In case you missed my constant Facebook status updates and don't know, I went to the midnight premiere of the Hunger Games. And it was awesome. The whole going-at-midnight thing was a unique experience in itself, almost as exciting as the movie, and I think I'll post something about that later. But for right now I'm just going to focus on talking about the movie, because I know that's what you all care about most, as you decide whether or not you want to see it. (How have you not seen it yet?!)
Anyway, in short: You should see it. It's a really incredible movie and one you won't easily forget. It was both thrilling and terrifying. You might've wanted to look away sometimes, but you also didn't want to miss a single second of it.
I have so much to say about it, and I'm afraid of this turning into a giant, rambling love-fest, so I'm going to try to organize my thoughts in some way. First I'll talk a little bit about the characters, some of their key moments, and, of course, what I thought of the actor's portrayal of them.
Oh. my. God. Jennifer Lawrence did an amazing job as Katniss. I am now her number one fan. She is Katniss. She has that Katniss swagger down perfectly. I know that's a silly way of saying it, but that's what I thought when I watched her strutting around the Seam for the first time. She has that confidence and toughness, something that came from a lifetime of having to fend for herself. And yet, she can also be really vulnerable. She shows so much emotion in her face, and can go from one feeling to the next instantly. For example, there's this moment in the movie when she steps into the tube that will take her up to the arena, and the glass closes around her, and she turns and looks at Cinna with this expression of absolute terror. It was incredible. There were little things, too, like this exchange with Foxface that is so perfectly captured in this GIF (By the way, I didn't take this video. Just passing it along.)
Look at it! The look of terror! You can just see her thinking "Is she going to kill me? Should I kill her first?" GOD IT'S INTENSE. Oh, also, another great moment from Jennifer Lawrence: Right before she leaves for the games, she gives her mother a good talking to and tells her she can't zone out again, that she has to be there for Prim. It was a little harsh, but Lawrence managed to pull it off. She pulls everything off! Her Katniss is definitely someone who could start a revolution: She's strong and inspiring but also really vulnerable and relatable. Good job, Jennifer Lawrence! (Yes, I'm sure me saying good job to her was much more important that that Oscar nomination she got a few years ago.) I'll mention some of her other great moments when I talk about the actual breakdown of the movie. Anyway...
Josh Hutcherson (I have learned his name now. And started following him on Twitter.) was also amazing in his role as Peeta, although Lawrence outshined him a little bit. But that's how it should be. Anyway, he got all the key Peeta characteristics perfectly, captured the essential Peeta-ness, if you will. He was sweet and kind, but not a total push-over either. I especially liked his scenes on the train, when he was actually trying to make a strategy even though Katniss and Haymitch just wanted to mope. He also did really well in the intense emotional moments, like when he says at dinner in the Capital that he doesn't expect to live, and, of course, the famous "I don't want to be a piece in the game" speech. Those were all really good. Some people have complained about the chemistry between him and Katniss and have said that their relationship felt forced and weird, but I do not agree. I mean, when it was just for show, it seemed like it was just for show, although I think Hutcherson managed to convey that Peeta's feelings weren't really for show. And then when they got closer, it seemed pretty realistic to me. Anyway, we can talk more about that later. Finally, I also thought that the interview with Cesar, another big Peeta moment, was really well done. They really did have that easy, back-and-forth relationship that Katniss always talked about in the books! It was great!
Gale, portrayed by Miley Cyrus's boyfriend (just kidding. Liam what-his-face), didn't have a big role in this movie. I thought he did a pretty good job, though, when he was on screen, although I'm not sure he captured the character quite as well as the other two. To me, he just seemed too happy and joke-y to be Gale. He didn't have that rough edge that I think would come from life in District 12. That being said, I did like the scenes between him and Katniss. They had a good relationship. He also had a few shining moments throughout the movie, like when they show him watching Peeta and Katniss kiss in the arena. The camera just shows in for a second, but you can immediately see in his face what he's feeling. Acting! Also, when Katniss comes home, victorious, in the end, and he's standing out in the crowd with Prim on his shoulders, I just cried.
|I just had to share this.|
Cinna was awesome. He's always been one of my favorite characters, and I was a little nervous about Lenny Kravitz playing him, but I thought he did a great job. He and Jennifer Lawrence/Katniss had a really great rapport. It was clear that he really cared about her and that he realized what she was going in to. He had some really great lines, about believing in her and all that, and he delivered them well. He seemed very like...soulful. Which I thought was fitting for Cinna.
