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.

Peeta.

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?

Image Credit - Murray Close

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.

    Comments

  • Melisa


    I’m glad you liked it! J thought the acting was terrible and was “meh” about the movie (he’s a big fan of the books), but then again I also made him go to his half-day of school today so I think that possibly colored his 6:45 a.m. review.

  • AmazingGreis


    I loved the movie!! LOVED it!

    Though, when Woody Harrelson first came on screen I thought dude they should have cast Matthew McConaughey!!

  • WebSavvyMom


    –>I can’t wait to see the film. I almost want to reread the book first though.

  • Liz


    My middle girl and I finished reading Book 1 this week. She was flat-out annoyed with Katniss and then our argument…I mean…discussion intensified by me declaring, “How would you feel if you were thrust into a relationship and had to pretend to love someone while someone else is trying to shoot an arrow up your butt?” Her reply, “If it was Josh Hutcherson, pretty gosh-darned awesome!” Ahhhh, youth. Now I’m really looking forward to the movie, thanks!

  • erin


    I saw a photo of Josh H. and Jennifer L. at a premiere and thought the same thing. (Actually I thought he looked more like a Hobbit compared to her.) His face does look pretty much how i pictured it would though. That is kind of weird.

  • Always home and uncool


    I heard Gale gets short shrift in this flick. That also may have been a height joke.

  • alaina


    Great review, so excited to see it! Here’s hoping Peeta hits puberty stat.

  • Cindi


    We also saw the midnight showing- we loved it!! I think Josh was great as Peeta. As far as chemistry, he is the one who had a crush on her, she didn’t remember him until the reaping. In her mind it’s all an act so they can surrvive. In the end, the conflict of her affection was visible. In the book, Peeta is med. height and stocky. I do wish his eyes had been blue though!

    • Momo Fali


      In the end, yes, but I didn’t feel the conflict in the cave. Did you? I felt that for there to be conflict, she had to be at least *somewhat* attracted to him. He came off as wimpy to me and I didn’t think he was that wimpy in the book.

      • Cindi


        Katiniss had just watched Rue die, she agonized over that. She didn’t want another person who had saved her life to die. She knew what she had to do to get help for Peeta(draw sponsors with a love story-p.261) and she did it. They surrvived the games together, something most people can’t comprehend and now have a strong bond. One more thing, President Snow wasn’t convinced either. πŸ™‚

  • Misty


    I loved the entire cast. I thought the casting director was spot on, even in Peeta. BUT thought the movie lacked a lot. Visually, yes, nailed it… Loved the “behind the scenes” aspects…
    So much if the book is carried by Katniss’ thoughts and feelings, I felt like they should have narrated her thoughts a bit. I NEVER got that he was in live with her but she thought he was acting, and that is such a vital part of the story… SO many things were lost because they essentially cut out Katniss’ voice.

    • Momo Fali


      Well, you are not alone. I think Josh is an amazing actor, but I just didn’t get the sense of any chemistry and if Katniss was selling her love for him to the Districts, I don’t know how they bought it!

  • Misty


    Live=love… Dumb iPhone!

  • Alexandra


    Oooh. I have been reading this at so many review sites too: Poor petite Peeta.

    I can barely stand it.

    BUT IT”S TRUE.

    Still, I feel so sorry for the short guys that are reading this in the reviews.

  • Lauren


    I went to see the midnight showing of this movie too. I loved it! I agree with you about the prep team though. They should have shown them a bit more. However, Peeta is another matter. He isn’t a wimp. If you’ll remember correctly, he’s simply not a piece in their games. But more importantly, he’s not supposed to be fiery like Gale, or on fire like Katniss. And that is because he is not the mockingjay, but rather, the dandelion in the spring. Which, although fragile, represents the beauty of new beginnings.

  • BusyDad


    They should have cast me as Peeta.

    • Momo Fali


      Dude. You’re like eight inches taller than that kid.

  • Corey~livingandloving


    I must be the only person that didn’t like. AT ALL! hated the shaky filming…..only character I liked casting for was Katniss. I just love the books too much to appreciate a shortened…..hurried up……boring movie of it. I felt no connection to the characters…..and I really felt like it was way too surfacy. The books have so much amazing detail and character development. A movie just can’t compare. However….I NEVER like the movies of books that I love, so I’m not surprised at my reaction.

  • Ann in NJ


    I thought it was marvelous (as did my daughter). It didn’t bother me that Peeta was shorter than Katniss, it fit with the whole character that he was supposed to be kind of wimp. From what I’ve read, it was a deliberate part of casting the movie. My only complaint is that it didn’t really communicate the mixed feelings that Katniss develops for Peeta after the game is over – the show of affection for the public is obviously a show, but you don’t get that genuine affection (or confusion) that is in the book.

  • Pam


    haven’t seen the movie, but i just read that josh hutcherson and jennifer lawrence are actually the same in height: 5’7″ however, she’s wearing heels in the movie. the other guy, liam, is 6’3″ so he’s going to tower over those two no matter what unless they’re wearing 6″ heels :p~ my oldest daughter is going to see it with her friends next weekend (couldn’t this weekend due to the high school play). i may take youngest daughter a different time. my girls LOVE josh hutcherson, and he’s always been good in movies that i’ve seen him in.

    i also have to admit that i haven’t read the books yet, either, but i’m sure that anyone who was a writer on clarissa explains it all, is a far better writer than stephanie meyer (who i think sucks).

