Mar 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) / three, two, one... fire!

directed by Gary Ross / starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland


FI-FREAKING-NALLY! I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this movie! (...Actually, I can. Since Septemper 2010, when I read the books.) I experienced some random bursts of excitement all day, and kept squeaking and anxiously squirming in my seat during the trailers, and then...! There it was! The world of Hunger Games right before my eyes! Hallelujah! Game on!

I liked the movie! I liked it very, very much. I expected a lot of it, and I didn't have to be disappointed. They did an amazing job with it, I think. As far as recent famous-book-series-turned-into-big-budget-films go, this was almost Lord of the Rings quality. Like all the early reviews have been saying, The Hunger Games is not just another adaption: it works alone as a film, too. I went to see the film with a friend who hadn't read the books (she will, though, after tonight), and she enjoyed it a lot, too. It's not like, for example, with the Harry Potter films, which are mostly just fun extentions for the books.

Now let's see. What did I like... Well, the overall mood of the film was just right. It felt like the same universe that I had imagined when reading the books. Watching the film felt like reading the books did. There was similar excitement and suspense and anticipation and adrenaline. I had some MASSIVE goosebumps (tribute parade, first Cornucopia scene, District 11 and the three finger salute...), I almost cried a couple of times, and once in a while I felt like cheering. Just like when reading the books. Much of the mood was achieved through the superb costumes and the sets. I mean, I just loved the Capitol and the ridiculous outfits and the ultramodern look of everything. And the awesomely interesting contrast that is created when the luxury and bright colors change into the grey, gloomy District 12. That's one reason why this story just needed to be transfered to the big screen.

It felt like the Games part of the book was cut relatively short, and the emphasis was on the the preparation and all that. Which I actually didn't mind! A lot of interesting stuff was missing from the Games, but majority of it happened inside Katniss's head anyway, and it's understandable that they don't want to show Katniss looking for water for two days. Oh, but I can't tell you how much I loved the new points of view; how we got to look at behind the scenes of the Games and witness some intense moments with President Snow. And the little clip from District 11! It was all so fresh and exciting, and it gave a new, fascinating dimension to the story. All the foreshadowing about the rebellion made me very happy.

Now, let's talk about characters and actors! Jennifer Lawrence was pretty much perfect, I have not a criticizing word to say about her. I am eternally grateful that she is Katniss and no one else. I didn't mind Haymitch's hair once I got past the initial shock, because Woody Harrelson was great, as one might expect. I wouldn't watched much more of him, though. Elizabeth Banks was a wonderfully horrible Effie. Two characters that stood out for me, because they had bigger roles in the movie thanks to the new aspects of narrating, were Stanley Tucci's slimy/charming Ceasar Flickerman and Wes Bentley's Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane. Both characters were much more interesting than they were in the books! Loved Ceasar's "red carpet" commentary, and the last scene with Crane, just brilliant and chilling! Cato stood out, too! Great, additional stuff in the end. A nice, "Remember who the enemy is" kind of a moment.

Can I get to the subject of Peeta now? Okay. If you have read any of my THG posts, you know that I'm the biggest Peeta fan. And I have to say that the film Peeta was not quite as lovable the original book Peeta. It was not about Josh Hutcherson or his acting, I think; he did quite a good job. I just think they had made the movie Peeta quite one dimensional and a bit boring. "Hajuton, väritön, mauton", as we say in Finland. He now seemed like a nice enough boy, though a bit simple and a little sissy. He had an innocent crush on a girl and he liked holding hands with her. But something was missing.

It's not good that I had just read the book before I saw the movie. It's never good. I try to steer away from all that annoying nit-picking, about that and that favourite line and scene that was excluded from the movie or wasn't done quite right. But with Peeta it actually bothered me! They had cut all of his jokes! I mean, he is actually a funny, witty guy, with some wonderful and charming self-irony on store. All the suggestive comments he makes in the cave, and "You here to finish me off, sweatheart?", and the jokes about frosting someone to death. He was too solemn.

Also, as they'd kind of played down the romance aspect of the story (Where were all the kisses?? We got about one and a half, if that. Haha. Sorry, but I really wanted kisses...), the final scene with Katniss and Peeta (when it's supposed to be all dramatic and heartbreaking because it wasn't a show for Peeta, and for Katniss it was, but only for the most part, which is why she's all confused now, but anyway she doesn't want to play house anymore) was a bit lame and anticlimactic. In the book the scene is so awesome, with Peeta so clearly hurt, and Katniss can't do anything but feel horrible, and then Peeta once more shows his awesomeness with that "One more time, for the cameras?" comment and Katniss takes his hand and fears for the moment when she'll finally have to let go. Ah! Oh well, maybe that's what they went for, ambiguity about Katniss's true feelings...

The movie Peeta wasn't totally hopeless, just not as lovable as the book Peeta. I'm hoping for some progress in the sequels. And anyway, one can be a mere fraction as lovable as the book Peeta, and still be more lovable than all the other characters put together. That's just how lovable he is. Look at that darling face.