Haymitch was hilarious and I loved him! I had always pictured him really differently than this actor, older and fatter, but I thought the young-ish guy with the long hair worked too. I loved seeing him start out as this total dead-beat, useless mentor and then slowly transform into a better one as he got to know Katniss and Peeta better and started to care about them more. Also, he's an interesting character, because he's spent a lot of time with people from the Capital, but he's not from there, so he has an outsider perspective on it, and the movie really shows that. There's this one tiny, tiny part where he's sitting in a lobby or something the day the games start, watching it on TV, and there's a family next to him with two children. The kids have fake swords and are pretending to be in the Hunger Games, and Haymitch shakes his head in disgust. It was great.
Effie had super cool clothes and was really funny. She brought a lot of comic relief to the movie, with all her ridiculous ideas about how life should be, based on her ridiculous life in the Capital.
Snow & Seneca Crane
I'm just going to stick these two together, since they were sort of a team. Except for when Snow kills Seneca. Whoops. Anyway, we saw a bit more of them and their lives in the movie than in the book, which I thought was cool. These scenes also helped explain the Games a bit more and really helped to show how evil it all is. For example, Snow seems completely numb to the pain of his people. And we see Seneca (head Game maker) creating obstacles in the games in order to drive the Tributes together so that they'll maybe kill each other, basically, in order to have a more exciting show. It's terrifying, but really adds a lot to the movie.
Okay, that's all the important characters I think, so now let's talk about the beginning, middle, and end of the movie. Or, rather, all the stuff before the games, the games themselves, and what happens after. Obviously I can't talk about every single second (well, actually I probably could, but you probably don't want me to), but I'll tell you what parts really stood out to me.
Before the Games
The movie begins at dawn in District 12. Prim has just woken up for a nightmare, and Katniss comforts her by singing and then leaves to go hunting. (Although all she says to Prim is "I just have to go.") Then the camera shows a few shots of District 12 - people scavenging for food, dirty children, men going off to the mines. I really liked that part because I thought it really captured District 12 with just a few seconds of footage. You knew immediately that this was a pretty poor place. Anyway, so then Gale and Katniss go off and hunt, and then it's the reaping, etc, etc. The reaping scene is obviously really intense, but wasn't much of a surprise since it's in all the trailers. Still, it made me cry. Also, the parts with them getting ready and dressed up for the reaping were really sad and intense, since they're basically getting dressed up to maybe go die.
Other stand out scenes in this part: I have to say, I really loved all the Tribute stuff before the games. The training, the interviews, the chariot rides. It was just such a strange and scary situation, and sometimes you could almost forget what they were training for, but then someone would say something like "20% of you will die from dehydration" and then you (in the audience) would be like "OMG they're going to DIE!" I also thought the filmmakers did a good job making the people in the capital totally despicable. You just saw them there, with their fancy outfits, laughing and carrying on, and they just seemed so stupid and mindless and I hated them. I loved the interviews, and the look on Katniss's face when she saw herself on the screen at the chariot ride was absolutely priceless: like she couldn't believe that that was her up there, and she was wondering how she had gotten to this point.
Oh, also, random, but I thought the Capital looked really cool on screen. The first time I saw it, as Peeta looks out from the train, it really shocked me. It looked so cool.
Oh, and I loved the parts when the whole team (Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Cinna and Effie) were all together, like when they were watching to see the scores. I loved how happy the all were about Katniss's score, even though, when you think about it, that's a weird thing to be happy about. Oh, and they never really mentioned how that would make Katniss a target for the other tributes, so that might've confused people who hadn't read the book.
Some fans were mad about the fact that the rest of the glam team was missing, but I didn't really care. Although, sometimes Effie's hair color would change, and I couldn't tell if she was another character or the same person.
And obviously the part where Katniss shot the arrow at the Judges was awesome.
In the Games
The parts in the arena were really intense, obviously. It really made me jumpy, because I felt like at any moment someone could just run out and stab Katniss. I didn't remember much from the book, so I never knew what to expect. The Careers were terrifying, especially how they seemed to almost be enjoying themselves. But then you knew they were all thinking about how maybe they should just kill off their allies in their sleep. Scary.
I loved when Rue and Katniss banded together, like when Rue gave Katniss the idea of sending the Tracker Jackers after the Careers. Oh, also, about that part - Katniss got stung by one and she started hallucinating, and they used her hallucinations to show some of her backstory which I thought was really cool. I loved how everything melded together and one thing turned into another, like when her mother yelling "Run" turned into Peeta yelling "Run." Crazy. The camera was kind of unsteady during that part, though, which made me kind of dizzy.
