When I found out that I would be at the premiere of The Hunger Games I knew I would be bringing you all my review. My worst fear was that it would end up being a horrible film – despite all the evidence of the contrary – and I would have to break that news to you. Thankfully, that is not the case.
After the actual release I will post a much more in-depth review that talks more about the changes, what I thought about lots of specific things, descriptions of scenes, and more spoilers. For now, though, I just want to give you my overall thoughts on the movie as a whole and answer a few pressing questions I’m sure you have until you have a chance to see the film for yourself.
There are probably three major questions that I am sure all fans want answered: Was it a bad movie? Did they skimp on the violence? Were there any crazy changes that ruin the book? No, no, and no. Breath a sigh of relief.
Gary Ross has managed to make a movie that I can say, as both a fan of the book and a lover of film, succeeds, and that is no small feat by any means. Too often, an adaptation will try too hard to please the hardcore fans and end up breathing no new life into a story, leaving a stale film (Watchmen). Other times it will attempt to make it so generally appealing to a broader audience that it turns generic and neither the fan base nor the general public has any interest. As a movie, I think it works. As a huge HG fan it is hard to be impartial, but I think that even the average movie goer will enjoy this one.
The violence is very real – they don’t pull punches. Especially Isabelle Furhman as Clove. The scene where she and Katniss make it easy to see why Jennifer Lawrence said those takes left her shaking. Furhman makes up for her smaller stature with a wild fury that would leave me (a six foot tall man) shaking should I have to face her in the arena. The Cornucopia bloodbath is also just as violent as you might imagine. While it doesn’t have gratuitous gore (like Battle Royale) it doesn’t shy away from the bloody violence either – it’s a very violent scene and the movie shows it.
Despite some differences, the movie stays true to the story, the ideas,and the characters we all know and love. Yes those who would like to see nothing but a word for word film copy of the book will find things to complain about, but we always knew there would have to be changes. There is no way to make a movie exactly like a book and have it actually be good. They are two different things. There are changes. There are some things that are skipped over or changed, like the origin of the Mockingjay pin, which we already knew about. Rest assured, however, that there are no crazy changes. Gale doesn’t sneak into the Capitol somehow to plot strategy like in that early leaked script. There are no totally new main characters or anything like that. I liken it to The Lord of the Rings. As a big Tolkein fan, there were certain changes that Peter Jackson made that bothered me (that’s not the way it happened!) but that didn’t change the fact that those were some incredible movies in every way.
The actors in The Hunger Games are fantastic – not only the leads, but the supporting cast as well. Usually in a movie (especially with kids) there are one or two actors who stand out as being just not as good as the others. I can’t think of anyone in this film that fits that bill. They all pulled off stunning performances. Stanley Tucci, of course, steals the show whenever he’s on screen, just like Caesar Flickerman should. Wes Bentley, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks, all pull off brilliant interpretations of Seneca Crane, Haymitch, and Effie. The portrayal of the behind the scenes of the Capitol is one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Gary Ross envisions things we knew were happening, but never really saw, and brings them to life wonderfully. We get to see the telecast announcing of the Games, we see reactions in the various districts, and the impact certain arena events have on others.
If I had something negative to say, it would be about the length and the character development. Despite the Games taking up a huge chunk of the nearly two and a half hour movie, they still felt short, not dragging on for the 17 days that they did in the book. Some of the character development was a little lax as well. However, I understand some of the reasons for that – so much of the games was waiting around, suffering from the cold, or heat, or leg wounds – it could have been tiring on screen. Also, it is hard to justify the development of characters that are just going to die a short way into the movie. I would have liked to see more of Rue‘s story though.
Overall a big thumbs up. As a huge Hunger Games fan, it is hard to be impartial, but I think that even the average movie goer will enjoy this one. This is a great movie and it’s almost here!