What else did I have to say...? Well, I just went to check out some comments on IMDb. I should stop going there, that place is full of idiots. Haha. If I hear "Battle Royal rip-off" one more time, I swear I'll... be as annoyed as all the other times I hear that. Sigh. I spotted many disappointed comments, but I will not let those bother me, because I was indeed very happy with the film! I liked the shaky camera work, the music, the editing between the arena and the Districts and the Gamemakers' control room... I think there was just enough violence. PG-13 was just fine with me; I mean, I didn't want to see any gore! There was just enough blood and fighting. Kids are killing kids, okay, no need to show all the details. Though I did like what Cato did with that poor guy's neck. Oh SNAP!

Some more random things that I liked:  Fox-Face, especially the intense moment when she and Katniss (literally) bump into each other. Katniss trembling all over before sent up to the arena in the tube. Rue's death scene and how Katniss mourns her afterwards. Seneca Crane's beard (couldn't stop staring at it). The Reaping. Gale and Katniss mouthing to each other during the Reaping. The scene with the apples and the explosion. The trackerjacker hallucinations. Haymitch telling them that they're going to die (though "Stay alive" is better). How the idea about letting both tributes from one District win came from Haymitch. How Peeta cries on the way to the train and Effie keeps babbling about some outrageously shallow stuff, like she always does. Effie's "That's mahogany!". Ceasar's interview with Peeta. Peeta's joke about the bow (Now there's some of that self-deprecating humour I so much love!). When Peeta tells Katniss about the first time he saw her. The first berry scene, Katniss's panic and "Damn you, Peeta!". (Well, looks like Peeta wasn't a total loss for me, after all...)

I probably had more things I wanted to point out, but let that be it for now. I will definitely go see the movie again, and maybe I'll write another post then. I have a feeling that I won't be able to think about anything else but Hunger Games in the next few days...

Next, I'll start looking forward to Catching Fire casting news. Can't wait to get faces for Johanna and Finnick and Coin! Other than that, November 2013 is so freaking far away that I just try not to think about it...


Traileririnki said...

Thank you for this story / review!!!
There was also nice review in the Guardian (not that nice reviews are hard to find) which was in the shape of a video. That's change! I linked it to my microblog and you can find it here:

I find it a bit odd that The Hunger Games appeals on many age groups and both genders, odd but a positive thing of course. I keep HYPEing about HG-news on the fast show I mentioned there...

Thanks again for a good and thorough review!!

Traileririnki said...

ahem, my bad.

Thank you for your POST, of course, not review ;)

Reta said...

Minäkin kävin katsomassa Nälkäpelin ensi-illassa (vaikken suuri fani olekaan, oli vain tylsää niin päätin lähteä extempore elokuviin) ja pakko sanoa että olin todella positiivisesti yllättynyt. Sanoit aika hyvin että tämä voi olla jopa LotR laatua. LotR on ehkä ainoa elokuvasarja joka perustuu kirjoihin joista oikeasti tykkään.
Jenni Lawrence teki mielestäni hyvää työtä. Kerrankin päähenkilö oli onnistuttu roolittamaan hahmonsa näköiseksi ja oloiseksi. Peetan kohdalla mulla on vähän sulettelemista, kuvittelen hänet aina ihan erilaiseksi.
Haymitch oli lempihahmoni kirjoissa, ja nyt oli myös elokuvissa :D Tykkäsin tosi paljon näistä lisäkohtauksista mitä tapahtuu Capitolissa, sillä koko kirja oltiin ainoastaan Katniksen pään sisällä. Ja Haymitching "Hieno mekko! Ei sinun" (eka lause Katnikselle, toka Effielle) oli aika osuva. Ja peukunnäyttö.
Mahonkipöydästä on tullut jo melkein internet-meme.
Muuten, tulipas tässä mieleen että osaisitko vinkata jotain muita hyviä elokuva/tvsarja/kirja aiheista blogia?

Eeva said...

Traileririnki: Glad you liked my POST (nice save there ;))! And thanks for the link to the Guardian review, I got goosebumps, all HG clips have the tendency to give me goosebumps!

Reta: Kiva että tykkäsit leffasta! :) Oi, sullakin oli Peeta-ongelmia. Oon jo epäillyt itseäni kun kellään muulla ei oo ollut Peeta-ongelmia. ;) Hienoja Haymitch-hetkiä oli tosiaan monta, ja Harrelson oli kyllä loistava. Mutta en tiedä, jotenkin Haymitch jäi vähän etäiseksi. Ehkä jatko-osissa se pääsee kehittymään!

Hmm, mitähän sulle vinkkaisin... No, vaikket hurja THG-fani olekaan niin pakko linkata: Tykkään tuosta niin paljon!
Ja mitä suomalaisiin leffablogeihin tulee, tässä pari mun suosikkia:
En tiedä, voi olla että nuo on sulle jo vanhoja tuttuja, mutta siinä nyt mitä ekana tuli mieleen :)