Other parts that stand out: When Katniss blew up the Careers supplies by shooting the apples. I only remembered this from the books after it happened in the movie, so that was a nice surprise.
One of my favorite parts, hands down, was when Katniss salutes the people in District 11 and they all salute her back. That was so cool. And then they started rebelling, which I thought was another cool scene, even though it was very, very scary. The filming and different shots at that part were just so cool, like when they showed all the papers from the Peace Keeper's offices fluttering in the streets.
Oh, and you know those three notes you hear at the end of the trailer when they show the Mockingjay symbol?! That was Katniss and Rue's song that they sang to the Mockingjays in the arena. So cool!!! I really liked that. Rue was so cute...oh Rue...
|Don't mess with these guys. Unless you're Katniss.|
Oh, a note on the violence, because I know a lot of people are wondering about that: The movie definitely didn't sugar coat the violence, but they also didn't over-do it, and I thought, for a movie about killing children, they did the best job they could with it. A lot of the violence was kind of suggested - like you would see someone about to stab someone, but then the camera would cut way, and then it would cut back and that person would be dead. But I didn't mind that. I didn't want to see blood flying everywhere. And in contrast, sometimes it was was very brutal and in-your-face, like when Cato twists someone's neck as if he's just opening a jar of peanut butter. There was a good balance of the shown and not-shown, I thought. They managed to get the point across - that this is brutal and disgusting - but it wasn't excessive. I also thought the scenes in the outside world, like in the Game Makers room, helped to break up the time in the arena and make it a little more bearable.
Oh, and all the stuff with the canons, and the Tribute's faces in the night sky - I knew it was coming because I remembered it from the books, but actually seeing it was totally different. It was so sad, and cruel, how they say "remembering the fallen" like they died in some accident or something. Ugh.
I guess I should say something about the infamous cave scenes. I know they were supposed to be a big deal, but they weren't the most memorable parts of the movie for me. Not that I didn't like them. They were good. But other things stood out more to me. But it was very sweet when Katniss and Peeta were trying to heal each other. Oh, and that Game Maker's faces when they're being all in love...priceless.
I've heard that some people didn't like the mutt dog part and thought it should've been longer, and that the mutts should've looked more like tributes, like they did in the books, but I personally didn't mind. By that point, I was pretty ready for the arena part of the movie to be over and I just wanted them to almost-eat the berries already and get out of there. The last fight scene with Cato really scared me and I thought his death scene was really sad. I can't decide if I liked his speech or if it was too dramatic. Thoughts?
Also, random thought, but I really pictured the Cornocopia looking different. It sounds stupid, but I basically pictured it as one of those brown things you put on the table at Thanksgiving. All wicker and what-not. Yeah.
|Not what I had in mind...|
The part after the Games was pretty short, and this entry is getting long...so I'll make it snappy.
I wish they had shown more of Peeta and Katniss's relationship after the games. They never had that conversation about whether it was all for show or not. I guess they're saving that for Catching Fire.
I loved the part when they get crowned (loved Katniss's dress at that part) and when they go home. I also liked the part when Katniss and Peeta are looking out the window on the train, and Katniss says "I guess now we just try to forget" and Peeta says "I don't want to forget."
And I thought it was pretty funny, in a horrible way, that Seneca Crane was executed by being locked in a room with the poison berries.
|Katniss is looking fierce, as usual|
Oh, and one last thing, about the movie being faithful to the book. Obviously, the movie doesn't have every last detail that the book does. That just wouldn't be possible. And I thought they did a good job of capturing the overall feeling of the book, and all the most important plot points. I think even someone who hadn't read the books would enjoy and understand the movie.
I was a little upset that they cut Madge out. (In the movie, Katniss gets her Mockingjay pin from someone at the Hob, and then she gives it to Prim on reaping day, and then Prim gives it back to her as Katniss is being taken away.) I also wonder what they'll do about Madge in the later movies, since she's still part of the later books. I was also a little upset that the Peeta/Katniss conversation where Peeta is all "I want to be me" didn't take place on the roof, like it did in the books. I thought that would've looked really beautiful on screen. Finally, my only other complaint would be that sometimes the weird camera angles and choppy cuts bothered me. But sometimes they were cool, so it was alright.
Other than that, though, I thought it was a good adaptation and a really excellent movie. Go see it!!
Katniss Everdeen, THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIIIIIIIIRE!