Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie review: The Hunger Games

This weekend everybody and their brother went to see The Hunger Games, based on their record-breaking opening weekend sales.  I joined the crowd, and I thought it was pretty darn good, actually.

Some background: I read The Hunger Games back when it was just starting to be cool, before either of the sequels had been released, and when the whole world was crazy over Twilight.  I liked The Hunger Games better than Twilight -- still do.  It has a little more substance (though both books are basically leisure reads), and the characters are a lot more interesting.  Katniss, in particular, has her flaws, but at least she does stuff.  When I read the books, I thought that they had the potential to be mega-bestsellers, and I'm glad to see that their movies (or at least the first one) are doing them justice.

So, the movie . . .

I thought the casting was excellent.  Usually, when I watch a movie based on a book that I like, there are those moments of disconnect where I think, that's not how that character should look.  I didn't have those moments with The Hunger Games.  Sure, there were small differences -- but I thought that, in general, the casting choices in this movie fit both the descriptions from the books, and the way my own imagination had interperted them.  The tributes, including Katniss and Peeta, but also Thresh, Rue, Cato, and the fox-faced girl all looked just right to me.  Moreover, the acting was superb -- I was particularly impressed with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch,  Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (my favorite character from the books), and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. 

With the author on board as one of the screenwriters, the movie was bound to stay close to the book.  I also think that the Hunger Games series was written in a style to make it easily adaptable to the big screen.  There were a few changes, but none that really bothered me.  One fairly large change was the riot in District 11.  In the book, they sent bread to Katniss, but in the book, it was easy to explain how unusual -- actually, unheard-of -- it was for a district to send a gift to another district's tribute.  The riot as a substitute makes sense, but it also makes for a scene that they will have to top in the next book as the political elements heat up.  I'm not sure how much difficulty people who haven't read the book will have in following the film, but it seemed to me that it hit all of the main points.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie, will probably buy it when it comes out on DVD, and I look forward to the release of Catching Fire in November 2013.

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