"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -- Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Movies: The Hunger Games

(This post has been edited to add new thoughts after a second viewing. Scroll to the bottom of the post for new stuff.) I was one of the millions who went to see The Hunger Games on Friday. I am one of the millions who adore the books and was hoping that the movie would at least be a faithful adaptation of the book. From all that I had read early on in the process of the movie being made, I had high expectations that it was going to be OK. It looked to be well cast (although Woody Harrelson made me really nervous because I am not a huge fan of his), the locations used for District 12 were awesome (I spent my college years in that part of North Carolina and knew that it was perfect), and from the things said by director Gary Ross it sounded like he "got" the story. And then the buzz started about a month ago when the advance tickets started selling. Then it continued to swell because the ticket sales were going through the roof. The March 12 premiere was crazy and the critics seemed to like the movie a lot. I started to lower my expectations out of fear of disappointment. I wasn't very successful. By the time I got to the theater on Friday afternoon I was beside myself with excitement.

I've had the weekend to think about the movie so here's my review. Generally, I liked the movie a lot. I think I want to go see it again in the theater. It's 2 hours, 22 minutes long, but it didn't feel that long to me (or my butt). It is violent, but well done. That said, parents of kids younger than the PG-13 rating should seriously consider whether or not to take those kids to see it. It is one thing for their young minds to try to imagine that violence. It is quite another for them to see how adults enacted it. I give it a solid 4 stars out of 5 - for faithfulness to the original story, a good cast and acting, excellent visuals.

Consider this a ***SPOILER WARNING. What follows will discuss plot points from the book and movie.***

I'll start with what I didn't love:

1. Some of the camera work was too choppy for my older eyes. I found that the first 20 minutes or so were hard for me to watch, especially with my bifocals. That said, what I liked is that by using that technique they were able to convey a lot of information in a very short amount of film. So I liked it on that level, but it caused eye strain. I was grateful that it was short.

2. I wished the scene with Peeta and the bread had been fleshed out more, including the whole thing about his mother.

3. I wished Haymitch would have been a little drunker, dirtier. Sounds weird, but he was cruder in the book. That said, I think that Woody Harrelson was excellent in that role. He far exceeded by overall expectations.

3. I wished there was more Effie, more of the stylists with Cinna, and the Avox. About the Avox, I read why Gary Ross did what he did. I wish he hadn't. I think she could have been part of it easily. The stylists were such a huge part of Katniss' time in the Capitol before the Games that I really missed them in the movie. I wanted to see them, hear them, their interaction with Katniss as they grew to love her.

4. There was not enough of Katniss'/Peeta's time in the cave. I feel that this was one thing seriously lacking, although I understand that to keep the movie to the length of a movie and not a mini-series, it needed a lot of paring. I did expect more of this, though, since it is the genesis of Katniss' conflict Peeta in the later story (Catching Fire and Mockingjay).

5. Can I admit that the first flaming outfits kind of disappointed me? I expected something a bit bigger and more spectacular. My memory of the book description was that the flames were larger. The red flaming dress was cool, though.

Now to what I loved:

1. District 12 was exactly how I pictured it when I read the book. The Capitol was a little too CGI, but still a good portrayal. I loved how the Capitol population were so over the top visually - exactly as written.

2. The overall casting was nearly perfect. I was also nervous about Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, but he was actually very good. I heart Stanley Tucci, who was perfect as Caesar Flickerman.

3. I liked the use of silence. Where a lot of action and drama movies use music to build tension, this movie uses silence to good effect. I was also glad that Gary Ross opted not to use voice-overs to fill in Katniss' thoughts.

4. I liked that it didn't focus on the romance. I never felt that the books were about the Team Gale/Team Peeta conflict. Katniss' main conflict was always about survival, providing for her family, and the revolt against the Capitol. The romance was always secondary and unimportant. My hope for the sequel movies is that they continue to keep this in the background.

Additional Thoughts (Added 3/28) ***Seriously Spoilerish***

1. The dude playing Cato was very good. His last scene was very well acted. Really, everyone was good. But I was struck with the second viewing just how good Cato was in that one scene.

2. Something I missed the first time: Peeta tapping the hand on his cheek. The first time I was watching Cato. The second time I made sure to watch Peeta because I realized later that I had missed some interaction between Peeta and Katniss in that moment.

3. I love the little details that are in the movie that only the readers of the books would know to look for. And you have to have read all three books to catch the significance of them. First, President Snow and the roses. Second, before the gamemakers send the fire down, they note that Katniss is skirting the outer range of the arena. That isn't in the first book, but it foreshadows the next movie.

4. The movie is way more faithful to the book than I remembered. I'm reading it again and I'm pleasantly surprised to see that most of it is in there. The tough part for the filmmakers was getting into Katniss' head space, especially since the book is told in first person. I am more convinced that they did a good job of showing it than I initially thought with the first viewing.

5. I'm also more excited to see Catching Fire next fall when it comes out. They did a good job of setting up the next part of the story.


Amy Bennett said...

Agree with nearly all of that!

Jen said...

Funny, re-reading that makes it sound like I didn't like the movie. But I really did like it a lot and I do want to see it again.

Julie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had problems watching the first 20 minutes of the movie. The scenes leading up to the Reaping were making me motion sick. Yeah, I'm a wimp :)