Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Review by ChristineMM

I've read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, as has my fourteen year old. My eleven year old was creeped out by the plotline and stopped reading the books. You have to admit it's a pretty grim movie. The books are for the young adult genre, but my son thought he wanted to read it since so many kids he knew had read the trilogy and loved it.

(The plot is very similar to an episode of the TV sci fi drama Sliders from 1996 "Rules of the Game", a show I watched back when it was on prime time. I was also reminded of Stephen King's "The Running Man". I have heard it is like the book "Battle Royale" but I have not read that book.)

Today I saw The Hunger Games movie with my kids. We saw it on opening day in XD, which is on a large screen with digital high definition visuals and with enhanced surround sound. The XD was excellent.

We all enjoyed the movie. (Although I normally don't let my kids see the movie until they read the book I was faced with a decision with our schedule. We saw this mid-day on a weekday and I wasn't about to leave my younger son home alone while I saw the movie with just my older son.)

I had worried about how the movie producers would fit in everything but it was done fairly well. What gets lost in translation is some emotion such as really getting a sense for the dire straits that every District is in, we get just a sense for District 12 being full of hungry dirty people living in shacks and flickers of the fact that they are a mining community. The relationship between Gale and Katniss is barely evident, shown primarily by longing looks by Gale throughout the movie rather than setting it up clearly at the beginning.

It's a gory concept, to murder off fellow kids and teens in a game of sport in a no choice "kill or be killed" scenario. I was glad for the blurry fast action shots of the kills and for the lack of pure gore. This is far more tame than the slasher horror films I watched while in my teen years. The scenes of personal injury were detailed enough, and the acting was very good, so we felt empathy when the characters we like and care about suffer. That is an important feature, for me. This isn't the stuff of horror movie gore, to get scared and surprised then see lots of blood and guts, this is suspenseful story that ends often with death, unfortunately.

The action running scenes were done well to give us a sense for what it's like to be hunted not only by fellow Tributes but also by the Gamemaker. I was a bit surprised at how the major focus on the killings and loving the game was shown with the Gamemaker and his staff, it made the kids who killed each other pale in comparision, cruelty-wise. I don't recall having such a strong feeling when reading the book. It helped me feel empathetic toward all the Tributes and made me hate The Capitol and their Hunger Games even more than hating the actual Tribute murderers.

Key parts to the book were all here, and the scene with Rue's passing was done in good taste and made me cry (as did the book).

We have hints that the districts are not happy with The Capitol for this disgusting game in which their children are murdered off. The movie set this up well, we long for the sequel, sooner rather than later, please. If anyone has not yet read the books, but plans to see the movie, I implore you to try to read the book first. But if you saw the movie first, do go back and read the book. Then go on and read the whole trilogy. It will keep you satisfied until Hollywood gets around to making the other two movies.

I was very pleased with the acting of Katniss, Peeta, Rue, and Gale. The screenwriters and directors did their job well to get us to like them and to root for them. This is good storytelling, a hero's journey tale. This first installment just gives a peek at the corruption and sick nature of the government. There is more to come in books two and three.

The action kept moving along. It is over two hours long but didn't feel that long. The backstory leading up to the start of the actual Hunger Games was necessary. Although I was never bored in that lead-up, once the games began it felt like we'd been strapped into a roller coaster ride that kept us rivoted until the very end. It was so good, I didn't want to get out of my seat when it was over, and nearly everyone in the theatre was slow to rise out of their seat as well.

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If you are a Kindle reader, Amazon has a great price on the trilogy.

1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

We also saw the movie today. Nate and I were in Albuquerque where he had an orientation at the Community College that he is going to attend next fall. He had not read the book and I had. Both of us thought the movie was excellent and it definitely leaves one wanting more. I thought it was an excellent book adaptation, although it did depart from the book in a few significant ways.