOT like the movie, but it left so much to be desired as compared to the book that the experience was kind of lackluster. Alas, even two and a half hours was not quite long enough to get the incredible amount of information onto the screen.

For those of you who don't know the plot (is that possible at this point in the media frenzy?), The Hunger Games is a competition held by the futuristic dystopian nation of Panem (used to be the US, fyi) to keep all 12 of their assorted districts in line after a horrible uprising almost a century beforehand. Each district has to send a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death in a competition that will result in the victor's district getting special treatment for a year.

So at the center of our plot, we have Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 (the coal-mining district. not that that is incredibly relevent.) who has fought for the past few years to keep her family from starving after her father died in a mine explosion. On the day of The Reaping, her beloved little sister gets called up to be placed in the Hunger Games and, in order to spare her, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Also called is Peeta Mellark(y), who ends up trying to save her throughout the games, either because he has his own agenda or because he is in love with Katniss (you don't figure it out til the end).

So! Let's get to what is good about this movie first:

Excellent costumes. They really take the bizarre Lady Gaga fashions of Panem and bring them to life. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) especially has some truly astounding fashion choices and the scenes at The Capital are brilliant.

Who knew Lady Gaga could see this far into the fashion future? Cray.

Also they really seemed to realize the commentary on spectating that the book suggests. That humans can become extremely base when anything is done for pure sport or spectacle, and that when things become entertainment, reality gets extremely blurry. Especially for the people living in The Capital; you can tell that their lowest priority is the welfare of these children and that to them it is all a game.

All in all, it was more or less an accurate visual of what I had already imagined in my head, which was a huge plus.

I mean there's really no better person they could have chosen for Caesar

Alright...gettin down to brass tacks...

I was not all that impressed with the over-dramatization of the characters. Just because you make something shorter does not mean that you have to up the emotional integrity of each character. I felt like the actors took their characters from the book and turned the volume up to 11 (Spinal Tap? Anyone?). Peeta was turned from a sensitive guy into a needy over-the-top baby, Cinna went from Yoda-figure to hip gay buddy (and Lenny Kravitz? What? Really? Why? Awful.), and Hamitch went from a complex gruff and standoffish character with a heart to over-invested sober person (NOT sober for very long at all in the book, just for the record).

Putting on gold eyeliner doesn't make you Cinna. It just makes you Lenny Kravitz wearing gold eyeliner.

Another issue that I had was the lack of violence. Let me justify that statement: the book makes all of the deaths somewhat vivid to bring attention to how incredibly backwards it is to have children fight to their own imminent deaths. The spear that hits Rue, in the film, doesn't even go completely through her. Doesn't that go against science? Likewise, all of the deaths at the Cornucopia were made blurry by fast camera-shaking and such so that you barely even saw any of the kids actually getting killed. That kind of PG-13 violence doesn't really drive home the effed up factor that the books do.

I don't know, maybe part of my problem is just that it's NOT the book. And the book was so much better. Books can take their time explaining things to you because things take a while to happen in real time. Even in most chapters you don't have the magnitude of cuts and scenes that you have in a movie. And even when the cuts and such match the structure of the book, things like music, camera shots, and all kinds of other factors end up taking the story from real to overdramatic almost every time. Another issue is that movies can't really pull off inner monologue without being cheesy, which is a shame because inner monologue makes up about half of Katniss's character.

So. In conclusion. The Hunger Games movie: not bad. But I wouldn't go to it expecting to be impressed if you got reeeaally into the books.

6 outa 10.

Also the Hollywood monkeys disabled embedding for all of the Hunger Games trailers so I'm gonna go ahead and let you seek it out for yourself (as if you haven't seen it already).


  1. Great review! I absolutely agree with you and I'm glad you mentioned the scene at the Cornucopia and the lack of violent detail. Reading the book, I was terrified at that point but the film failed to capture that terror!

  2. Did you end up seeing the second one, Pete?