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Monday, April 16, 2012  

M. Ovie Reviews: The Hunger Games

Making a popular book into a movie is a no-win proposition. If you change it, you piss people off. If you don't change it enough, you piss other people off. I don't know why anyone bothers, when at the end all they're going to be left with is a bunch of pissed-off people and tens of millions of dollars.

In the case of The Hunger Games, I departed from my usual position of total ignorance of the source material. I'd read the book for the first time over New Year's, recently enough to remember most of it but long enough ago that there were some details that were less fresh in my mind, like whether Wes Bentley's Seneca is a new character invented for the movie. I should have either read the book earlier or waited longer to see the movie, because it wasn't that hard for me to pick a time when I could leave my seat to jettison my cherry Iceeā„¢. And The Hunger Games is a story that hangs on making you want to find out what happens next.

Paradoxically, though, after I finished reading The Hunger Games, I wasn't very interested in finishing the trilogy, and people who have say that's probably a good call. I didn't want to mess up my enjoyment of the first book. For that reason, I felt like I was taking a bit of a chance seeing the movie.

Which did mess some stuff up. It starts off appropriately gray and drab and impressionistically shaky-cam, giving it a late-B*G feel. Into this atmosphere, the entrance of Effie Trinket made up like a steampunk Elizabeth I is genuinely jarring. As District 12's emissary from the Capitol, much is made of her "Capitol accent," which American actor Elizabeth Banks interprets as British. But then they get to the Capitol and she's the only person who has one. Even Brit Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith sounds more American than she does. Furthermore, the book describes the Capitol as a hotbed of highly advanced foppery, but I guess making that many other cast members and extras look as over-the-top as Effie was just too hard.

I did like how the film opened things up. The entire book takes place from Katniss's point of view, so for any knowledge we have of what's happening outside the arena, we have to rely on her guesses (and, I presume, the later books, if I could be arsed to read them). As a result, the political situation she eventually emerges into comes as a shock, while we're a little more prepared. And, I might add, interested. The arena's command center, for instance, was like a cross between Minority Report and The Truman Show.

Don't even ask if I'm Team Peeta or Team Gale, either. Is there a Team Cinna? Because damn, Jennifer Lawrence and Lenny Kravitz looked ready to rip each other's clothes off every time they were in the same room together.

There was some stuff that I'm not going to quibble about the movie leaving out, like some of the more gruesome tracker jacker hallucinations, or the nature of the attack dogs at the end, or the whole Avox situation. Because the movie did something the book didn't: made me want to check out the next installment.


posted by M. Giant 7:28 PM 5 comments


I know they had to keep it "PG-13," but my main quibble was that it wasn't graphic enough. The whole idea is that these kids are subjected to a horrific situation (kill or be killed) for the entertainment of others (and the political reminder of who is in charge). To whitewash the violence and horror of it all made it seem like no big deal (movie not book). That Peeta and Katniss look fairly clean and healthy at the end of the Games just ticked me off, since they were barely hanging on in the book, esp Peeta.

Still not as bad an adaptation as Avatar: The Last Airbender.

By Blogger Bunny, at April 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM  

Ha - I read in Rolling Stone that Jennifer Lawrence insisted on calling Lenny Kravitz "Mr. Kravitz," because she's really good friends with Zoe Kravitz. Her home training dictates that you call your friends' parents Mr./Ms./Mrs. I thought that was adorable, and I got more of a protective parental vibe from him, not a lusty one. I mean, I lust after Lenny Kravitz, but I didn't think Jennifer Lawrence did.

By Anonymous K., at April 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM  

Who told you it was a good call not to bother with the rest of the trilogy? That's craziness! To me it just got better and better and appropriately darker.
Read them right away and then when the next movie comes out you will be far enough removed to enjoy it.
The movie wasn't perfect, but they never are...I thought it was pretty dang close in capturing the feel of the book without adding an all-consuming voiceover.

By Blogger SarahEmily, at April 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM  

The Hunger Games is the the first time I'm reading something popular since...I don't even remember. It's strange to actually know what my younger coworkers are talking about!
I love the style the books are written in and how Katniss is portrayed. I'm reading Mockingjay right now. You should check it out.

By Anonymous Bianca, at April 21, 2012 at 1:09 PM  

One of the best movie that I saw this year.

By Anonymous Charcoal Windowpane Suits, at May 8, 2012 at 10:50 PM  

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