Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Hunger Games: The Movie

I feel a little like Yogurt w/ that post title.  "Coming soon: Hunger Games, the Breakfast Cereal!  Hunger Games, the Baby Outfit!  Hunger Games, the Toilet Paper!   Moichandizing, Moichandizing!"

Anyway, on a great new Duke board I've been posting on, Duke Blue Crazies, one of the posters asked if the movie was true to the books.  It was a good as reason as any for me to give my "review" of the film, which is based on my favorite book of recent years.  Check it out below the fold:

Saw the movie and have read all three books. Absolutely loved the books. Whether it was true to the books is a little tricky.

From a plot structure standpoint, I'd say 95% yes. The feel was very different, though. As mentioned, the book is from Katniss' POV, and heavy on her internal dialogue. I think they made a mistake with the movie when they opted to have NO narration. I think these writers bought into the idea that it was a challenge to convey Katniss' interior life through external actions, words, and settings. But they gave up a lot. Especially since the main character is incredibly damaged emotionally, but also very tough--she's Spartan in what she reveals of her pain. Hence, when the character is acted correctly, the audience doesn't see the main storyline of the books, which was her internal conflict.

My main complaints in what they lost by forgoing narration:

1) There's no hunger in the movie version of the Hunger Games. In the book, her thoughts are obsessed with drinking and eating. Hunting's not a past time. Even though she kills plenty of food by district 12, she's still underfed and hungry all the time. People starve to death in the district all the time. They try to honor this in the film with a few early shots of wispy looking kids in the district, the goat guy with the animal bones at his feet, Rue's reluctance to take the whole groosling from Katniss, but it's not the same. If you just watched the movie, you'd think, "OK, these guys have a lot, and these guys not so much." But the description of the gnawing, visceral hunger is what makes the Capitol's opulence so disgusting and hard to stomach.

2)  The other thing is the frenetic pace of the movie.  Maybe the best thing about the book is the pacing. You never want to put it down, but it's not nonstop action. In the book, Kat's biggest occupation was worrying--would she find water/food, who was coming for her, would she see Peeta again, etc. In the movie, it's one confrontation after the next. Again, without monologue there's not much else to do (well, in Cast Away they managed to build tension without dialogue or action, but they didn't even try here).

The minor discrepancies from the book in terms of casting Cinna, hovercrafts, death scenes, Muttations, etc. didn't bother me too much.  Actually thought Lenny Kravitz was great as Cinna (as was most of the cast in the smaller roles--Sutherland, Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks stood out), and some of the other points of departure just involved shots that would have been too difficult/expensive to recreate.

The movie stands on its own and is very entertaining. Jennifer Lawrence is the best thing about it. She plays Katniss perfectly. And the story itself is still interesting, even without all of Katniss' internal struggle being fleshed out.

P.S. Goodfellas was on cable a couple nights ago, and I was thinking to myself, "now here's a movie that does narration well." It's surprising how much narration Henry Hill does in the film.


ManBeast said...


Fredo said...

What'd you take an extra snark pill today?

ManBeast said...

Double dose


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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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