The Hunger Games premiered in cinemas this past weekend, pulling in a staggering $155 million domestically. After seeing it twice, I'm ready to deliver the verdict. I realize this makes me sound a bit obsessive, but in my cinephile family we're very much into repeat viewings. And the verdict is...
Well done! Very well done!
I admit I felt nothing but trepidation leading up to the movie's release. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I'm still astounded the Twilight films managed to turn poorly written books into movies that somehow surpassed their source material in pure awfulness -- leading me to suspect all YA adaptations were a train wreck waiting to happen. I also worried about the complications that come from translating a futuristic sci-fi novel to the big screen. Would the movie come out looking like a low-budget Star Trek? Suffice it to say, these and other concerns forbade me from anticipating the film with any sense of excitement.
I was, therefore, thrilled to find that The Hunger Games impressed me much more than I thought it would. Indeed, I enjoyed it as much, if not more, upon a second viewing. Is it perfect? No. I don't think any adaptation can be. But all around, Lionsgate succeeded in producing a film that is a credit to the book which inspired it.
The Hunger Games sets itself apart from other teen films by casting young soon-to-be stars with the acting chops demanded by their rigorous roles. Katniss is not an easy part to play. She's prickly and not the most demonstrably emotional girl; much of the what the reader knows about her is gleaned through internal dialogue. Yet Jennifer Lawrence blew me away with her performance. Physically speaking, she's doesn't strictly follow the description of Katniss Collins provides, but I don't think they could have found another young actor who embodied the character like she did. The entire film is hinged upon her performance, and she carries it off nicely. I was also pleased by Josh Hutcherson's portrayal of Peeta, and while we haven't yet seen much from Liam Hemsworth as Gale, he didn't bother me like I thought he would. (He's primarily known for starring in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation with Miley Cyrus. Can you blame my skepticism?)
An array of better known adult actors fill in the cast of minor characters. I was particularly impressed by Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci who play Effie Trinket (fantastically clad in neo-Victorian clothing) and Games host Caesar Flickerman, respectively. Both provide nice comic relief in what is an otherwise bleak narrative. My main complaint with the movie is the casting of Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. The District 12 stylist is one of my favourite characters, but he's subtle and nuanced. They needed an actor, not a has-been musician, to adequately convey Cinna's depth.
Finally, I wanted to point out that the violence was handled well by the filmmakers. It never felt gratuitous. Hand-held shots during action sequences prevent the audience from seeing anything in graphic detail, but it was enough to express the horror of the situation. I, for one, was filled with nothing but repulsion that such young defenseless children were subjected to such a fate.
In short, I heartily recommend The Hunger Games to any fan of Suzanne Collins's trilogy. I'll be looking forward to the next installment! May the odds be ever in your favor, and Happy Hunger Games!
Waiting for the movie to start
My mum is looking peeved, because my dad leaked a major
spoiler from book three (she's only read the first two)
And I am looking happy because I won
a ten dollar giftcard to the cinema at our private screening
The odds were in my favor!
Have you seen The Hunger Games yet? What did you like about it? What do you think they could have done better? I'd love to hear your thoughts!