So last something (far too long ago to have waited until now to post this), my nephew celebrated his 16th in full Hunger Games fashion. And when I say fashion, I mean Capitol fashion.
It was pretty boss. We played Capitol citizens, went out to watch the Games, then came back home to play our own. Oh, man, our Cornucopia/Bloodbath was boss, but sadly, I’m mostly here to talk about the movie. I know, I know, you’d rather hear about a boy’s birthday party than a review on a film you’re deciding whether to see or skip, but– maybe another time.
For now, the Cinema’s version of our beloved brutal books…
My Major Complaints:
1) Cinna. The man was too nice. Cinna’s rarity was in the fact that he recognized Katniss as a human being, not in being pleasant to her. Not that the book Cinna wasn’t kind, but they played kindness over the top, and it drowned out his subtle madness. Compare:
Movie Cinna: “I’m sorry this has happened to you.”
Book Cinna: *Long stare* “How despicable we must seem to you. No matter.”
It is the second fellow, the insightful eccentric, that made Cinna my favorite character.
2) Haymitch. Again, too bloody nice– and further, not nearly drunk enough. In the first half of the first scene, he seems like the Haymitch we know and mock, but then he goes into total helpful mode. They didn’t even highlight the transition. (This was an issue throughout– they failed to bring poignancy to half the poignant points in the book. They included them, but… glossily.)
Then, believe it or don’t, he goes on to show an obvious liking of Katniss. Where are the gruff bellows? Where are the declarations of the hopelessness of her charisma? The “Haymitch? He hates me!”
Lost– and a perfectly pleasant person in his place.
3) The Shaky Camera Effect. Ok, I get what they’re going for. It’s a valid effect… to a point, and they passed that point pretty quickly.
After a time, my brain stopped saying “Look! A realistic portrayal of befuddling action!” and started saying things like “Get a tri-pod!” and “Get an action-sequence choreographer!” and “Give my eyes something to latch onto before they go permanently unfocused!”
Come on, folks– it’s not like Collins didn’t give you some epic play-by-play to work with, here.
4) The ending. I don’t want to spoil too much, so I’ll just say this; I like where they chose to cut it, but it felt rushed and abrupt. I think they needed to take a little more time over the poignant points of the aftermath. I’m not talking about a ton, I’m saying 20-30 more seconds of screen time would have made the film 20-30% better.
My Major Accolades:
1) Katniss. The acting here was perfect. I heard some complaint somewhere, about Jennifer Lawrence showing no charisma. DUDE. KATNISS EVERDEEN HAS NO CHARISMA. It’s one of Haymitch’s biggest complaints about the girl. Lawrence portrayed what she was supposed to portray:
A girl who was concerned first and foremost with her sister (and any little girls like her), and second with living.
A girl, defined by her struggle to scrape out an existence for the both of them.
That same girl, thrust into a horrible and overwhelming experience.
That survivalist, who thought she couldn’t afford to think about making statements,going on to make the biggest statement in the history of the Hunger Games.
Lawrence captured every bit of that, and every hat on my hat shelf is off to her.
2) Peeta. Again, great acting. Some people don’t think Josh Hutcherson showed that illusive inner specialness of Peeta’s, but… Well, I see it. I think he got it.
Softly strong. Idealistic. Naturally charismatic. A sweetie. A… A really good person, you know?
I’m sorry we don’t also get to see “lovesick boy gets his bubble popped” at the end there, but I think that’s the scriptwriter’s fault, not the actor’s. Hoi, people! Give Hutcherson 10-15 more seconds, he won’t disappoint! As it was, he made the best of what he got.
3) The Reaping. Ok, I said something about them glossing over the poignant points in the book. Not so at the reaping. When they choose to focus on something, they do it right. The reaping was done justice, just sayin’.
They did a good job of building tension, they captured the awkwardness of Effie Trinket’s peppiness in contrast with the somber mood of the district, and they did a wonderful job of going into shock– Prim, Katniss, Peeta, they all captured the stunned, slightly out-of-body look of a lower-district tribute.
4) The Game Maker Angle. The dynamic between President Snow and Seneca Crane was something we didn’t get to see in the books, and it was danged awesome, getting to see it on screen. Added a bigger-picture angle to the piece that you don’t get in the books until Catching Fire.
And the Game Maker’s headquarters were boss, no denying that; another thing you didn’t get to see in the first-person narrative, and it lent a creepily clinical feel to the Games. Gave you a stronger sense of the tributes being toyed with.
And Seneca’s beard was utterly unmatchable. #CapitolFashionDo’s