Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Review of Hunger Games: The Movie

So over the weekend, I went to see The Hunger Games. I'd read the book and reviewed it. I was optimistic about the movie because the book is an adventure story that would translate well to screen. It may be told in first person present tense, but that's to make the action more immediate. Sure, things about Katniss' personality would be lost with the transfer to screen, but with the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, I thought she would communicate Katniss' instinctive distrust of others well. I greatly admired her performance in Winter's Bone and think that was the role that got her chosen for Katniss.

Overall, the movie was good. I'm glad I went to see it. Will I trek out to the movie theater to see the second one? Probably not. I will rent it on DVD and enjoy it in my home. I don't go to the movies a lot. I prefer to watch DVDs. The movie has to be really special for me to make the effort to go out of my way. Johnny Depp basically can get my butt in a theater but not much else. (And OMG, I saw the trailer for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, and it looks like it will be a hoot. I may be going to the theaters again sooner than I thought.)

Getting back to the movie that I'm supposed to be reviewing, I thought this was a good adaptation. The script changes minor things. Some minor characters are not included, but it is understandable, and I liked the color commentary during the Hunger Games which wasn't possible in the book due to the narrative constraints. Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Caesar and bless them for keeping Caesar's hair blue. It was almost like I pictured it. (I pictured it a little more poofy.)

As for the two young male leads, Gale doesn't have a very big role in this installment so the actor didn't make much of an impression. I can't say yay or nay on him. The young man playing Peeta was very good. I was especially impressed with his interview scene with Caesar. I think he did a good job.

As for the adults, I already said Tucci was good. Elizabeth Banks was unrecognizable in her makeup, and I think her costumes and makeup helped her as much as her acting. She certainly stood out as Effie Trinket. The makeup people really deserve praise for her. The lipstick and fake eyelashes in this movie were unbelievably creative. I'm not up on current fashion, but if fancy eyelashes weren't hip before, I think they will be now. When Woody Harrelson was announced to play Haymitch, I believe the general consensus was he would be wonderful in the role, and the general consensus was correct. In fact, I think I like Haymitch more now after seeing Woody in the role. He'll be who I picture when I finally read Mockingjay. The fact is, I didn't really care for Haymitch in the books, I wasn't drawn to him. He had no charisma in the text, but Woody brings that and I think it was a quality Haymitch needed.

One complaint I have is the director's use of shaky camera motion and quick cuts to establish locations. This is very prevalent at the beginning of the film and made me groan. I whispered to my friend sitting beside me that I hoped the whole movie wasn't like that, and I'm not one to notice direction much, especially on first watch. After the movie, another friend complained of the closeups on mouths and faces. We often didn't get a good look at a scene because we were zoomed in on someone's lips. She wondered why they built impressive sets if they were only going to show them for five seconds.  I did notice this at one point briefly because the camera seemed to be having trouble keeping up with two people having a conversation. It seemed sloppy.

So overall, the actors were good, the adaptation was good, the sets and costumes were good, but the direction was a little lacking. I'd give the movie a letter grade of B. It would take an A grade to get me back in the theater to see the sequel, but I doubt my absence in the theater will hurt the profits much for the sequel. It is guaranteed to be a success.


Rob Lear said...

Hi Miss Hunter
Loved Unicorn Bait, I hope it gets as big as hunger games. I went to see Hunger games rather reluctantly with my daughter who is a big fan. She wanted to go with me and not her friends and i could not let her down. I must say i rather enjoyed it. I must have been watching at the same moment you were, when i started complaining about the directors jerky camera and zip-cuts only to be told to be quiet by my daughter.
I did not know she was the actress from Winters Bone, a brilliant performance. My daughter Lucy gave me a copy of The Hunger Games to read but i read your Unicorn Bait first and shocked her speechless when i told her i enjoyed your book more. I am in the porcess of writing my first fantasy novel for Kindle. I have spent the last 16 years bringing up my 3 kids on my own, and only now have the time to start my lifes dream of writing the many novels i have waiting be created.
Looking forward to the sequal.
Rob Lear

S.A. Hunter said...


Sounds like Lucy and her siblings are very lucky kids. I'm glad you enjoyed Unicorn Bait. I don't think it's better than Hunger Games, but thank you for compliment ;-) Good luck on your writing! Writing is tough work. Remember to have fun!

John Tansey said...

Hi, Stephanie:
I enjoyed your review of Hunger Games. I too thought the hand-held camera shakiness was a distraction. I also thought the movie was just too long. But I enjoyed it and was glad I went with the Sfi-Fi group to see it.

S.A. Hunter said...


I'm glad we all went to see the movie, too! I was surprised by how long it was, too, but it seems like they're taking a page from the Harry Potter playbook - Put as much of the book on screen as possible, which can be good or bad. I think they adapted it pretty well overall. Still don't think I'll go to the theater to see the sequel.

John said...

Hmmm... A sequel. Yeah, I don't know about seeing that too. The new theater at Stonefields, though... I'm just sorry it won't be ready for the prequel to 'Alien'.

S.A. Hunter said...

I don't know if I want to see Prometheus. The Alien Saga was all about Ripley for me.