So last night I was, of course, scheduled to attend the midnight showing of The Hunger Games, because who can wait. On my way to the theater I stopped at a Mobil station to pick up cheap drinks and snacks for everyone. While there I ran into the super hot (and super popular in high school) brother of a guy, who we’ll call Brian, that I dated for a hot second last year.
You see, last year I went through a break-up that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever worked through (because my life is just that sheltered). Heartbroken and potentially mildly PTSD after a year and a half of pseudo-emotional abuse, I jumped into the arms of the first nice and vaguely attractive guy that wanted to be my boyfriend. For the first time in my life I stuck with something I knew didn’t fit because it made me feel better about myself. The result? I ended up with nice-guy Brian, the pseudo-stalker sending me a zillion texts a day and anonymous flowers. I pulled my usual I-suck-at-break-ups-so-I’m-just-gonna-ignore-you-til-you-get-the-hint thing, and of course I came out the dick in the whole situation. Per usual.
Well, there I was, first time I see this super-hot brother since then, and my hair is a mess (I took a pre-movie nap because I’m old like that), I’ve gained a few pounds, and the only makeup on my face is whatever crust is left over from the last few days of me not removing it. Oh, and I’m holding a shit-ton of candy.
My life is awesome since I bailed on your bro. I eat my emotions daily and rarely shower. How’re you?
This conversation ensued:
Me: Oh, hey. How’s it goin?
Hot Brother: Um, good . . . you? *eyes all my candy*
Me: Oh this? This isn’t all for me.
Hot Brother: No, no. . . of course. *looks away disbelieving*
Me: No, really. I’m heading to meet my friends. We’re seeing the midnight showing of The Hunger Games.
Hot Brother: Oh right, right. My kid cousin is going to that tonight… with his mom.
Me: Fuck you it’s goddamned awesome! You wish you were this cool and secure and stuff. (In my head) Right. Have a goodnight. (out loud)
*Speed walk to car as fast as possible without breaking into a run. Drop ginormous bag of skittles on the way. Consider picking up. Keep going.*
Review of The Hunger Games: (Disclaimer: I’ve never reviewed a movie, but have always wanted to, so this is mostly for me and for fun. It probably sucks and so please skip it. Or don’t and tell me what you think!)
Overall this movie was sort of torn between being fucking awesome, and a let down. I think, looking back, it comes down to the struggle of being faithful to the book and its spirit, while also needing to keep non-readers informed. The result was that the movie became alternatively awesome or clunky.
I’ll start with the specific downsides. I have maintained since the beginning, and after seeing the movie still maintain, that Josh Hutcherson was poorly cast. He’s a good actor, but the look of Peeta and the chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence just aren’t there. Director Gary Ross used grainy, shaky-cam, and stylized shots far too often, which ended up distracting from the drama and gravitas of what was happening in the scene. On top of this, despite being 2.5 hours, the movie felt rushed and fast. I would have forgone some of those stylized filming moments for some time to be able to savour the look of the Capitol more. I wanted a shot showing food coming at the press of a button, or the elaborate showers that Collins describes in her books. I even wished there was a little more graphic fighting shown, but Ross somehow sheltered our eyes from most of it. My greatest complaint is that Ross’ handling sometimes undermined the incredible fighting spirit that courses through The Hunger Games novels.
Now to the good stuff. Despite what I said above, Josh Hutcherson is a good actor (one of the better ones in the movie) and wins you over as Peeta to some extent. He plays the role of the charismatic tribute well, and his eyes exude that sweet but determined man inside of Peeta (even if his body doesn’t quite fit the hulk we all envisioned). The movie has a proper score and uses it well. Never overbearing, which is a personal pet peeve of mine. Unlike the Twilight films the media seems bent on comparing The Hunger Games to, this is actually a good movie with incredible source material. It is punctured with scenes so heart-wrenching you immediately forgive any other shortcomings in action sequences. To his credit, Ross never lets you forget that these are children, and sacrificial ones at that. Even Cato has a humanizing moment.
The movie is excruciatingly loyal to the source material – I’m sure it helps when one of the screenplay writers was also the author. All of your favorite moments from the book will be there, and generally any subplots or third-tier characters that have been erased are quickly forgotten and well replaced. I did wonder how the writers were going to help newcomers understand the vast history and vocabulary of this universe, and on this point they did a fabulous job. They make clever use of the idea that the games are a “reality show” to aid non-readers along while at the same time adding an extra-twisted feel to the movie. Finally, all of Suzanne Collins‘ biting social commentary is upheld (if a little watered down), and Katniss is still a survivor, less interested in hormones and boys’ crushes and more interested in getting back to providing for her family. Also, Elizabeth Banks is fucking awesome as Effie, and Sutherland, Tucci, Kravitz, Bentley, and Harrelson are all pretty fabulous as well.
I think this was a great set-up for a more biting second movie (where the new watchers won’t need constant hand-holding). There is always the annoyance that a movie can never recreate the colorful shininess of the outer reaches of a reader’s imagination, and when it came to The Hunger Games and the Capitol, no earthly colors would have totally satisfied my imagination.
Did anyone else see it? Thoughts?