Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Movie Monday: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
On the second and fourth Monday of every month, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize that few people have the time or desire to read the amount that I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good movie almost as much as a good book.

Despite having a full queue of
classics ready and waiting for their turn to be featured on Movie Monday, I thought you all might enjoy something a bit more current today. 

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the second Hunger Games movie came out this weekend! We went with some friends on Saturday (to a matinee, even, like the old, cheap people we are). I plan to share my thoughts about it in a few weeks. I need some time to digest and discuss. Plus, I want to give you all a chance to see it!

Don't despair, however; we're still in the Hunger Games spirit around here today!  In anticipation of Saturday, Kevin and I watched the original movie last week. 

I have to admit, I had forgotten just how good it is. I think when it originally came out, I was hyperaware of any differences between it and the book, so I did not fully enjoy it as the great movie it was.  Besides, as far as film adaptations go, it does a pretty kick ass job. 

A few things it does beautifully:
  • Jennifer Lawrence. I can't believe anyone had doubts about her as Katniss. She's amazing - on and off screen. She may not be frail enough or plain enough, but she's an incredible actress. 
  • Basically all of the actors. This movie really is impeccably cast. My only complaint is Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. He's just not quite as strong and lovable as I imagine Peeta.
  • The script. There are some truly excellent lines, both comedic and weight-bearing. 
  • Showing Katniss's feelings. This is not an easy job. Katniss is an introvert who does not wear her heart on her sleeve. Not only does Jennifer Lawrence handle this well, but I think the film as a whole sets things up well. I'll be really interested to see how this works in the final movies. Mockingjay is by far the most complex book when it comes to Katniss's inner struggles and isolationism.
So they did some things really great. No doubt about that. Still, there are a few key areas where I really think the film drops the ball.  
  • Food symbolism. My number one complaint pertains to the symbolism of food. I mean, the books are called The Hunger Games after all. Food plays a big part. I recognize that they needed to take some things out to keep the movie at a semi-manageable length. Still, I wish they hadn't chosen to do away with all of the food symbolism. In the movie, you don't get a good sense of just how desperate things are for people in District 12. They are supposed to be starving. That's why Katniss and Gale have to hunt. Even when Peeta and Katniss get on the train and see the feast the Capitol has laid out, it's just a part of the lavish train, not the focal point. Suzanne Collins has wonderful, descriptive passages about food, particularly that in the Capitol. Katniss never is in awe of the famous lamb stew, Haymitch only sends broth when Peeta is dying, and District 11 never sends bread to Katniss after she memorializes Rue. Speaking of...
  • Rue's death. I do not at all like how the film handled Rue's death. The flowers and all that are beautiful, but it's what comes after that that bothers me. The uprising in District 11 happens too soon. They would be too scared to rebel until Katniss has shown them that the Capital can't control everything (at the end of the Games with the berries). The bread they send in the book is a much more appropriate gesture. Back to the food thing. District 11 is showing solidarity in the only way they know how at this point, by giving what little they have. I really don't believe that they are ready to stand up against the Capitol yet here. 
  • Peeta's art skills. Peeta's makeup is ridiculous. I mean, seriously. When Katniss finds him by the river he just looks silly. It's a great makeup job, but I can't help but laugh instead of staying with the serious moment. Note from Kevin: Also, there's no way a dying Peeta would have ever been able to pull that off. Agreed. 
  • The evil of the Capitol. We really don't see enough of President Snow being evil. We need to see that the Capitol is the bad guy. A lot of people have complained that Hunger Games glorifies the death of children. I think this issue is the real problem behind that one. We need to see better that all of the children are victims, even if they themselves don't understand it. 
If you've read the book and seen the movie, I have no doubt you have some opinions of your own. I would absolutely love to hear them, so leave a comment below. What do you think they did well? What aspects needed some work? Hold on to your thoughts about the second movie if you can! I promise to have a post on that one soon!

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