Apr 1, 2012

Movie Review - The Hunger Games

I thought of writing this review immediately after seeing the movie at 12:01 AM on Thursday, March 23rd. However I realized that I needed to see it again because that night I, like many others, was caught up in the hype and excitement that was the anticipation of The Hunger Games.  So here's my review only mere minutes after getting out of the theater for a second viewing.

I still maintain that director Gary Ross is primarily responsible for the failings of this movie.  While after discussing the film with a fellow enthusiast, I came to appreciate the shaky, choppy camera footage at the beginning of the film as a snapshot of how Katniss functions on a daily basis in the dreary, oppression that is "starving in safety" inside District 12.  The footage does slow down once she escapes to the woods, which readers of the novels will remember was the place she felt safe to be herself and drop the mask she wears while in the district.  However the pre-Reaping setup and superfluous crowd shots were totally unnecessary and a waste of screentime that would've been better spent on character development.

The footage of Katniss & Gale in the woods is great.  However, like some critics have stated, the emotional connection is lacking throughout most of the film due to the sparse character development.  Rue's death or when Katniss is burned may be one of the first scenes where the audience feels anything.  A great opportunity to have the audience really understand Katniss & Gale's connection was lost in that woods scene.  A couple of extra lines of dialogue is all it would have taken.  Perhaps we'll discover the scene was longer when the DVD comes out.

Overall the movie is still good.  Love the behind the scenes look into the Control Room, Games commentary, and President Snow's prodding of Seneca Crane.  Others have commented that they cut a lot of things from the book.  I for one was overjoyed that they cut Peeta losing his leg.  Other things they cut from the movie for two major reasons.  First, they wanted a PG-13 rating.  I'm pretty certain if they had kept just Cato's death scene true to the book they would've gotten an R rating.  Secondly, who would've wanted to sit through a three hour plus movie.  I love the books beyond words but had they included all of the District 12 characters, drawn out the Games to the approximately three weeks they were in the book, and included the hospital scene at the end, this would have been a really long movie.

Some of the things that were slightly disappointing because they were cut or not done well, but can be forgiven for the greater good of the movie:

  1. the origin of the mockingjay pin
  2. the indirect mention of tesserae (getting more food by adding your name to the Tribute drawing)
  3. the cheesy flames on their backs for the presentation of the Tributes
  4. the change of location for what was a rooftop scene to a huge window in the penthouse
  5. the Cornucopia was not golden
  6. the exclusion of Katniss suffering from dehydration
  7. the exclusion of the sleep syrup
  8. the afore-mentioned shortening of the Games
  9. a lot of close-ups that narrow your ability to read something into the characters' actions
  10. not a cut but a missed opportunity to play up the Katniss & Gale relationship by having a secret scene of the kiss as written in Catching Fire
One thing that can't be forgiven because it displaces the pyschological scars that needed to exist to justify the genuineness of a continued relationship between Katniss and Peeta is the muttations at the end of the Games.  In the movie they are nothing but big dogs.  I was really expecting to see something resembling a werewolf, with the human eyes and hair colors of the fallen tributes.  At the very least they could've placed the collars on them denoting they were retribution for the fallen tributes.  These two 16 year-olds needed to be so scarred from their time in the Games that they suffer from nightmares and develop a true (not made for TV) friendship based on their shared PTSD.  At the end they just seem to whole and undamaged.

In closing, I've also read personal comments from individuals criticizing that the movies feature young people killing each other.  To these individuals I say the following: "Do you live under a rock in Timbuktu or did you make the conscious choice to remain ignorant of the content and plot of the movie by avoiding all television and internet promotions until after you saw the movie?   If in fact you do not live under a rock in Timbuktu, how dare you act all sanctimonious about the movie that you obviously went to view and clearly states in the Treaty of Treason at the beginning that 12 to 18 year-olds are required to fight to the death."

That is all.  May the odds be ever in your favor...until The 75th Hunger Games circa November 2013!

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