Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games (PG-13)

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If you’ve neither read the book, The Hunger Games, nor seen the movie do not, I repeat, DO NOT read the book first. It totally ruined the movie. For me anyway. I’m not saying the movie was bad by any means but I would have enjoyed it so much more if I hadn’t known what they left out. As it was, it left me kind of disappointed. Oh! And the camera work really stunk in some parts. True story.

For those of you who have somehow managed not to hear anything about the book or movie let me try to explain. I get to use my favorite words to do so. Are you ready? In a post-apocalyptic (Oh! There they are!) North America, tributes – one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 – are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games in the Capitol. They are selected from each district in what is now known as Panem because years and years ago the districts defied the Capitol and tried to overthrow it. The Hunger Games are a yearly reminder of the revolution and a caution against ever attempting another again. The residents of the districts are forced to watch as the tributes “compete”. What decides who the victor is? The last child alive…wins.

After finishing the first book I was disgusted with the entire story. I spent hours reading about the deaths of these kids. The author was so good at spinning a tale, though, that I could not put the book down. I’m an insomniac anyway and this definitely did not help things. Why then, if I hated, loathed and despised the book so much did I want to see the movie? I was enthralled. I had to see how they would portray Katniss and Peeta. I had to see Rue. And I had to see if it could come anywhere close to what I conjured up in my imagination. In some aspects it did. In others, not so much.

The boy and girl we’re supposed to cheer for are Katniss and Peeta from District 12. Jennifer Lawrence was most definitely Katniss. I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. She was strong. She was defiant. She was smart. She was compassionate. I’m ready to see how she fares in the sequels. Her costume for the chariot ride was nearly spot on from the book. I thought there'd be more fire but what was there was pretty cool. When I first saw Josh Hutcherson as Peeta I thought the casting director(s) completely missed the mark. The further Katniss and Peeta got from District 12 the more I saw of my imagination Peeta.

I’ve loved Stanley Tucci for years. I want to be his BFF so he can entertain me all the time. What? I’d reciprocate. I’d cook him dinner every once in a while. Cuz that’s just the kind of gal (ooo I hate that word) I am. He’s not in the movie much at all but he still made an impression. I wonder if the memory of his book character helped that along. Stanley plays the part of the interviewer, Caesar Flickerman. According to the book he’s so good at what he does it helps bring out the best in the people he’s talking with. It’s not so obvious in the movie. But I liked him all the same.

Since not everyone decided to go to the midnight showing and ruin their ability to work through the day like a LOT of us did, I’ll try not to give too much away but I wanted to chat just a minute about some of the glaring differences between the book and the movie. Many little things were left out of the movie. The chariot scene was changed and I definitely preferred the written version. Cinna and his crew don't get the screen time I thought they deserved. Peeta doesn’t get all of the injuries in the movie that he does in the book. He does get some; I’m just not going to tell you which ones. No, I didn’t want Peeta to get hurt at all but stay true to the written word, man! And while some parts were left out, others were added. Not going into detail on those. Cato and Clove were both a lot smaller than I pictured them. Cato should have been more buff (not nekkid…muscular) and Clove should have been taller and, truth be told, prettier. I really don’t like that I typed that last part but she just wasn’t what I pictured. Where we got to learn about a lot of the different characters in the book they are just glimmed over in the movie. Every scene sort of speeds by leaving a little something missing.

I said I wasn’t going to give anything away but apparently I lied. So, here’s your warning. Skip to the next paragraph to avoid an outright movie detail. Remember the aircraft in the book that picked up the dead? Does NOT happen! So incredibly disappointed. And the Peacekeepers? Don’t even get me started. They looked like storm trooper rejects. Not much thought at all went in to their wardrobe. Oh! And the cornucopia? Wasn’t it gold in the book? That’s what I remember. And Thresh? He was robbed! And the Avoxes? Who are they?

What was my favorite and least favorite part of the movie? The Rue scene. this is the one scene in the movie in which things actually slowed down. They took the time to capture a poignant moment from the book. If you read the book you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, just wait. The talkers and the fidgeters shut up and sat still during that scene. One of the guys sitting next to me actually leaned forward in his seat (okay, and THEN he sat still). And he so did not look like someone this would affect. Not during a movie anyway. This little girl (Amandla Stenberg) who played Rue needs to be in something else so we can see if she can really act. Yes, I know that sounds harsh but we don’t get to see her very much in THG. I just looked her up on IMDB. I have seen her before. She plays the main character when she was a child in the movie Colombiana. As you might remember from that review I really liked her. So there.

As I need to be up for work in about 3 ½ hours I’m going to break it down now.

Sex/Nudity – Not at all. No partials, no teases, no implied. Nada.

Cussing – Yup. A little bit. Not the big ones, though.

Drinking/Drugs – Again, if you’ve read the book, you know the answer. One character in particular loves him some alcohol.

Violence – Well, yeah. You know there’s going to be. Even if you hadn’t read the book.

Intense scenes – Not as many as there should have been. There is one jump-out-at-you scene and I about fell off my chair when it happened. I’m sure the people around me felt the seats shake. I’m hoping they jumped too. I’m not going to tell you what happened but I am going to clue you in on when it will happen. Granted, this’ll probably make it worse for you because you’ll be expecting it. It’s after you see the peeps in control create an animal and when Peeta and Katniss are walking through the woods and she has lowered her bow. That’s all I’m saying about that.

I mentioned the camera work in the very first paragraph. The final scene at the cornucopia? I’ve watched lots of action movies so I know people can fight on film and the viewer still be able to clearly see the characters and what exactly is happening. Not so here. Or maybe it was just me. Boy, I hope not. I just read a few other reviews and they also commented on the poor camera work. Yea for me!

Now, to whom would I recommend this? Tough question. While talking to my mom on the phone before I left for the theater I found out that one of PT’s friends wasn’t going to see it. From the way mom talked both she and PT thought that was a pretty good idea. Why? The main reason being that she’s got a tender soul. She can’t stand to see any of God’s creatures hurt. Imagine what this movie would do to her. I love that there are still people like that in the world. I cry when I see animals hurt and I was very upset with the premise of The Hunger Games but I went anyway. Was I able to just blow off the deaths as not real? Nope. It bothered me. I was not very happy with myself, though, regarding my reaction to the bad kids dying. It just didn’t bug me as much. I wonder if the writer did that to keep the book from being completely disturbing. Who knows? The deaths at the beginning of the Games and a few of the others who died affected me strongly. I was almost glad the bad kids died because it meant the good kids wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore.

Despite all the grumbling above I thought it was an okay movie. It just didn’t live up to all the publicity. I would have been fine with a three hour movie if it meant we didn't have to be rushed through everything. There is blood and you do see the kids killing each other including one snapped neck. I had a LOT of trouble with that. Killing someone that close is just too personal. But that’s a topic for another day. You know what you and your children can handle. At least I hope you do regarding the latter anyway. So, whatever you decide to do, “may the odds be ever in your favor!”

P.S. The only reason to stick around during the credits is for the song. I really liked it. Nothing happens after. Drag.

P.P.S. Mom, dad and PT saw The Hunger Games this past Saturday. Dad hadn't read the book yet and, according to mom, was confused about some of the things that happened in the movie but were only explained in detail in the book. So, I guess watch/read The Hunger Games in whatever order you prefer. Not that I could stop you, whatever you choose.

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