Sunday, March 25, 2012

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

I am in The Hunger Games mode. I've spent days thinking, watching, reading, listening, and yes..even sleeping The Hunger Games. The problem is...I need to get back to work. And therefore, I think I need to upload some of these thoughts to my blog. I'm not a literary or movie critic, and I don't purport to be a HG expert. But this is what I have to say about The Hunger Games. 

I adored all 3 books. I first read them a little over a year ago. After I read them, I decided that my 11 year old son Nathan could read them, and I bought him the trilogy for his Kindle as well. He loved them as well! Then the slow and long countdown began for this year's movie. I knew that I wanted to see the movie, but as the time grew near, I decided that I'd see it alone at the midnight showing. (Well, the 12:06, to be exact.)

Heading into the weekend, I decided to reread the book and play the soundtrack into the ground. I listened to it practically on a continuous loop from Tuesday on :) I was simply abuzz with HG excitement. 

After watching the movie, I was very excited to see it again. Yesterday, I saw it again with Mr. G. After seeing it twice, here is how I feel about the movie. 

The thoughts are kind of stream of consciousness, so bear with the disorganization :)

I feel like the movie was expertly done. The cinematography was beautiful. The acting was amazing. The story was pure. I'm so pleased that Suzanne Collins had a writing credit and that her hand helped the movie follow the book closely. 

I missed words in the movie. I found it interesting that you didn't hear words like the seam, the hob, or tesserae. I felt like if you hadn't read the book, you may not have fully understood at first the mathematical details behind The Reaping. The contrast between Prim's name only being entered once, and Gale's name being entered 42 times, for instance, and how tesserae factors into that. I missed that there was no explanation of that. I think it is an important point to understand, because we can't comprehend the kind of hunger people in the district experience. 

I am curious how they are going to introduce Madge in movies 2 or 3 (if movies occur). With Madge not giving Kat the pin,  I wonder how they'll explain Madge's behavior and unlikely friendship in books 2 and 3. 

I liked the stark contrast of the lack of color in the clothing from District 12 to the outlandish clothing at The Capitol. 

This is a really little point, but Buttercup, the cat, was supposed to be yellow. Buttercup plays a slightly larger part than one scene in the 3rd book, so I wonder if they'll keep the same cat?

Visuals can be nice, because the "curtsy" that Katniss does for the Gamemakers is priceless!

I was surprised at the lack of music in the movie. After hearing the soundtrack so much, I couldn't help but notice how little of it was actually in the score. 

During the video shown at The Reaping, they speak of the past and show a treaty that would have been signed 74 years prior. It is written in calligraphy and had wax seals as though 74 years prior to present day would have been 1776. Such an odd little detail, but I thought it seemed like an anachronism.

I felt like the hallucination sequence did a really good job of telling the story of Katniss' father's mine accident, but I don't think the daydreaming sequence did an adequate job of telling the story of Peeta throwing Katniss the bread. When reading the words, you get that he knowingly burned the bread and accepted the violent punishment he'd receive for doing so, weighed that with his desire to help Katniss, and make that romantic and noble choice. It speaks so much of his character, and I felt like that was lost in the daydream sequence. Also, Kat was supposed to be 11 when that happened. She doesn't really look younger, and neither does Peeta.

The Capitol residents have an accent in the books, and I found it odd that they didn't keep that. Effie clearly has one, as does President Snow, but others did not.

I loved Cesar Flickerman. Stanley Tucci did such a good job!

Haymitch was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Originally I was disappointed that Hugh Laurie wasn't Haymitch, but Woody Harrelson did such a fantastic job with the role. 

Another one of my favorite moments in the movie was the poetic, creepy justice you see happen with Seneca Crane and the nightlock berries. They don't include that detail in the book, and I found it nice from a storytelling perspective.

In the general sense of things, I think they did a good job keeping the movie as minimally violent as possible. I thought the movie was more violent than the books, for sure. There's something about SEEING a child killing another child that is ridiculously heartbreaking. I think none of it was gratuitous or glorified, though.

Along the same lines, when I read the book, I was sad when Rue died. But seeing her die was worse. I cried. Both times :( 

Seeing Peeta camouflaged was more striking in the movie than anything I could have imagined in the book. It was one of my favorite clever and fun to see. 

They did a really good job of showing the love between Gale and Katniss, with so few words. In all of the cutaways Gale never says one word, but I think even the fact that he isn't watching the games when they commence speaks so much. Instead he's in the woods. Liam Hemsworth does such a good job acting with his eyes. 

The camerawork is intentionally shaky in spots. It helps to convey confusion and disorientation in spots, and in other spots it helps you not have to see the goriest parts of such a sad story. 

