Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy with the Hunger Games

Planning on going to the movies this weekend?  Perhaps you haven't seen "The Hunger Games" yet or maybe you enjoyed it so much you're planing on seeing it again.  Read on for our review but be warned, SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

For those living underground who may not have heard much about "The Hunger Games," the film is based of the best-selling series of the same name by Suzanne Collins.  It's set in a dystopian future where teenagers living under a totalitarian regime are selected by their government to participate in "The Hunger Games," a televised battle to death.  This battle is designed as a penance to the citizens for a decades old rebellion against the government.

Once again, anyone not looking to read SPOILERS, click away now.  You've been warned.  Now, on with the reviews, "Happy Hunger Games."

Albert: "I think the costumes and lighting were amazing. The audience could really see the huge disparities between the districts and The Capitol. I think if someone did not read the book he or she would be confused by parts of the movie."

Stanley Tucci, as Cesar Flickerman
Eileen:  "I set my expectations for this movie much lower than they should have been. In spite of time limits they managed to get much more of the story in than i expected. The casting was great. My favorites were Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman)and Amandla Stenburg (Rue). Exactly how I pictured them when reading the books. My biggest surprise came from Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), I did not expect much from him as I am used to him being the bratty teen-aged kid without much depth. But he really picked up Peeta's emotions from the book and completely convinced me that he was indeed Peeta Mellark. I could go on forever about aspects of this movie but I wont. Costumes and music get a 9 out of 10 in my book. photography was a disappointing 7 out of 10. Overall the movie was much more than i expected, however, if you want to get the most out of it, go read the books :) "

Jess B.  "Honestly, I loved it. I was so afraid when I heard they were turning it into a movie that they would destroy it like everything else they touch. But I was quite satisfied. I cried through the entire movie and nearly took my boyfriends hand off when I knew what was coming next and he who never read the book had no idea. There are a few things I wish they had kept in the movie like Octavia, Venia, and Flavius. But other then that 95 out of 100 :D"

Rachel: " I thought the movie was the best book adaptation I've seen. Yes, even better than Harry potter. I thought the movie captured the tone of the book so well and I loved the subtleties, like when the tail of Prim's shirt was hanging out during the reaping. Even though they changed some things, I felt that the authenticity of the book was preserved. I can't wait to go see it again."

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Rebecca:" For me they completely nailed the tone of the books in the movie. Are there things I wish they had included? There always are, but overall this movie was a fantastic adaptation. I love the fact that Collins was so involved and I think it really showed in the integrity of the film. I too loved the little details - even really small things like showing Peeta breaking every twig as they walk through the woods. Every casting choice that I was hesitant on before melted away. Each part was played amazingly well. I especially loved seeing into the gamemaker's room and the scenes with President Snow. It added a nice depth to the world that we don't really see in the books since everything is from Katniss' perspective. I was so excited to go to the midnight release and I loved it so much that I'm planning on seeing it again today!"

As for me, I was really impressed.  I agree with Rachel that this was the BEST adaptation of a novel into a film that I have ever seen.  I think the fact that the author, Suzanne Collins, also worked on the screenplay was what kept the film so true to the source material.  

Banks (l) as Trinket and Lawrence (r) as Katniss
I also agree with Eileen that the casting was perfection.  I didn't read the novels until a few months before the movie was released but all while reading, I could picture Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss.  Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work in "Winter's Bone," had Katniss' tenacity down pat.   Also, Elizabeth Banks, best known as the beautiful girlfriend to JD on "Scrubs," or Jack on "30 Rock," was unrecognizably wonderful as Effie Trinket. 

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch
I also could not have selected a better actor to portray Haymitch than Woody Harrelson.  I loved that this film included some scenes not depicted in the novel.  I've read some criticism that Harrelson's Haymitch wasn't "drunk" enough.  When I read the novels, it's clear that Haymitch is a drunk but when necessary he could pull himself together to accomplish the task at hand and to me this was made quite clear in the film during the scenes where he manipulates Seneca Crane and helps Katniss get items necessary for her survival.  It was also clearly early on in the film that he really likes to drink.  I also have to note, I found him to be much more attractive than I pictured when reading the books. Harrelson also added a little snark and swagger to Haymitch that I loved.  I seriously wanted to drink some scotch with him.

I found the cinematography and artistic direction incredible.  I loved the stark contrast between the bleakness of the districts and the outward beauty of The Capitol.  At times during the scenes of The Games, it seemed the camera was shaky or they used a handheld.  To me that just added to the gritty realness of this film.  It was as if you were watching this unfold before you on some horrific TV reality show or documentary which is exactly what the citizens in the districts were forced to watch !  I also loved the subtle commentary both the books and the film make of reality television.  What is entertainment for some may actually be exploitative.   

The costumes, as Albert noted were amazing especially those worn by the citizens of The Capitol.  Beautiful outsides but not beautiful insides.  Albert also mentioned that people who hadn't read the book may be slightly confused by some parts of the film.  I went to see the movie with my mom who hadn't read the books and knew very little about the concept.  After the film she had a just a few questions about how much control The Capitol had over its citizens but she told me it was the best movie she had seen in a long time and she really wants to read the books.  My mom is not a reader so for her to want to read something, she must've really enjoyed it.

So, it seems like we all agree that "The Hunger Games," certainly lived up to its hype.  It's an excellent film that does the novel justice.  However, if you haven't read the books, please do, it will certainly add to your appreciation.  

Finally here is one more "review," that I would make Cesar Flickerman chuckle, Alan said "I didn't read it, and haven't seen it, but I do enjoy games, and am frequently hungry, so it must be pretty good."
I'm seeing this movie again this weekend and I can't wait. This movie is well worth the $10.50 or more that your local theater may be charging.  

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