Now anyone who knows me can tell you that I was ridiculously excited for this movie. I saw the trailer for it a few months ago and thought this looks pretty good. So I got the first book for Christmas and fell in love with the story and the characters. Then I read through the other two within the month. These became my favorite books. Now from seeing the film last night with a couple of friends, I have to say I was slightly disappointed with how the film turned out.
Now for those who haven’t seen the trailer or read the books, I’ll give a synopsis. The story takes place sometime in the future; North America has been divided into twelve districts, with the dictatorial Capitol ruling it. About seventy five years ago, there was a rebellion against the Capitol, waged by the now extinct district thirteen. So to show that the Capitol still has power and put fear in the hearts of the districts, each year a boy and girl between twelve and eighteen from each district is chosen by drawing to fight in the Hunger Games, which is a tournament battle to the death against the other children of the districts. Now here we meet Katniss Everdeen from district twelve. At the seventy forth Hunger Games, her little sister, Prim is chosen. Katniss doesn’t hesitate to volunteer and take her sister’s place. Through this journey she finds the horrors of the capitol, and possibly love.
To change it up a little I’ll do it in a pro/con prompt.
PRO: What I enjoyed.
· I have to give it the set designers for a great job. For a film that takes place mostly in the wilderness, I remember a lot of the locations in District Twelve. The Hob is exactly what I pictured it as.
· Costume design was great. The citizens of the Capitol look even more freakish than what I’d imagined.
· Casting was very well done. This is probably where director Gary Ross shined with the work in the film. Jennifer Lawrence made the perfect Katniss, being very emotionally detached from the fight she’ll eventually face, to her love for her sister. Josh Hutcherson did a fine job as Peeta. Putting on the charm for the audiences when need be. Now my two favorites in this were Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks as Haymitch and Effie. Even though their roles were very short, they were the most memorable for me. They were hysterical, Harrelson playing right on the edge of drunk and sober was great, and Banks very prim and proper about everything. Translating these characters to screen was probably the easiest thing since the author, Suzanne Collins wrote them so wonderfully.
PRO/CON: I needed to write this section because there were a few things I wasn’t sure if I liked or not.
· The camera work was very different than what I expected. For being this big blockbuster as it was being advertised, it was shot very oddly. The majority of the film was handheld shots. Now I can sort of see where the DP (Director of Photography, for those who don’t know) is coming from with this choice. I think the purpose of this was to give the film a more documentary type feel, so that this seemed to be all real and be on the same level with the character, running right behind them in the woods in the heat of the battle. It was very different from the norm with big films, so it was nice to see a director take a contrasting choice. Now my problem with this cinematography was when it came to the fight scenes. Since the cameras were most likely strapped to a cameraman’s back, it was very hard to focus on the fighting because the cameras are swinging around trying to get the shot. What I’m more referring to is the scene at the Cornucopia at the beginning of the fight.
· The music was okay in this, I’m not exactly sure what I expected coming into this. There were some small orchestral string parts, but the whole I believe was over toned with a Spanish guitar. Which I guess makes sense because it sounds very dark and earthy, taking place in the wilderness.
CON: Things I didn’t like, mostly will be about differences from the book. I apologize if I go on a few rants, but no promises.
· First off the mockingjay pin. The whole symbol of the series. In the film, Katniss finds it at the Hob after she sells some food to Greasy Sae. Now there is no explanation whatsoever about the origin of the mockingjay, or how it is a sign of rebellion against the Capitol, until there’s a slight notice of it by President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland towards the end of the film. I can understand why they didn’t have Madge in the film because they would’ve had to pay another actor, and it might’ve derailed the audience from the main story, but how hard would that have been to mention in a line.
· Seneca Crane. Now I’m not complaining about the performance done by Wes Bentley, I thought he did a fine job, there was just a bit too much of him in it. In the books, he’s lightly referenced as the Head Gamemaker, the person who’s in charge of making the Hunger Games as exciting and entertaining as possible, having maybe two parts noticing him there. In the film though, he probably has at least twenty minutes of screen time, which I think could’ve been made to better use.
· The muttations were a problem for me. In the book, Collins clearly states that they resemble werewolves, although running on all fours. All they made them into in the film was a pack of giant Rottweilers. That was just straight up lazy by the computer graphics department. The novel says that each mutt resembles one of the previous tributes that were killed, having the same eyes and color of hair. It scared the hell out of Katniss in the book; they took away the whole emotion out of that scene.
· Okay now the editing was my biggest problem for this film. It made what should have been a great movie a small summary of a great book. It was basically a bunch of main plot points. There was no meat in there, no developing relationships, like Rue for example. Once the Hunger Games start, you see her help Katniss get rid of the careers, you see them share some food, and then she gets killed. But Katniss is visibly upset, crying her eyes out and breaking down next to her limp body. There is no emotional context or continuity here. Yes you can see that she’s upset, but you have no fucking idea why. Same with prior events in the film. You see Katniss in the tribute parade, they look great, and then they jump to the next day for training, and then so on and so forth.
· Now I understand with films like this, you’re going to have to cut out some stuff for the sake of time. But they cut out one of the most important scenes in the book. After it’s been announced that Katniss and Peeta are the winners, Peeta’s leg is all but obliterated, they get lifted into a hovercraft, Katniss wakes up connected to tubes, finds Peeta getting his leg chopped off, and isn’t sure if he’s alive or dead. This is the all important breaking point for her and she just shuts down. THEY COMPLETELY LEFT THIS SCENE OUT. This is Katniss showing how much she cares for Peeta. One of the clues that lets you know how this is going to play out and they just cut it out. I’m sorry but that was not okay.
Now if you want the full emotional story, I’d suggest you buy the book. Yes, it may be a little more expensive than a ticket to the movie, but you’ll have a fuller and richer understanding of what happens in this world. Giving it a 3 out of 5.