Sunday, March 25, 2012

Katniss hits the bullseye (and apple)



Did I love it? Yes.

Was it perfect? No.

Did I go see it more than once this weekend? Yes.

Am I eager for the second film? Yes.


I was an early fan of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, inhaling each of the books and then dying to read the next, only to have to wait and wait. So it stands to reason that I had a lot of expectations and trepidation when I went to see the film adaptation.


This post will include spoilers, so stop reading if that's an issue. I'm going to keep this simple and just list my impressions, positive and negative, however they emerge.


Jennifer Lawrence nailed Katniss Everdeen. She was tough and courageous, yet vulnerable and scared. She was confused but still opinionated and outspoken. Even though she could appear hard, deep down she fiercely loved the people she cared about. All of these emotions flowed naturally from Jennifer, making her mesmerizing on screen.


Stanley Tucci was delightfully disturbing as Caesar Flickerman, the reality show host of the televised Hunger Games. He could plaster on a toothy smile of dazzling dimension while talking up the kids being sent to fight to the death in the games.


The scenes of the Reaping and of Rue's death carried considerable emotion and were not melodramatic in any way. Again, Jennifer did a smashing job.


Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson brought wonderful layers to the eccentric characters of Effie and Haymitch. Amandla Stenberg was a charmer as Rue, while Lenny Kravitz fit Cinna as if made for the part. In fact, the casting was good all around.


However, that said, I think the story line would have been enhanced by more character development between Katniss and Rue, Katniss and Cinna and in what Katniss really thought/felt about Peeta. Some of this felt rushed, and I realize that a film has a finite number of minutes it can run, but, perhaps something like the flashback of the mine disaster could've been cut to allow a few lines more to develop these relationships. In particular, the cave scene came across as shallow, not at all what was happening inside Katniss in the book, so that it seemed we lost the manipulative aspect of the games.


And that brings me to my major concern. The book is about tyranny used to control people through starvation and fear. Somehow, the film lost sight of that during the games, never really showing how hard it was for Katniss to find water and food. Here is one place I think the medium of film could be used to advantage by having a short cut to Caesar on television commenting with his false sincerity that Katniss has been without water for two days, will she find it or is this the end of the Girl on Fire? Or something like that, which wouldn't take much film time at all.


Anyway, it's easy to sit in the audience and crit something that took such enormous skill, energy and planning. Despite my complaints, the movie meets most of my expectations and is wonderful, gorgeous, breath-taking and quite satisfying. Hence, the going to see it more than once and still wanting to see it again.

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Have you seen it? Agree or disagree?

26 comments:

Kriston Johnson said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said. I wished for a little more in a few spots but over all extremely satisfied. I thought the district 11 uprising was very powerful. I loved seeing them make a stand. I will see it again.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Kriston: Oh, yes, that uprising got the heartrate up.
It's so hard, I think, when you love a book to accept the film version. In this case, they did a good job.

Yvonne Osborne said...

They left out much of the emotion, but movies often do. If I hadn't read the book I wouldn't have liked it as much as I did. Would I see it again? No. I did love the scene when she nails the apple, one of the better moments in the movie. The hover craft was ominous, reminded me of The Giver, but the capital's soldiers were too much like Star War's storm troopers. Donald Sutherland was good but Katniss's male friend from District 12 came across as an empty character, too cute, not real at all. I mean he looked like he just walked out of the salon.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I haven't seen the movie yet (no babysitter this weekend), but that means I have time to reread the books. So far it sounds like I won't be disappointed!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Stormtroopers! That's hilarious and not too far of a stretch, either. I loved the subtle menace that Donald Sutherland portrayed.

Stephanie: I think you'll love it. I'm glad you get to reread the book and then enjoy the film. happy week to you!

Wen Baragrey said...

I think what I loved about this movie was that it really wasn't a disappointment. Sure, we knew more of what was going on in Katniss' head in the books, but that's always the same with a book to movie adaptation.

The only place I thought that aspect really let it down was in the cave, as you said Tricia. We couldn't see just how manipulative the whole situation was and how uncertain of each other's motives they were, or at least, Katniss was.

I just loved it so much! I saw it at a drive in with my daughter on a stormy night with helicopters circling at a distance, can you imagine a better setting to see it?

I am so excited for Catching Fire!

Bish Denham said...

