Thursday, March 29, 2012

About time for a Hunger Games review? I think so.

For those of you who know me, you know there’s nothing I love more than going to the movies. 

I would go every week – maybe even more than once a week – if I could afford it and had someone to come with me.  In fact, I’ve often thought of going on my own even when I can’t find someone to come with me…but I’m too self-conscious to sit in a theatre alone. 

(People would be looking at me funny.  I know it.  “Crazy lady who goes to the movies alone.”  That’s what I’d be.)

But someday, I just might have to go alone, because it truly is one of my favourite places to be, and not everyone shares my enthusiasm of going to the movies.

Some people think it’s expensive or a waste of money.  Some would rather wait til it comes out on DVD and watch from the comfort of their own couch.

But the smell of the buttery popcorn that hits you when you walk through the doors?  The big, comfy seats?  The giant screen?  The booming sound? 

That is heavenly to me, and worth every penny.

And every once in a while, a film comes along that makes going to the movies even more special.  A film that is more than just a movie.

It’s more of an event, really.

And this past weekend, I enjoyed the movie event that is THE HUNGER GAMES.

Late Sunday afternoon, I joined my friends Lindsay & Ryan, and my brother Luke and his wife Amanda to see the movie that I had been anxiously anticipating ever since I read the series in a whirlwind two weeks last summer.

I was skeptical of the books, just as I was with Twilight.  I didn’t think this would be my kind of gig.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I was completely swept up in the dystopian future that author Suzanne Collins created, where the world as we know it is no more.  The people of the post-apocalyptic country Panem are separated into districts, each poor but with their own specialty, and fall under the rule of the rich, lavish and colourful Capitol.  Every year, two teenagers from each District  – one girl and one boy - are selected in what they call “The Reaping”.  These twenty-four young people are pitted against one another in the annual Hunger Games, which is essentially a sick and violent reality TV show in which they battle one another to the death in a grand, fabricated outdoor “arena”, with only one victor left standing.  The Games were created after a rebellion against the Capitol years ago when the former District 13 was abolished, to serve as punishment and a reminder to the people of Panem that the Capitol is to be respected and they are to be obedient.

We are introduced to the character of Katniss Everdeen, the young woman from District 12 who volunteers in place of her sister to take part in the Hunger Games.  She is joined by a boy named Peeta Mellark, and together, under the guidance of their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, they attempt to bring a victory to District 12 for the first in years.  It won’t be easy, as they are going up against much stronger and more practiced competitors.  But with Katniss’ skill with a bow, learned from her days hunting back home with her friend Gale, it’s the first time in a long time that District 12 has a chance.

Of course, for someone like me to be hooked, there’s gotta be a little romance.  And Katniss & Peeta deliver. ;)

First of all – can I just say that I thought the casting for the movie was phenomenal?  I loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  Liam Hemsworth as Gale was absolutely drool-worthy, and if Josh Hutcherson  in the role of Peeta wasn’t such a cutie too, I’d have totally jumped from Team Peeta to Team Gale!

(Apparently you can’t watch  a movie or TV show around here these days without picking a team.)

I was also surprised and thrilled with Woody Harrelson portraying Haymitch.  I couldn’t picture it, but he was excellent – just the added touch of humor that the flick needed.  And another pleasant surprise was Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Katniss & Peeta’s stylist.  I wasn’t sure how he would fit in that role, but he was just perfect.

Truthfully, the only slight fault I could find was the chemistry between the actors playing Katniss and Peeta.  Without giving away a whole lot to those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I felt that their relationship on the page was more believable than it was on-screen.  Anyone else feel that way?

I do think that it was a good idea that I hadn’t read the books recently – it was over six months ago that I flew through them, and while the main story still held strong in my mind, many of the details were gone.   I think that heightened my experience in the movie, as I was on the edge of my seat at times, trying to remember, “What happens here?”  And in the few cases where the movie differed from the book, I wasn’t bogged down or bothered by it.

To be honest, I thought it was one of the most true book-to-screen conversions I have ever seen.  I’d have to re-read the story to see what was missed, because I didn’t miss much and I thought they covered a lot.

I had also worried a little beforehand about how the violence would be dealt with on the big screen.  It’s a rather gruesome story, and I didn’t want to be hiding behind my coat the whole time, à la Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  But while the fighting and deaths certainly weren’t hidden or sugar-coated, it wasn’t all blood, guts and gore either - perfectly suitable for the young-adult audience the original book was targeted towards.

I loved it.  I thought it was just about perfect.  And I’m glad that there are 3 more movies to anticipate in the future, especially now that the Twilight Saga is winding down.  (Oh, and you should’ve Lindsay and I gasping and holding hands in excitement when we caught our first glimpse of Breaking Dawn Part 2 in the previews!  November 16th!!!)

Did you see The Hunger Games on opening weekend?  If not, do you plan to see it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Thursday :)


Nicole said...

I hadn't even heard of it until about the end of January when my friend wouldn't quit raving about it....

Lindsay said...

I LOVED the hunger games and i'm SOO lookng forward to future hunger game events! Shall I say, DVD release lunch date? Just saying! :-) xo

Stacie said...

I'm hoping to get to see it this weekend. I haven't read any of the books, but I loved the preview when we saw it during Breaking Dawn 1 and knew it would make my must see list!

Carly Ann said...

I'm similar to you in that I was really slow to read Twilight... it didn't peak my interest until after I'd seen the first movie for a friend's birthday. My sister convinced me to read the Hunger Games and I would have stayed up for 48 hours straight to read them all if i didn't have a job (and if I wasn't borrowing the books and having to wait between them to get the next one). I've heard a lot of reviews that the movie is really good as far as staying true to the book and that the actual violence is done well so that it isn't just a blood fest.

Emmy said...

Yep saw it opening weekend-- and yes I agree about the relationship but a lot of that came about during the cave scenes which they cut a little too short in my opinion. If they had played that part out just a bit more it would have helped with that a lot.

And my other critique (though I totally totally loved it)- is the whole Hunger aspect wasn't emphasized enough. If you have read the books it was fine, but if you hadn't you wouldn't quite realize how truly starving and destitute they are-- Katniss could have even said how truly starving she was to Peeta when she thanked him for the bread (which I don't think she truly does, just thinks it in the book) but that could have been added.
But yes I love loved it and totally plan on reading the series again before the next one which is a 1 1/2 away! Boo!

Jillian said...

unfortunately I have read the books too many times to count (especially the first one) and there were certain things about the book that should have been in the movie. Like when Clove is shouting for Cato but he doesn't show up while in the book we see somewhat of a more emotional side. Sure we saw a little of his softer side in the scene on top of the cornucopia but it wasn't enough for this team Cato member (that's right I'm team Cato!)also the cave scene wasn't nearly as amazing from book to movie

Connie Weiss said...

I love going to the movies alone!

I can sit where I want and eat what I want!