(Because the world totally needs another post about this…)
What did I think about the Hunger Games movie?
I loved it.
It wasn’t perfect, but I loved it.
(Especially Seneca Crane and his spectacular beard.)
For a fuller overview of my thoughts and feelings about the movie, check out Ingrid’s post on We Heart YA. There are jokes and pictures and really, really good observations. I give it all a big fat DITTO. Especially the numbered points at the end.
Ingrid closes her post with a very good question: How does this movie hold up for viewers who didn’t read the books?
Well, it just so happens that I went to see the movie with one such viewer: Andy. His thoughts and questions afterward were very telling, because they revealed how many blanks I had filled in without even realizing, how many little details retained significance for me but told him nothing. Don’t get me wrong: he enjoyed the movie. Just nowhere near on the same level that I did.
Story vs. message
I think the “problem” (though I hesitate to call it that) was that story was prioritized over message. To be clear: I think that was the right choice. It’s just that there were so many elements that had to be included — both to satisfy fans and to make the plot coherent — that with a “mere” 2 hours and 22 minutes, the deeper levels of meaning got relegated to the background. The menacing control exercised by the Capitol. The support for Katniss spreading among the districts. The avoxes. The uprising. These things were all shown, briefly, but without Katniss’s narration, and with so many other details competing for attention, it’s hard to comprehend their full weight.
You end up seeing the breadth of the story perfectly, but only glimpsing hints of the depth.
Also, the first two books use the arena as a metaphor for war (while the third book depicts war more literally, which I’m sure the third and/or fourth movies will do as well). But this film didn’t push the Hunger Games that far. Instead it focused on the idea of entertainment vs. ethics, and a society so concerned with its own pleasures that it becomes oblivious to the cost. An important message, to be sure, but it didn’t ring as true without the in-depth worldbuilding of the books.
The other problem with the film (IMO) was chemistry. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were both excellent in their roles — individually. But together? Not so much. The Girl on Fire and the Boy with the Bread produced, at best, a lukewarm dinner roll.
(Also, Josh with blond hair doesn’t hold a candle to Josh with dark hair.)
The cave scene in particular was so fraught with tender confusion and emotion — in the book. But in the movie, it felt rushed, almost stilted. Now, a caveat: I think for Katniss, that interaction WAS awkward and a bit forced. So maybe, maybe, that’s how Jennifer and Josh were playing it. And maybe that means they’ll heat up as the series goes along.
In the meantime, Jennifer’s chemistry with Liam Hemsworth was smoking like a seventh grade science experiment. And I’m not even on Team Gale…
But seriously, I loved it
Okay, put down the bows and arrows; leash up your muttations; and please, please, don’t send Tracker Jackers after me. I’ll say it again: I LOVED THE MOVIE. I even went through 3 whole tissues (versus 1.5 tissues for The Vow, for example). I just didn’t think it was perfect.
But then again, how could anything so beloved, so monumental in my imagination, possibly be lived up to?
It couldn’t. So I guess I’ll just have to read the book again. :)