Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games Review

A few weeks ago myself and two of my favorite people in the world took a road trip to Florida. We decided to drive straight across the country in one fell swoop, and to keep us engaged, we grabbed the audio book "The Hunger Games" for our trip. We had heard the hype and decided we wanted to check it out for ourselves.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book by Suzanne Collins. The concept and world were very interesting--a conglomeration of gladiators, class separation, and the contrasts of  high-tech/low-tech communities and the rumblings of rebelling against tyrants. Maybe it was because I listened to it as an audio book, but the first-person writing got a bit long at times. The main character, Katniss, was a bit cynical and skeptical (her life situations did lead to that) and she was also a bit over-dramatic at times. It was violent, but knowing this was a gladiator setting prepared me for that. Yet overall, it was a great story of pressing through and not letting the evil in power over steal and kill your identity.

So, this last Thursday, we three, my sister and husband, reunited again to go see the midnight showing of the Hunger Games movie.


I probably said "wow" at least 10 times throughout the movie, because I was genuinely blown away with the adaption to the film. Even the little additions they added felt perfect and their tweaks from the book, overall, made more sense to me than the original story! I truly appreciated how everything came together--the use of colors, costumes, the music (and lack thereof), the filming techniques (shaking camera vs steady) and all the little details and references to cultures were incredible.

I loved that they didn't stick with first person, yet they communicated the feel so well. They were concise and got through pages and pages of Katniss' thoughts in seconds on the screen, and yet after two hours, I still wanted more! If you enjoyed the book, I HIGHLY recommend you go see this movie. My only reservation is there are some genuinely scary and graphic scenes, because these kids are basically GLADIATORS, and all that that terrible situation implies, so I completely understand why this is rated PG-13. If you haven't read the book yet...I think you could go and still enjoy this movie, but it was much more meaningful for me personally, and for my sister and hubs, to know they story ahead of time.

***Now for the spoilers.***

In the opening scene, I noticed and loved how they broke through some normal editing boundaries that I haven't noticed before. For example, when Katniss leaves Prim, the audio at then end is her saying something like "I love you Prim" but the visual is her getting out of the house to go hunting. I value that they know we are smart enough to follow and that they saved a few precious seconds right there. Kudos production, editors, or whoever was responsible for that.

In fact overall I felt like the filmers knew the audience was smart. There was a lot of unnecessary things shorted, and that contributed hugely to moving the film along. Yet I never felt like they spent too little time on things...they knew I got it, and they didn't need to tell me everything. It wasn't in first person, and that was truly refreshing.

I liked how they changed the whole Mockingjay pin story. It made so much more sense to come from the Hob, Katniss giving it to Prim, and Prim giving it back. I even wonder why Collins didn't have it they way in the book.

They actually really played down the romance and potential love triangle with Gale and Peeta. In retrospect, you could walk away from this and possibly even miss the whole Gale side of the story, if you weren't aware already. I think this was ok, because they can bring that all up in the second movie, like they did in the second book. It also quenched everyone's fears of copycatting the Twilight Team Edward vs Team Jacob phenomenon, and I appreciated that. There were a few little details--even a little more eye contact with Katniss and Gale at the end? Something? That could have been nice, but it worked.

So...Rue's death. I was super bummed that Rue said, "Did you blow up the food?" Because she didn't know that....and it completely drew me out of the moment. Yes, I can rationalize that she heard it....but it was poor word choice and ruined the moment for me. It took until Katniss was gathering the flowers for it to connect...and that was excellently done.

Speaking of death, I felt like the violence scenes were well done. (This coming from the girl who watches 24, and has her husband cover her eyes during the bad torture scenes.) Basically, I've come to terms with being ok with violence in movies when its about survival and overcoming evil. I don't like swearing and immoral sexuality in films, but violence can actually be scriptural (ahem, old testament, my friends?) and this is exactly what early Christians dealt with--a gladiator situation. Yes, they didn't fight back, but this isn't a story about faith, it's about surviving trials to overcome tyranny. On the scary front--the tracker-jackers were FREAKY. If you have a young person who could be influenced to a terrorizing fear of bees, avoid that scene at least... yikes. I was squirming in my chair.

I LOVE SEEING THE CAPITOL DURING THE GAMES. Oh man. The control room was so cool, and I loved getting more of what was going on, seeing the Gamemaker talking to Snow, oh man, so good. Definitely added so much to the story for me. Definite win over the book in my mind.

Yeah, overall, I was stunned with how great it was, and it made me super excited for summer movies this year. SO GOOD.

How about you? Have you read the book? Are you going to see the movie? If you aren't into Hunger Games, what books or movies are you excited about lately/coming out soon?

P.S. Don't give anything away from the third book, please. I haven't gotten there yet!

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