  • Pam


    i just found this article from last year regarding the casting. most of the comments did not like it at all and said the movie would bomb. http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/04/05/hunger-games-peeta-gale-statements/

    it made $155 million this weekend lol

  • Lindsey


    Wow, you hit on exactly the two things that I disliked about the film – the handheld camera work, and the total miscasting (IMO)of Peeta; I was totally distracted in every scene he was in because all I could think about is how unattractive I find him! Nor did he bring enough charm to the role to overcome the utter lack of sex appeal. With a more attractive Peeta (Hunter Parrish??), this would have been a killer adaptation…

    • Momo Fali


      Yay! FINALLY, someone agrees with me!

    • Jen


      I just looked up Hunter Parrish and YES!! So much more fitting as Peeta!! The guy who took my ticket at the movie theatre was more Peeta-ish than the actor cast as him in the movie.

  • Lindsey


    And I would add that, while I will certainly see the other movies, I am no longer uber-excited about them because I am totally turned off by JH πŸ™

  • Akina


    I like Peeta and Josh’s interpretation in movie. I wish he would look just 2 inches taller especially when he’s with Katniss.
    It’s okay in first movie that Peeta is shorter than Katniss. Perhaps he hasn’t hit his growth spurt at 16 and hence never worked up the courage to approach her before the reaping. Especially consider your competition is Gale (Liam) who is a giant at 6’3″. As the trilogy progresses, it gets harder to see *spoiler* Katniss to end up with Peeta in the end. And with Josh being 21 now, it is highly unlikely to grow much taller.

  • Lindsey


    Idk, maybe it’s just me, but I was Peeta all the way when reading the books (long before casting) – Gale was never in the running. But just a few minutes into the movie, I turned to my friend and said “Okay, I’m officially Team Gale, now”, lol! JH is just NEVER going to do it for me. And a young lady at work who read the books AFTER casting, and with the two male actors in her mind, says she was Gale all the way, Peeta didn’t stand a chance. Interesting how that works; I guess we have to be attracted to a character/actor on both levels – personality AND looks – and JH doesn’t really appeal to me personally on any level. With a book, a character can look anyway you imagine, but once an actor has been cast, it can totally change how you view/feel about the character. It did for me anyway…

  • Rachel Blaufeld


    Katniss was simply gorgeous and Gale was smoking hot,,,,and yes Peeta (who I am on his team) is too small. I am 5’11” and I like my hunks on the big side πŸ™‚ I agree with some of the comments above – the cave scene needed to be more smoldering and I needed more Cinna.

    In my mind – Woody Harrelson was the best – loved him in that role.

    Now I know you love me – but, I am going to go on a limb and say – YES, one of the best parts for me was the Breaking Dawn preview – sorry, but I am an adolescent 12 year old who loves sparkles and Edward (at heart).

  • Jamie


    My husband just told me this morning this is what we are going to do Friday night…how fun. Can’t wait to see the smallish Peeta.

  • Dana


    You hit it on the head. I loved the film and the characters but also was dizzy from all of the shaky footage. I thought that had hired the three kids from Blair Witch to shoot the film.

    I also think Haymitch was too sober =)

    I am already aching to see it again

  • Kelly


    I would basically agree with your review. I thought, given the limitations of a 2 hour movie vs an 11hr audio book, they did a great job. Things are going to change and/or skimmed over, you just have to accept that going in. I *try* to treat movies as something separate from the book just so I don’t drive myself crazy with “why did they do that” kinds of reactions.

    RE: Peeta’s height. Technically, I think Jennifer is too tall. In the book, it says that she’s fairly small – not little, but not tall, and 5’7″ for a girl is well above average. So there’s a slightly different take on the subject. πŸ˜‰ I do think she did a superb job of acting, though, so I’m not sorry she’s Katniss.

  • Jen


    EXACTLY!! I just saw the movie last night and am so not happy with the casting for Peeta. I had the same objections-he seemed like such a weakling, too short and looked like he was 12 which added to the weakling feel and absolutely no chemistry which we all know is a pivotal part to the entire series. The movie fell flat for me because they screwed up such a key character. I can only hope others will speak up with their displeasure and the character will recast or the boy who plays the part will back out. If he is in the 2nd movie I will likely not go to watch it. Such a shame.

  • Jen


    And one more thing- is it soooo difficult to put in blue contacts for JH??? This was a pet peeve of mine in the HP films where radcliffe’s eyes are suppose to be so green and are clearly blue, or that Aberforths eyes were brown when they were suppose to be blue like dumbledores. Sorry, those details irritate me. I mean, you think they can spare a $100 bucks on tinted lenses for JH.

  • sadie


    I had some skepticism about Josh playing Peeta too (c’mon, where are those big blue eyes that haunt my dreams?), but I had a change of heart after I watched his interviews-he exudes this charisma and humor that just screams Peeta to me. However…they better write his character a lot stronger in the next movies. They’re giving that awesome boy a bad rep as a real sissy :/

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