Hunger Games Movie Review
So, I haven't read The Hunger Games trilogy or even the Wikipedia page. But, when asked, I agreed to watch an opening day showing of the feature film. And I enjoyed it!
Like any opening day, there were your hardcore fans. I saw at least one girl with Katniss' braid and there were themed t-shirts everywhere. They applauded the kiss (spoiler!) and the end of the movie, but at least they didn't scream when the lights went down...(Twilight premiere that I was dragged to, I am looking at you!).
The book cover versus the movie poster.
Now, if you're not familiar with the series (where have you been?), the first book follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who lives in District 12— the country has been split into 12 different Districts. District 12 is a mining District and, I imagine, other Districts specialize in other things. Every year, the Capitol (the rich, technologically advanced centre of this world) demands one girl and one boy from each District, chosen through a lottery of individuals between 12 and 18 years old. It brings to mind Theseus and the Minotaur's myth, especially since these 24 young people are sent to the Capitol to take part in televised gladiatorial games, with only one victor.
The book is touted as "post-apocalyptic" and when I hear "post-apocalyptic," I think of zombies or Mad Max, not gladiators and kids. But within the movie, the post-apocalyptic nature is almost non-existent and the styling comes across as something set in a 1940s mining town, rather than the future. But it worked, especially in comparison to the rich opulence of the Capitol, which is all about more colours, more makeup, more food, and more, more, more.
Effie from the Capitol and Katniss from District 12.
I really loved the visual style of the Capitol— it's so rich and overwhelming and the shaky, buzzing camera style used when Katniss is overwhelmed (during the Reaping and later in the "Thunder Dome," so to speak) is a great way to show the audience how much there is to see while at the same time conveying how difficult it would be to take anything in. It was a bit much in the very beginning when I was still getting used to sitting in front of a giant theatre screen, but I could see how it was an asset to the storytelling.
And for all that I was a little lost at the beginning of the movie, without knowledge of the history behind the events (and I was lost), I was surprised by how hard my heart was pounding during the Reaping scene and that, to me, shows how understandable and relatable a character Katniss is. I know that I would have gotten more out of the movie if I'd had the background given in the books and the detail of the character's thoughts, motivations, and actions, but I was definitely swept along into the action, the desperation, and the fight for survival.
Although I don't think that she's using the bow correctly—shouldn't you sight along the arrow, for better accuracy?
Katniss is a young, strong, female character. She's a good archer but even with a few days of training, she isn't immediately awesome at everything that she tries, and I appreciate that. It makes her feel more human. We're cheering for her from the start and Suzanne Collins gives her just enough skill to make us feel that Katniss has a chance to survive the Games, but doesn't make her perfect enough that the danger is a joke.
She makes a good role model, with strong moral values that she will not compromise, not even to save her own life, and this movie did something special—it made me want to read the books, and that is a good thing. It made me want to understand more of what's behind the characters rather than being satisfied with just knowing what the movie showed me. There is more to find out about these characters and I want to know it.
Peeta and Katniss' profiles from the Capitol's files.
Since I work in your friendly neighbourhood bookstore, I would like to mention that in addition to the three books out there, there is a movie companion, an unofficial companion to the series, and The Hunger Pains: A Parody. You know you've made it when there's an official parody.
So, do you like adventure? Danger? Great characters that will make you want more? Go pick up The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and buy your ticket to see the movie. Trust me, you'll want to do both. You can thank me later.
And may the odds be ever in your favour.