Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hunger Games Hangover...

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you haven't read the books/seen the movie, you might want to not read this post because I'm just talking about things without concern for plot spoilers.

Whew, that took a lot of effort to write since I've only had like 5 sips of coffee and I'm SO tired...zzzzz...

So, we went to see the Hunger Games last night. I wanted to see it sooner, but I'm housesitting which means taking care of more ponies and dogs and cats even than usual, so it took some orchestrating to manage a movie night.

Anyway, we saw it. And, I liked it. Liked. It. Of course, I'm a 'the book is SO much better' girl, and it's really hard to impress me with movie adaptations of books I already love. But, overall, I thought the Hunger Games was a good movie-ized version of the book. I did have issues though, and I'm leaving the comments open (so many reviews of the movie that I've read have closed comments, which is fine) because I want to know if other people were annoyed by the same thing (no, none of my issues have anything to do with anyone being black, white, or green, or any of the surrounding drama that seems to have sprung up around that subject) or if they thought things that bothered me weren't so bothersome to them.

So here goes:


1) District 12 was just too CLEAN for me. I'm sorry to be that picky, but I've spent a large part of my life in a coal town (mother came from there) and even though no one in my family worked in the mines, the coal dust was EVERYWHERE. I'm not joking. If you had the windows open, any tables/furniture near them would be coated within an hour or two with fine dust. You wouldn't see the layer until you touched it, then you'd get a skim of black on you. My feet (we went barefoot constantly) were perpetually coated in thick black, and there was a pan of water by the door to rinse them before going into the house. And this wasn't like a shanty town perched at the entrance of the mine. This was just the reality of a coal town where coal was the primary source of heating, where trucks and trains passed through and were loaded for shipment. So they could have done better there. But it's probably a personal annoyance, and it doesn't detract from the movie at all.

2) Kaniss's hair, always hanging in her eyes. I gather that it was a way of 'framing' Jennifer Lawrence's face, but it was very unrealistic for me, just because I've got long hair and I'm outside working, and THE most annoying thing EVER is having a wisp of hair in my eyes/face. And with Katniss being a bow-user, it just felt wrong for her to have crappy bangs dangling everywhere and constantly needing to be pushed aside. I don't think the real Katniss would have the patience to deal with it. She'd be more likely to cut the bangs off at her scalp to get them out of her way.

3) Sober Haymitch? Now, Woody Harrelson was AMAZING as Haymitch. Epic love. However, I felt like the 'powers that be' toned down Haymitch's drunkenness in order to keep to a PG13 rating. (I have other gripes regarding this) I 'get it'. PG13 reaches a much larger market than R, and is much more 'YA friendly' in a marketing sense. But it bothered me. I was really looking forward to Harrelson's portrayal of Haymitch falling off the stage and presenting himself as a walking disaster in general because I knew Harrelson could pull it off spectacularly. Yet, he came out muted, with only glimpses of Haymitch peeking out from a very PC version of the tortured sot he is.

4) The 'wounds'. I say 'wounds' because, well, for me they were 'wounds' like you saw in Gunsmoke or Wagon Train, where someone shot someone else and the injured person doubled over, clutching their stomach and died neatly, with no blood, or maybe a small red spot. I'm not saying that I wanted gore sprayed across the camera lens (like in 300) but honestly, I had to withhold giggles when other audience members made gagging sounds at the two inch diameter bubble on Katniss' leg that was supposed to be a gross, agonizing 3rd degree burn. Sorry, I've HAD a 4inch diameter 3rd degree burn, and it did not look anything remotely like that. Mine had fried blood vessels sticking out of it. Seriously. Now, Lawrence did a great job portraying what that 'burn' FELT like. I found her reactions and the way she moved with it very realistic. But visually, no. And leaving the pant leg like that? Rubbing on the burn? With the melted edges of the material scraping it? Never. Ever. They could have had her cut the pant leg off, or make a bigger hole. Or something. The same goes for Peeta's gihugant (supposed to be, anyway) cut on his leg. Again, I'm sure all of this tempering is for public consumption and the PG13 rating, but I'm sorry, Peeta's leg was practically severed and it half rotted off by the time they escaped. Let's face it, the Games were gut wrenching and AWFUL in the book, and in the movie they were, well, not.