One of the most interesting things about the movie to me is that it is called The Hunger Games. But I saw the hunger part of their lives downplayed. You don't see Peeta and Katniss stuff themselves sick on the train. You don't see that soup was sold in The Hob filled with dog meat. I just don't think you understand what it is like in Distrct 12 unless you understand the desperation and starvation that occur there. 

There is a great lack of detail surrounding the mutts at the end of the movie. They were scary and all, but their origin has no story or history. The small puzzle pieces that are missing make me really just feel sorry for the viewers who don't read the book. I think the movie alone tells a good story, I just feel some smaller nuances get missed. Some of this is the nature of film. Telling a story visually is different, and I get that.

I missed the detail with the Avoxes. I'm curious how they'll handle it in the 2nd and 3rd movies, if the movies exist, that is :) (I really hope they do!) 

Hands down, one of the most chilling glimpses into the future, should they make more movies, is the scene with President Snow and Seneca Crane. I love President Snow's talk about the appropriate level of hope and his command of Seneca to contain the spark that Katniss is. The seeds of discontent that ultimately lead to the actions in Panem in books (and maybe movies) 2 and 3 are planted, and planted well, I believe. 

I thought Katniss showed more emotion in her face during The Reaping than the books says she showed. That being said, Jennifer Lawrence did an AMAZING job being emotive with her face! ONE look. One expression on her face, while she was facing Prim and her mother said from behind that she had put a dress out for Katniss on Reaping Day. That one look encompassed so much. The role reversal due to her mother's depression, her understandable distrust of her mother, her strong connection as a mother figure for Prim. Jennifer Lawrence did this in more than one scene. She had this particularly horrified look on her face during The Reaping and when arriving at the cornucopia. It spoke volumes. The scene between Cinna and Katniss before going into the arena, with her visible shaking, is award worthy and I hope she is recognized for her hard work. 

Overall, I give the movie a 10. It's one of my favorite books, favorite movies, and favorite adaptations I've ever seen. The movie stayed so true to the book, and it earns so much respect for doing so! I can't wait to learn if they'll do a second or third movie :) Until then, I guess my next countdown will be waiting to see when the DVD is released! :)


  1. I agree completely with everything! And while I could look at Gale/Liam all day and night, Team Peeta!

  2. Now you really make me want to read the book(s)! Gotta check if they have it at my library!

  3. I completely agree with your review. Another thing that bummed me out was the ending. I don't think they portrayed how much Katniss realizes she is in big trouble and that her whole family and district are in jeapordy and how much she has to play the star-crossed lover role after the games are over. Other than that though, I think the movie was excellent. I want to see it again too.

  4. This is really profound, Lena. I think I need a few days to digest what you've written. So very well thought out and it really gave me things to look for when watching the movie, I don't feel as anything was spoiled, but rather gave me a good mindset to go watch.

    You're a very, very smart girl and you SHOULD be a critic. I was engrossed in your words.


  5. I agree with so much of what you say here. My reply is going to be disorganized rambling. Buttercup, surely there is a yellow cat with mad acting skillz out there! At one point I did think, hey, there is not much music here. Every time an Avox appeared on screen I was waiting for something to happen with the Avox but I can understand why they didn't get into the Avox story. I really liked the scene with Seneca Crane and the berries. I also liked the scene with Haymitch schmoozing to get sponsors; I think that helped show how he was working to help Katniss and Peeta since we couldn't get her thoughts about it like we could in the book. I thought the Peeta bread flashback was the worst part. They should have used younger actors I think to show that their connection went back to when they were young. I doubt people who didn't read the book would fully understand what that was all about. It did bother me how Katniss got the Mockingjay pin. You are so right about the words like hob, tesserae not being in the movie. Yes, Liam Hemsworth said so much with just his face. For some strange reason, I was really looking forward to seeing the Cornucopia and was disappointed by how industrial it looked. I was expecting something magnificent lol.

  6. Excellent commentary Lena. I love your writing style. You write opinions without too many spoilers for those of us who haven't seen it yet. Thank you! Loved reading this!

  7. Wonderful, wonderful review Lena! And how eloquently you stated everything! I totally agree. And I am with you on the bread flashback sequence. I think that it almost showed Peeta in a bad light. That he helped her more intentionally in the book than the movie. I was confused as to why they did that.

  8. Wonderful, wonderful blog post and review, Lena! And so eloquently stated. I agree completely. And I am with you on the bread flashback sequence. It almost showed Peeta in a bad light. It is like he helped her more intentionally in the book than in the movie. I was confused as to why they did that.