Much like the rest of the country, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Hunger Games movie for a while now. I read all three books back to back, gorging myself on the brain candy that they are, and loved them.
After hearing incredibly mixed reviews from everyone I know, I was pleasantly surprised with the adaptation. Gary Ross’ direction was great – I should have known it would be good considering he directed Big. Clearly he’s skilled at dealing with teenagers put in off-putting situations…
I felt they covered everything they should have from the books. They went by things pretty quickly, but I’m not sure how else they could have done it. The script, adapted by the novelist Suzanne Collins, along with Gary Ross and another writer, was pretty thorough in accordance with the story, and I felt they got all the big moments in. And very importantly, I thought the cast was spot on! If you don’t know the story, I apologize because I’m not going to explain who anyone is. sorry. But don’t worry, there are no spoilers.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen was perfect. I was with her every step of the way, and can’t wait to watch her career absolutely explode like its about to! The supporting cast was fantaaassttiiicccc. Woody Harrelson was the ideal Haymitch – a less adept actor would have played the drunk mentor stumbling down, but Harrelson was understated and winning. Surprisingly enough Lenny Kravitz was great as Cinna! His performance was as delicate and likable as his gold eyeliner. Elizabeth Banks who took a turn from her standard pretty blonde was fantastic as Effie Trinket, and made me like her as an actress even more than I already did for being on 30 Rock. Stanley Tucci was his expected flawless self as the cheesy and sparkling Caesar Flickerman, and I really liked how his character was used to keep the audience informed throughout the games. The rest of the cast was good, but these were the standouts.
There’s something so fragile, so delicate about seeing a screen adaptation of a book you’ve loved. For me at least, I walk into the theatre on the defensive. Daring the film maker to impress me. Thinking “I FIE you to properly translate these characters to screen.” The actors are at an automatic disadvantage if I don’t think they’re right, and the designers are at a tough challenge to make things either look the way they did in my head, or to come up with something else great.
The design team on this particular effort had perfect aim (pun intended). They created a stunning blend of futurism and nostalgia, and mixed together exactly the right measurements of the outrageous and the believable. The throwback feel of the advanced technology catered to the other-worldly time-period outlined in the books, and I actually thought that the way the gamemaker’s room was created and shown helped put some pieces of the book together for me.
Also, I felt that the politically charged and socially allegorical elements of the story were really brought to the visual forefront beautifully. It made me excited to see what they have in store for the next two installments.
The movie is unquestionably flawed, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any book to film adaptation that isn’t (except for Gone With The Wind. THAT is perfection on every level imaginable. But, that’s another topic for another time…) I enjoyed the movie with equal power that I enjoyed the books: it didn’t change my life but I was totally invested throughout and enjoyed the time spent. It was sensational to look at, and delivered a pretty gory concept with just the right amount of levity. I also think they did a great job at presenting it for both people who have read the books and those who haven’t. So, whichever one of those describes you – check it out. The odds will be in your favor.