5) The whole thing felt rushed. Rushed in all different ways. I know you can't very well take a book and translate the entire thing into script, but I think they could have made the movie a little longer and spent more time with various aspects. I mean Rue, for example. Rather than fleshing out her shy reserve and how she and Katniss connect, they have several pictures of Rue hiding behind something or peeking out from somewhere. So we get: Rue is small and shy. And randomly, she likes Katniss, even though Katniss is rough and scary. Uh, right. There is so much MORE to their relationship and it wouldn't have taken a huge deal to show it. And the fact that they didn't even show the rest of Cinna's team, many of whom cared for Katniss in a very personal and supportive way annoyed the tar out of me. There were a scattering of things like that where my editor brain kicked in and started going 'They could have cut out X and put in a 2 minute scene between K and F and shown Y by doing it.' Which leads me to the second rushed sensation. I sort of feel like the movie was on a schedule or something and there was a 'we'll shoot this and if we get the shot, great, and if we don't, we'll make it work anyway' mentality. Hard to explain but there were moments and sequences that were SO SPOT ON, with the characters and story, but then there were others (like Rue hiding) where the FIRST thing I thought was 'Oh, they took the quick easy route with portraying that'. It was almost textbook 'show' versus 'tell' movie style.

Now, so I'm not whining and critiquing the entire time:

Things I Loved Unreasonably About The Movie:

1) The cast. I thought they could not have done better with their casting choices. They were all totally phenomenal. And I can tell you right now if they choose to make the 2nd and 3rd books into movies and cast members change it will FAIL.

2) Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Oh. My. Lord. Kravitz WAS Cinna the way I felt Cinna in my head when I read the books. There are not words to articulate how much I love his portrayal.

3) Harrelson as Haymitch. I AM OFFICIALLY TEAM HAYMITCH. And I hated Haymitch the moment I met him (in the books), but by the time we saw him on the train, my feelings were beginning to blur. By the time Peeta was peeling him off the floor for the second time, I was irrevocably in love with his tortured soul. So capturing my feeling of Haymitch was going to be impossible. I had high hopes though, when I saw who had been cast, and despite my quibbles with the not-so-much-drinking-being-drunk part, Harrelson rocked the house.

4) Peeta looking out the train window, waving at the Capitol folk as they arrived. He was SO FREAKING SWEET TEMPERED PEETA at that moment. It made me ache. The same goes for his interview with Flickerman and when he was talking at the dinner table about how his mother thought their District might win, but not because of him.

5) Katniss looking at that hologram of the forest, when for like 18 seconds, she thought she might be able to step through the window and just BE SOMEWHERE ELSE. Also, those seconds when she had to walk across to the Arena tube, get inside and then not panic and struggle when it began to rise and take her away from Cinna.

6) That moment at dinner when they were discussing the kids who train their entire lives for the Games, and Haymitch says they almost always win, but Effie points out that they stay in the same apartments, but they aren't lucky enough to be able to order whatever dessert they want, and Peeta and Katniss can, so isn't that lovely? And when she admonishes Katniss for having bad manners both after she thrashes Peeta and after she's shot her arrow through the apple in the pigs mouth.

So, to recap, the movie was a small little shadow in the presence of the book itself. But for all that, it did a good job of being what it was. The cast was great, the actors nailed their characters, even when inhibited by ratings. I'll be very interested to see if they make the 2nd and 3rd books. I'm not sure how that will work, what with the noticeable lack of grit and rawness in this movie that was present in the books, but it'll be interesting.

What about you? Have you seen the movie? What did you think?