Well, friends, I had the thrilling experience of being invited to a screening of the Hunger Games movie in LA today, and I am here to tell you, it did not disappoint. But before I get into a movie review, can I just say how much I loved the comments on yesterday’s post? It’s so fascinating to see how differently people interpreted the book, the ending, and the motivations of the characters Plus, it’s comforting to know that there are a whole bunch of other women in a similar lifestage geeking out over this series. I must admit, I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I finished the last book. I became so engrossed in the story and the characters that I was really sad when I was done with the series, so I went into the movie excited to get involved in the story again. For me, the movie was everything I hoped it would be. I am the type of reader who tends to skim over descriptive parts of a book. I’m not particularly imaginative in my own head, and I get so focused on the human drama that I often impatiently skim over descriptions of scenery or other visuals. Seeing the movie played out on screen brought so many details to life that I missed in the book. The scenery and costumes were really spectacular. They were both particularly effective in showing the contrast between District 12 and The Capitol. District 12 felt stark and cold, with the characters in clothing that were reminiscent of the depression era. Once the action moved to The Capitol, though, the movie really was a feast for the eyes. The food, the clothing, the makeup . . . all of it was so over-the-top and so carefully detailed. It was like Lady Gaga puked over an entire city, and it was the perfect way to highlight the privilege and excess of The Capitol. And the casting . . . oh my word. I really did feel like the casting was pitch-perfect for nearly every character. Katniss was strong and likeable. I loved that this actress was not stick-thin, and I felt she did a great job of portraying Katniss’s inner monologue. Stanley Tucci was spot-on as the clownish celebrity interviewer who knew how to manipulate his audience as well as his subject. I also loved Elizabeth Banks as the self-absorbed Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as the drunk-yet-endearing Haymitch. Lenny Kravitz was great as Cinna, and the little girl who played Primm was absolutely adorable. As a whole, I felt the movie was very well acted, and quite an improvement over the acting in a certain other young-adult trilogy that was adapted for film, if you catch my drift. Also, fair warning. If you’ve declared yourself Team Peeta, that might just change upon seeing the actors playing the male leads. I think Gale may have an unfair advantage here. The movie adaptation works very well, for many of the same reasons the book was so compelling. The first half of the movie is about setting up the characters and understanding their motivations. The action doesn’t really start until the games begin, which is nearly halfway into the movie. From that point on, the movie switches from a character-driven drama to a high-paced thriller, and the pace doesn’t slow until the end. I’m not a fan of on-screen violence and if you know the story at all, you know that this is an inevitable aspect of the movie. I felt like it was handled well, without being gratuitous. I wouldn’t take young children to the movie, but I would think that any child old enough to enjoy the series could handle the movie scenes as well. I was pretty riveted for the entre movie, and the end definitely left me looking forward to the next installment. I think Hunger Games fans will be pleased with the movie, but I also think it stands on its own. It has all of the elements of a great film: a love triangle, ethical dilemmas, well-drawn characters, and plenty of action that appeal to the guy you drag to see it with you. Under the surface, though, I think the story of the Hunger Games is really an exploration of human nature . . . of war, of privilege, and of love. I think it’s a modern-day allegory of the danger of greed and a society lacking in empathy. The movie will entertain, but it will also leave you thinking . . . and to me, that’s the best kind of cinematic experience.
It’s almost a little embarrassing to admit how engrossed I got in the Hunger Games book series. I suppose it would be slightly less embarrassing if the series were in a section other than “young adult literature” . . . but I’m comforted with the knowledge that I am not the only 30-something who went off the deep end for a few days, not sleeping and ignoring my children to finish these books. I can’t remember the last time I was so obsessed with the book that I was willing to forego sleeping, eating, and basic hygiene to keep reading. (Okay, yes, I CAN remember the last time I did that, and it’s equally embarrassing. Team Edward.) Anyways. Did you read it? Did you love it? Are there things you need to process with a group of like-minded people? Well, here’s your place.
Disclosure: I’m about to give away major plot points, so if you haven’t read the books and don’t want to hear about the ending, LOOK AWAY! Go read this blog making fun of crazy things on pinterest. Like this:
Click here to read the rest of this post, but only read on if you’ve read all three books or don’t care if you learn the ending.
HUNGER GAMES SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! PEOPLE READING IN GOOGLE READER, AVERT YOUR EYES!
Alright – about the books. I truly loved them and initially, I was really satisfied with the ending . . . but probably because I was Team Peta and appreciated that we weren’t left hanging about what happened to both of them. However, after a day or two I started mulling it over, and felt a little disappointed that the ending was so rushed. It almost felt as though the author just gave up or got tired towards the end, and threw together a quick ending. I found it odd that so much of the action of the ending took place “off-screen” For example, the trial that we learn about after the fact . . . why wasn’t that written out? Or Gale . . . he was a major character and we just get a paragraph about what happened to him? So I’ll admit, the ending left me wanting a bit, and I have some hope that the movie will provide a bit more closure.
I was also not thrilled with the way Katniss was left alone at the end of the book. She was basically a hero who saved her generation from the likely tyrannical rule of Coin, and yet she’s left alone with a drunk and a guy who tried to kill her twice? Why didn’t Gale or her mother check in on her?
My biggest curiosity, though, is a part of the book that Mark and I interpreted very differently. (That’s right. Mark read the whole series too. There was about a week there where CPS probably could have laid claim to our children for neglect, because the two of us were so addicted to these books). Anyways, towards the end, there is a scene where the Hunger Games contestants who survived meet with Coin, and she makes them vote on whether or not they should hold more Hunger Games as a punishment for The Capitol. Peeta votes against it, which is consistent with his character, but Katniss votes for it. Why does she do this?? When I first read the book, my assumption was that she did it as a ploy to stay on Coin’s good side, so that she would have the opportunity to take her down. But Mark (and many others I’ve spoken to) thought that it was her true vote . . . that it signified a breakdown in her own moral compass after having been through so much. Mark felt it illustrated man’s propensity towards revenge in the face of grief. Honestly, I feel like that interpretation really changes the book and the character for me.
So, what do you think? Was Katniss’s vote an attempt to keep Coin appeased so she could have time to enact her revenge on Coin? Or had Katniss been through so much that she was willing to place other children in the same horrific situation? And how does her motive here change the ending and moral of the book?