Yes! After almost two weeks (or is it 3?) since it's release I've finally found time to properly put my thoughts into strong, understandable words. I guess I've been avoiding this one for a few, silly reasons. First off, I loved it so much, arguable too much. I have read the book and I was afraid that my initial fangirl giddy-ness would make the review suffer from,
1.) Over hype and
2.) Talking about the book and making this more of a comparison than a review.
Letting my fangirl urges cool seemed like the best remedy to this problem. Second, this is my first, real attempt at a movie review. You might think it silly that I'm being so serious about something. After all, I've written video game reviews and the like with no such stage fright. Well, here's the deal. I adore movies. If there is one thing that my parents raised me on, it is good cinema. I have been collecting a very strict movie pallet for a long time and it doesn't help that I watch more movie reviews on thatguywiththeglasses.com than any decent person should. This inevitably has put a great deal of pressure on me to create a review that is both insightful and original. I didn't want to just rant about what was bad for comic relief, nor did I want to sing the movie's praises beyond an unmatchable level. Long story short, I want to give myself somewhere to go with future reviews. With that said, I'm going to do my best in my analysis of The Hunger Games, I will be critical but fair (fingers crossed) and do my best to do more than shout the call of the fangirl squee. (Please note I will do a separate discussion of the book series at a later date!) Now let us begin. Welcome, welcome my fans, and HAPPY HUNGER GAMES!
Let's start this off blunt and right. This movie is an experience. You don't have to read the book to enjoy this film and you can have read the book and not leave angry at the adaptation. No, this manages to somehow fee like a movie (a problem a lot of book to movie adaptations struggle to overcome) while remaining faithful to the source material. The look is beautiful. Keep in mind, the beginning of the film has a rushed, somewhat sporadic style of editing but I feel that this only creates tension for when we finally get to the reaping where the shots are long and the camera is as eerily still as the actors. The cinematography matches the emotions of its scenes and I feel this is something that many movie creators fail at. The camera and editing are rushed when they need to be. You could argue that you have no idea what is going on in the more violent scenes because of this pacing, but you can tell this is done purposely. After all, in scenes with brutal carnage it is necessary to shake things up so that the PG-13 rating can be maintained and thus make this movie still accessible to it's target audience.
(Some spoilers from here on out....be wary!)
Now what is the plot you may be asking (all 3 and 1/2 of you!) and it's pretty simple to understand. Katniss Everdeen is a girl living in a post-apocolypic North America, now known as Panem. The country has now been divided into twelve districts all of which are lead by the Capitol. Years ago the districts tried to rebel and failed. As punishment, every year each district must offer up one young man and women between the ages of 12 - 18 to battle in the Hunger Games to the death. Only one winner comes out. This particular year in which the movie is set, Katniss volunteers in the place of her 12-year-old sister, Primrose. The movie proceeds to follow her adventure through this frightening experience.
Aside from the technical aspects of the movie, the story just flows so naturally. The pace is great and we somehow find time for all of the major events and character development that often makes book to movie adaptations flubby and unbearably blunt. This is how to adapt a book into a movie. You remain faithful to key events, have faithful adaptations of the characters, and offer your film version of the story. Book-to-movie's often forget that they are movies, meaning they are a largely VISUAL media. Movies need to show a lot of things that we get paragraphs and paragraphs about in the course of a few minutes (and in some cases even less) without bluntly throwing it in our faces. Take for example I was watch the movie Eragon the other day (yeah, I'm a sadist, I guess) and the movie suffered from one major flaw (aside from the shit script). The movie didn't feel like a movie. People were making long speeches out of nowhere, narration was in places where the audience could infer what was going on, and the movie overall made me feel like I was an idiot with how much information they were handing me. The Hunger Games is clever about it's presentation and that is so refreshing. The story is imaginative, the world feels real without being cartoon-ish, and you get close to the characters and our invested even if you can predict the outcome. This movie makes you care.
Lastly, I don't think movie could have been more perfectly casted! Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is so dead on that it will send chills up your spin. I could go on and on about each individual role so I'll just hint at some fun highlights. Stanley Tucci as the silver-tongued television host, Caesar, was one of my personal favorites because of his charm and wit. You could tell he had fun in his role. The same could be said about Elizabeth Banks as Effie Tinket. She was a doll (be it a doll I wanted to strangle).
Overall, if you love good movies, you'll appreciate this. If you love action, it's up your alley. And if you’re looking for a refreshing story of strife amongst a large evil, well, get your butt in the seat. This movie will force you to feel and we need more of that in an age of stiff, bland cinema.
What did you guys think of this movie? Did you love it? Hate it? Did you cry (I DID I DID!)? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time....