Hunger Games Movie Review (no spoilers)
I lived in fear that the movie would not live up to my planet-sized expectations, and thankfully that fear was not realized. The cinematography was gorgeous and chilling. The actors delivered fantastic performances (special blown kisses to Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Bravo sir!). The movie was both less violent than the books and more brutal. With Suzanne Collins heavily involved (screenwriter, executive producer) the movie fully reflected her theme about the brutality of war and the oppression of her invented future world of Panem. Early in the film, I was almost feeling guilty for my excitement to see it, because the intensity of the oppression was so finely rendered.
(Note: I have no doubts that Suzanne was chuckling into her tea as we lined up in droves, dressing up like fine Capitol citizens to watch the Hunger Games. Her point was delivered with a razor sharp stab of irony.)
The movie was perfect in every definable way: casting that delivered, costumes that recreated Collins’ world, music that seamlessly enhanced the experience. My only quibble was that it didn’t quite deliver the emotional experience of the book. In reading Hunger Games, I felt intensely the character’s drama throughout the book, but specifically at several turning points. That was part of the book’s brilliance! And the movie achieved this emotional resonance spectacularly in the scene with Rue – which I think all fans and Collins herself were acutely aware that they needed to do in order for the movie to succeed. Which is why I think there was about 10 minutes of film devoted to that one scene! And it was brilliant. If they had similarly spent the same amount of time on the other turning points of the film, I think it would be an unqualified success. Even at almost 2.5 hours, the movie still felt rushed. I hope that they will make Catching Fire a three-hour film, if that’s what it takes to deliver the emotional impact points.
Of course, that didn’t stop me from going to see it again on Sunday. 🙂
The second time around, the movie was even better, partly because the crowd was calmer (and quieter) with the mania of the opening weekend mostly past. I actually enjoyed the movie more the second time – I think the more subtle emotional points came out when the theatre was quieter, allowing me to be absorbed more in the film. So, for those of you who are trying to avoid the crowds – good call!
I highly recommend the film. It’s sober, brilliant, and will stoke the fascinating moral discussions that makes this book so worth sharing with the young (13+) teens in your life.
p.s. I’m Team Peeta, just in case you were wondering. 🙂