Yesterday I partook, along with millions of other right-minded people, with The Hunger Games Movie. Sitting still, sporting my Mockingjay pin, two and a half hours passed by effortlessly.
What follows is this obsessed fans SPOILER FILLED review of the movie.
The overall story from the book by Suzanne Collins is intact and every characterization is exact. Jennifer Lawrence brings all of our hopes and dreams about Katniss to life, erasing any doubts we had of her and this central role. All the inner monologue peppered throughout the book are made reality by Jennifer’s eyes, face, and body movement. A sharp tone to her mother for just a moment crystallizes that entire relationship. Volumes are projected by Jennifer Lawrence at all times. We have found Katniss. Long may she reign.
I wanted to start off the top with this absolute best part of The Hunger Games, which is the aforementioned Jennifer Lawrence, and then chronicle all the other segments and themes and thoughts that struck me. The joy that filled me with Haymitch bringing all his drunken bluster and slovenly habits to life was palpable to me. Every utterance of “Sweetheart,” with all his sarcasm and endearment flowing out was just heavenly. And Cinna made me sad. He dies, Effie lives, what kind of sick universal joke is that? Maybe the next movie will change that future fate.
Which plunges us into the controversy some people have when new scenes are inserted into movie adaptations. Two major additions are featured which serve to answer some long standing fan questions. Peeta shows off his strength skill in front of the Tributes, impressing them enough to allow his entrance into their future Cabal. A question now resolved. Also, the earlier inclusion of Rue in the training sequences much more solidifies the later parts between the characters. All the better for our enjoyment.
And one of the most enjoyable (??) and faithful scenes from the book, and the one that causes me to cringe massively is the Trackerjacker part. For the record, I hate bees. They are one of the banes of my existence. The Dr Who episode from years back with the Giant Bee still fills me with dread. Hence the Trackerjacker horror played out before my eyes, causing slight disturbances in my breathing and heart rate. Thankfully we soon moved onto the hallucinations. That I can live with.
This brings up one of the cornerstones of concern over The Hunger Games. Yes, it is violent. Unapologetically violent. Bloody and brutally violent. And that is how it should be. One of the major themes involves this senseless slaughter and I am thankful for it’s inclusion in the film. The Capitol is unmitigatingly evil for it’s propagating of this “tradition.” To try to erase this factor is much like deleting Alderaan’s destruction from Star Wars simply to make the Empire less evil. News Flash: President Snow is Evil, as is the Emperor. Both advocated and ordered the wholesale massacre of children. The violence has a purpose in this story and must be seen in all it’s nastiness and ugliness.
All this brutality is just one of a variety of social issues touched upon in this movie. Virtually all of Suzanne Collins pet causes from the first book are detailed here. Senseless killings for no reason, the disparity of rich and poor, a sheeplike populace who accept depraved conditions, art as a weapon for peace, and how images designed to placate people are celebrated, are just some of the issues explored. Just like the book, many a social issues discussion can be ignited by The Hunger Games. The concept of Career Tributes alone can engender multiple historical lessons, stretching from the 1960’s to the 1990’s and beyond. Dan Quayle as Vice-President perfectly illustrates the absurdity of this practice.
With all this praise, I do Unfortunately harbour slight quibbles with the movie. Two minor bits, one involves the Cornucopia which looks like a rejected Logan’s Run prop, and the other relates to the cheesy special effects for the Chariot parade complete with extremely fake looking flames. A more major sticking point is the exclusion of the bread gift from District 11. It is the impetus for the coming revolution, but instead of trusting the audience to “get it,” we are instead spoon fed the same point. The Hunger Games is not about spelling it out, subtlety is more of Suzanne Collins style.
This leads to my one overwhelming disappointment, and that is with almost every aspect of Rue’s Lullaby. Why, in the name of Haymitch’s sobriety, did they not include the full song? My disappointment with this integral emotional passage was palpable. It felt rushed and incomplete and a totally wasted opportunity to showcase the humanity of this senseless death. I may be in the minority here, but I was hoping and wishing for better.
Even with these reservations, my unbridled enthusiasm for The Hunger Games movie is still ever present and multiple viewing are in the foreseeable future. Followed down the line by lovingly joining my dvd collection. My thumbs up was not agreed upon by everyone present. I saw The Hunger Games with my wife who was very split on it and had not read the books, and our friend Ainslie who actually thought it missed the point and she had read the books. Two very different perspectives, with differing exposure to the source material, not in agreement with each other. My impassioned arguments to them in defense of the movie fell on deaf ears. The obvious merits of the adaptation were lost on these plebians.
Even now the next day I am tempted to ask Katniss to try to convince these Capitol lackeys the error of their ways. After all…
She Came. She Saw. She Instigated A Revolution!!
P.S. All The Hunger Games images are copyright 2012 to Lions Gate.
P.P.S. To read my review of the first The Hunger Games book, click here.