The Hunger Games

I was looking for something to watch on Netflix today, and to my surprise The Hunger Games movie was listed as I was scrolling through all of the available movies, and I enjoyed the books quite a bit, so I figured I’d check out the movie.

Fair warning, I’m going to spoil parts of the movie and quite possibly the second and third books in the series.  But at this point the books have been out for years and the movie has been out long enough for it to be on Netflix, and there is a statute of limitations for spoiling things.  If you don’t want to know anything about the story, then stop here, go read the books, and then come back and read this.  Anyway, on we go.

My first thought as I watched the credits roll was how accurate the movie was to the book.  There were a couple of subtle differences, but overall I think it was quite good.  My second thought is that it was too long for my taste.  The books were incredibly quick reads, I think I finished each of the individual books within a day or so, but the movie just seemed a bit long for me.  As I say that, I don’t really know what you could cut from the movie.  There was a little bit of unnecessary exposition in the beginning, but what was there worked to set up the movie for people who aren’t familiar with the story.  There was also a fair bit of foreshadowing for the remainder of the series, and that’s always good to see.

The next thing to get to of course is the cast.  I thought all of the actors/actresses were quite good.  Jennifer Lawrence was solid as Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson was decent as Peeta.  But overall I think the best acting in the movie was done by the side characters.  Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were fantastic as Haymitch and Cinna respectively.  But overall I think the most effective of the side characters was President Snow, he had very little screen time, but was able to effectively show just how evil the people from the capital are described as.  I don’t really remember him at all from the first book (granted it’s been 3 years or so since I’ve read the books) but he made the movie for me.

Very quickly I have to talk about the soundtrack, it’s very subtle, but quite good.  One of the best things about the soundtrack is that it stays out of the way.  The entirety of the soundtrack was instrumental, the only time there were words being sung was when the characters within the movie were singing.  There were also some neat things done with the audio in the movie as well.  There is a short point where Katniss is hallucinating, and during this scene they do some fun things with the sound.  There is also a section in the book where Katniss’s hearing is damaged, and for a short time there’s almost no sound as her ears are still ringing.  I don’t know if they did this because I was watching it on my laptop, but it would have been interesting in the theaters if they lowered the volume from the left side speakers for the rest of the movie after that.  (Or whichever side was the ear she lost hearing in, I’m pretty sure it was the left, but again it’s been 3 years.)

So initial thoughts, cast, audio, time for visual.  There were a lot of interesting visual aspects to the movie, most notable was the contrast between District 12 and the Capital, especially with the ways the characters were dressed.  I know that the book described the people in the Capital as being very strangely dressed in all sorts of odd hues, and the movie exceeded my expectations in that sense.  All of the set designs were well done, and it worked out well.

And now for my one major complaint about the movie, the cinematography.  While I haven’t gone to see many movies in theaters in the past several years, I do read about movies fairly often, and one thing that I’ve heard is a trend in a lot of movies these days is the use of shaky cam, or the lack of using a tripod to steady the camera.  In the action scenes in the second half of the movie, it wasn’t too bad, but when they use it early on in the movie it does nothing but take away from the foundation of the movie.  Basically, when you notice the camera, it’s a bad thing, and the shaky cam during the first half of the movie was far too noticeable and annoying.

One part of the story that didn’t quite work for me was Katniss’s side of her relationship with Peeta.  Peeta does a good job of showing that he really cares for Katniss, but without hearing Katniss’s thoughts it was kind of hard to tell that she was playing the part instead of actually falling for Peeta.  It’s a minor quibble in what was overall a solid movie.

Overall Grade

Nothing that blew me away, and there were a few small things that annoyed me, but overall it’s a solid movie that was very faithful to the book.

8/10

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4 Comments

  1. Nice review, Adam. I was so irritated by the hype when the movie came out (a trailer during the Super Bowl? Come on!) that I didn’t watch it until I was riding an airplane last summer. I also thought it was a well done adaptation with a fine performance by Jennifer Lawrence. Overall, I thought many of the arena scenes were nicely imagined, and I forgave the production company for their Super Bowl spot.

    Reply
    • I don’t remember there being an ad during the Super Bowl, but there was an awful lot of hype around the movie. (I wish there was as much hype around the books, but it’s just not the world we live in.) I don’t go to see movies often, and I’m kind of glad that I waited to watch in on Netflix, but it was a solid movie.

      Reply
  2. hannahrose42

     /  May 5, 2013

    I agree with just about everything here, including the fact that I HATE SHAKY CAM. The beginning of the film was awful — I was immediately turned off and brought outside of the world. Once past the exposition, however, I loved it. My favorite addition they made was showing some details of the Game makers and how they could add in animals and elemental attacks to the Games. It sold the point that the Games were totally barbaric against the districts. It was an enjoyable film, and I’m pretty excited to see Catching Fire when it comes to theaters.

    Reply
    • I agree that the games were shown to be barbaric, I think the scenes with President Snow emphasized that (particularly his line about how having a winner gives the districts hope). I don’t know if I’ll go to see Catching Fire in theaters, but I’ll definitely check it out eventually.

      Reply

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