Please note: This movie review assumes you have read The Hunger Games (as in, the first book of the trilogy). If you haven’t read the book, you should stop reading lighthearted blog posts and go snuggle up with a blanket and some post-apocalyptic, young-adult fiction. Go on, now!
First, let me start by saying that I’m not a typical reader of young-adult fiction. I have never so much as opened the cover of a Harry Potter book (GASP!) and I stopped reading the Twilight series…well, right after Twilight. *insert long passage of angst-ridden, teen girl staring upon glittery, vampire skin* There, now you’ve read Twilight, too.
But, when my then 12 year old became fascinated while reading The Hunger Games last year, and I watched the excitement, anger, sadness and disbelief on her face, I decided to give it a shot.
And, it was good. Really good. Of course, you know that, because you read the book too. If you didn’t read it, what are you waiting for? Also, there are spoilers ahead, so git!
It is rare when I see movies that I find more intriguing than the books on which they are based. Lord of the Rings and its stunning visuals comes to mind (and I’m not just talking about Viggo Mortensen, *wink*). More often, the movie leaves me disappointed because I have become engrossed in the story and created vivid imagery in my mind; then the movie comes along and wipes that all away.
That was not the case with this film. Everything about The Hunger Games, absolutely everything, was exactly as I had pictured it to be. Well, except for one thing.
Look, Peeta is great and I’m totally Team Peeta, and I’m sure the actor who played him is a perfectly nice guy, but he is just too little for this role. It’s one thing to have a guy play a sensitive character as a star-crossed lover, but when he is sensitive, injured, and physically smaller than the girl he’s in love with? He comes off as a weakling.
Maybe he was cast to make Katniss look more powerful, because she does, but it also makes any semblance of a love story completely unbelievable. There was no chemistry, put on for the arena cameras or otherwise. I don’t know how the Districts could have bought such an awkward love story without the male, at least, being a little more impressive in the height department.
The rest of the casting was spectacular. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman (just wait until you see that grin), Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Woody Harrelson as mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, were superb choices. And, who would believe that Elizabeth Banks would make such a perfect Effie Trinkett?
The movie did a great job of detailing Capitol excess, the desperation in the Districts, how the gamemakers work their magic, and for a moment, I felt like I was in the field with Katniss as Rue slipped away.
I am not, however, a fan of the shaky camera syndrome employed during parts of the film, including every fight scene. It has its benefits, as you get the impression of a violent encounter without actually viewing any gore (good for my 13 year old daughter, who was sitting next to me), but flat-out, it makes me dizzy.
I also would have liked to see more development of the prep team characters, but that may have stretched the movie to an unreasonable length.
Overall, this movie did not disappoint. For me to stay up until 3:30 AM and still say that? Well, that means it was a pretty good flick. It was well worth the money and the lack of sleep.
But, to be honest with you, I hope that Peeta grows a few inches by the time the second film is made.