I'm so behind the curve. I finally bought the trilogy for my Kindle and am reading it. I'm just into the first book and I must say... it's got me on the edge of my seat. (No you didn't give anything away, I've already read about Rue's death and the cave scene...) As for going to see the movie? I don't know. I may wait until it comes out on NetFlix.

Claire Dawn said...

Still no release date for Japan. Crying and crying :(

Laraine Eddington said...

I had to skip the middle because of spoilers. I'm excited to go tonight.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wen: I, too, am so relieved it wasn't a big disappointment, which has happened to me before with adaptations.
I've gotta ask: How do you watch a drive-in movie in a storm???

Bish: Suzanne Collins is a master of edge-of-seat and shocking surprises (that work). I think you're going to love the ride. :)

Claire!!!! Oh, no. I can't believe it hasn't opened there, too. Must be not enough copies of the film to go around or the subtitles aren't done yet. I hope you get to see it soon.

Laraine: I'm excited for you! Really, the anticipation is part of the fun.

Lydia Kang said...

aaah, I can't read this, I haven't seen it yet! *covers eyes*

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lydia: I hope you get to uncover your eyes and see it soon! ;)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Actually I see what you're saying, but I disagree. I got all of that out of it based on implications in the narrative and the scenes. E.g. her learning to trap and blowing up the other's supplies. Basically, I LOVED it. Maybe I'm too close to it right now though!

LynNerdKelley said...

My husband and I went to see it yesterday, and I really liked the movie. Like you said, I thought Jennifer Lawrence did an amazing job of portraying Katniss. I also agree about how it didn't stress the hardships Katniss struggled with to get food and water, and your suggestion would have done the trick. I mean it's not called The HUNGER Games for nothing! I also think the rest of the casting was well done. I knew the movie wouldn't be as good as the book because they seldom are. Most of the relationships were cut short in the movie, but there was so much to cover, so I wasn't disappointed in the movie and I want to see it again. I'm looking forward to the next two coming out, also. I LOVE this trilogy.

Julie Dao said...

Agree with all of your comments, Tricia! I for one loved this movie. They couldn't have picked a better Katniss than Jennifer Lawrence. Agree that the almost nonexistent love triangle could have used a bit more exploration and development, but there's only so much time a director has to squeeze a story into movie mode and I think, on the whole, it was all done very well. Wish we could have seen the faces of the dead tributes in that last scene by the cornucopia.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm always scared to see the movies of books I love. I usually put it off for a while to see what others think. I don't want the movie to ruin the book for me. So far, though, everything I've heard points me in the direction of the movie theater! :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lisa: I love that you disagree. That is what is weird about critting anything--we all have different perspectives and desires. Plus, I love so much about the film.

Lynn: I'd love to hear how your husband reacted to the film and whether he read the books. and you are so right about why it's called what it's called!

Julie: I agree about the love triangle. Without going into her head, it is hard to let the audience know she is totally confused about what's going on with Peeta, and I think the story needs that because it's wrapped up in the way they're being manipulated.

Jemi: I know what you mean, and I've seen some adaptations that were really terrible. But this one sings! I hope you go soon and have a great time.

Talli Roland said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I haven't seen it yet. I want to read the books first.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a wonderful review. I haven't seen the movie yet. I'm with Jemi: reluctant to see a movie when I've loved the book. But I've read a number of great reviews, including yours, and I'm growing curious. : )

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Talli: Excellent choice to read the books first. They are so good!

Cynthia: I hope you have a great time when you go. It's a wild ride!

Sarah Laurence said...

I'll come back and read this post after I see the movie this weekend. I'm taking my daughter and her friends. We meant to go last weekend, but she had too much homework. My friend who edited the books was pleased with the movie. She went to the premier.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: Oooo, have a great time! And that's fantastic to hear that the book editor was pleased. :)Who could be any closer than the author?

Catherine Denton said...

I agree. You put it perfectly.

Also, thanks for your kind words on my blog.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Catherine: thank you, my dear

Sarah Laurence said...

Great review! I'm back now that I saw it with my 14 year old daughter and her friends. We all agreed that the movie was good but the books were better for depth. You miss a lot of her relationship with Gale, who also seemed too handsome and well fed for the role. I thought the Peeta-Katniss part was pretty good. I loved Rue and JL made Katniss more likable than in the books.

Sarah Laurence said...

I should add that the book editor preferred the book, but though the movie was good too.