Monday, August 20, 2012

Media Monday - Hunger Games

Well, I finally did it. 
Even though I missed the film version of Hunger Games when it was released...much to the chagrin of my oldest daughter...I finally watched it Saturday, the day it was released on DVD.

My first impressions were positive...and I'm not usually friendly to movies made from books.  It's been a while since I read the book, so I was almost able to go into the movie without pre-conceived notions (the details, my initial response to the book, etc were not fresh on my mind).  I didn't see the movie when it was first released bc I wasn't finished reading, and I didn't want to color my initial response to the movie or the rest of the series by interrupting the flow of my own brain and imagination...yeah, yeah, yeah, right.

I started watching the movie with a little trepidation later in the evening than I had originally planned...I even gave myself permission to watch part of it, press stop when I got sleepy and then finish it the next day, especially when I realized it was over 2 hours long.
That didn't happen...and by the time my eyelids got heavy, the "finale" was well into play and there was no way I was stopping there.

First, let me say this...Jennifer Lawrence is an AMAZING actor.

I secretly whispered a thanks to the Hollywood community for casting a little known actress in the role of Katniss.  If they'd cast a Miley Cyrus or Lindsey Lohan in this role, I probably wouldn't have watched it.  And, I'm not kidding here.  I'm exhausted with all the drama surrounding these little starlets, their bad behavior, their addictions, and their quest for stardom.  And, if Jennifer Lawrence becomes one of these doofus heads, I won't watch the rest of the movies either. So there.

There's plenty of action in this movie to keep action lovers entertained but still enough attention to the plot to keep the movie from become a giant kill fest.  Which, of course, the Hunger Games is.
But, I think that mix lets you truly care about these characters...their lives...what their world has become...and the true evil that is and will be The Capitol.

A few of the characters/actors that stood out to me were:

Donald Sutherland is a genius as President Snow.

A perfect fit for the silent, cool, plotting leader of The Capitol, playing both sides of field with ease...the president and the psychopath.
Can't wait to see more of him, especially in the Mockingjay installment.

The casting of Peeta and Gale were just fine with me...two more unknown actors (another good call I think) but I wasn't blown away by either of them.

Gale's character is underplayed in the movie version, and I never felt the connection between him and Katniss as I did while reading the book.  And, Peeta was much more likeable in this movie than in the book.  I actually disliked Peeta after reading Hunger Games.  He was so whiney :(  The Peetah of the movie was a little wiser than I thought he should have been...immediately taking to Haymitch's recommendations to play the crowd...even on first train over.  I more than sorta felt like Hollywood was setting us up to like Peeta better than Gale.  We'll see how that goes.

I was split on my feelings about the casting of the youngsters in this movie...Prim and Rue...the two characters who keep Katniss going.

Willow Shields is dynamic as Prim Everdeen...and plays the character with a ferocity that made me want to see much more of her.  I care about her already and can't wait to see what she has for us next.
The character of Rue, however, was so downplayed that Amandla Stenberg never really had a chance to touch our hearts.  I sobbed when Rue died in the book...just said "meh" and kept going when it happened in the movie.  I think this was a mistake on somebody's watch bc it's incredibly important to the whole Mockingjay connection that you get this part.  Future moviegoers may never see the intensity of this relationship, its meaning and the way it pulls Katniss through all the way to the end.

Never in a million years would I have cast Woody Harrelson as Haymitch...but boy oh boy, it works.

He's the perfect mixture of an unlikeable character (and person in my opinion) and plays the role fantastically.  When he first enters the picture, I sorta snarled a little and rolled my eyes.  It didn't take me long though to realize that somebody knew exactly what they were doing.  I can so see his up and down relationship with the games, the Capitol and alcohol as the story progresses.

Katniss's mother was also downplayed in the movie...lots of detail left out here, but I'm not sure how that will affect viewers in the long run.  The finale as well was incredibly vivid and violent in the book...not so in the movie...not sure about this either.

My review of the book was quite some time ago...and I purposely didn't re-read it before writing this review.

Let the Hunger Games begin...and "May the odds be evah in your favah"


  1. Glad you enjoyed the film! I really liked the first book but for some reason never read 2 or 3 - I must get around to that, then I'll let myself watch the film.

    1. I held off on the 2nd and 3rd for a while as well...lots of readers were disappointed but I liked them. I have to finish the written before I allow viewing as well, Sam. That's why I didn't see the movie when was released in theatres; I wasn't finished reading yet :p

  2. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the movie was. And I agree with you...glad they cast an unknown as the lead!

    1. I think it would have definitely been a terrible move to cast a starlet in this role. We needed to believe in Katniss without all the extra baggage of other characters from other movies to deal with. Really great pick I think :)

  3. I had some of the same reactions you did although I think you liked both the book and the movie better than I did. :-)

    1. I'm kinda weird about this trilogy...even though I liked the first one, the last one was my favorite. Lots of people hated it :/ Oh, well, right? Makes for much better conversation when we don't all agree :):)

  4. Aww I do have to admit I did shed a tear for Rue during the film. I thought it was OK overall but my socks were not rocked off. Woody Harelson is brilliant...not as good as he was in Zombieland but still awesome!

  5. I watched the movie for the second time yesterday and it's even better second time round. I wasn't sure how this movie was going to turn out. I usually have issues when a favourite novel is transferred to the big screen but I was pleasantly surprised by the Hunger Games. It's the casting that makes the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing as Katniss & i love Woody Harrelson's depiction of Haymitch. I totally agree that a well known actress wouldn't have worked as well. Plus those little starlets you mentioned just aren't as good actors.

  6. Loved reading your thoughts here. I'm currently in the middle of Mockingjay so it's been interesting reading the book while having the characters from the movie in mind. I agree that Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice and she does such a phenomenal job. I didn't cry when Rue died in the movie but Katniss's reaction and her tribute and the ensuing rioting was when I finally broke the flood gates.

    I thought that Harrelson did a great job in the movie but now that I'm getting to know him more and more in the books (read Catching Fire about two months after seeing the movie), I have a hard time picturing it again. We'll see.

    The only thing that bothered me was the cinematography. It was too jarring for me--I was constantly wanting the camera to pan back about 10 feet. Perhaps it was meant to feel uncomfortable.

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