First of all, let me say that I’m very pleased and honored to be here. Well, actually I’m just very honored and pleased that you’re reading my review since you have about a million to choose from!
The night was fun, to say the very least. I arrived at the packed theatre (more packed than superhero movies, less packed than HP 7.2) saw at least two Katnisses (one with an actual compound bow- why did they let her in the movie theatre with a weapon?!), a President Snow, a Peeta, and a whole lot of people from the Capitol. The atmosphere was charged and giddy- titters and giggles swept through the crowd during previews. Everybody was anxious to see what they had done with their new favorite story.
And it didn’t disappoint.
I am convinced that this movie succeeded for a number of reasons:
1) It took itself seriously and wasn’t treated like a teen movie. The director (Gary Ross) is a respected director best known for the epic Seabiscuit. The music was not created to sell soundtracks. The cinematography was amazingly reminiscent of the reality tv it portrayed: hand-held cameras and odd angles gave us that reality tv voyeuristic peek. The action was believable and not over-the-top or supernatural. The violence is quick, blurred, and oftentimes over in a blink of an eye, which is necessary when teens are the both the murderers and the victims.
2) The author of the book, Suzanne Collins, was not only one of the three screen writers, she was also an executive producer. That means she had a stake in how successful the movie was and she had the means to pull it off. So I trusted the few small changes that were made- she knew what she was doing when she told the story the first time so I can trust her to tell it brilliantly once more.
3) There was very little CG. Sure, the tracker jackers were tiny, not the giant wasps from the book, but let’s be honest: giant, shiny, golden wasps might end up looking silly. Same goes for the muttations at the end: we never even saw their frightening eyes, and I’m glad! I don’t think they would translate well to film! The lack of CG added to the realism, making it a more relatable story.
4) The movie did what a movie based on a book is supposed to do: Give us a new perspective on the same story. I loved seeing the gamemaker’s room. Seneca Crane played a much bigger role than I thought he would and I appreciated it! I was enthralled with his conversations with President Snow- particularly the one concerning underdogs. Gale watching the games was perfect and heartbreaking. Actually seeing the Careers in action was terrifying. The Capitol was delightfully sadistic and unaware. I loved being able to see more of Panem rather than just being in the games with Katniss. That perspective was perfect for the books, but I’m glad the movie showed me more.
5) Last and certainly not least: The casting was amazing.
Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were spectacular. Jennifer’s understated style was true to Katniss and her eyes did so much of the talking for her. Her raw emotion from the reaping was appropriately contrasting to the guarded, forced emotions later in the film. You want a lesson on acting? Watch the difference between her and Josh Hutcherson in the cave. He is an open book, she is guarded and self-conscious. It’s the perfect squirmy dynamic.
I could list all of their names but I won’t. Let’s just say that the casting all-around was perfect and you have no need to fear because Cinna is still Cinna, no matter what he looks like. Nobody felt out of place and everybody executed their role in telling the story without fault. I wish sometimes that we’d been able to see a more drunken Haymitch or a more tactically helpful Cinna, but those small tweaks were not the fault of the actors and the movie couldn’t be four hours long!
Whether you’re a fan of the book or you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely suggest going to see the Hunger Games this weekend.
Happy Hunger Games!