Review: The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games 8.5/10

I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time, and I would have loved to have been able to give it a perfect 10.  Jennifer Lawrence was amazing, as always, and it was one of the most faithful book to film adaptations I have ever seen.  Perhaps a little too good, as I could practically quote what was going to happen next.  Please refrain from Catching Fire and Mockingjay spoilers, and know that there will be spoilers for both the book and movie in this review.

First of all, the producers really played up the idea of Gale as the fake-out love interest, even more than the book did.  Peeta wasn’t even shown onscreen until his name was called at the Reaping.  Granted, that was the way it played out in the book, but at least we got to insight into Katniss’ feelings on him almost instantly.  In the movie, its like “Who is this guy, and why are we supposed to care about him?”  Now onto the meat and potatoes, but mostly just the beef.

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Can we talk for a moment about this guy?  Seriously, he was one of my favorite characters in the book, and the movie was no exception.  But what gives, casting department?  I found him to be way hotter than either one of the romantic leads, and I don’t think I was supposed to get those feelings.  I mean, it couldn’t have been just me, right?  Maybe I just have a thing for guys who can kill people with ease.  I’m sure there’s a great pyschological term for it, somewhere.

I mean, its not the first time this has happened.  I didn’t find Gannicus sexy in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena until after his blindfold fight.  Which is totally a legitimate reference, because Collins has referred to the games as the Gladiator games, and there are strong connections between Panem and the Roman Empire.

Tumblr_lhpqsa1wBU1qzleq4o1_500 I mean, just look at that man for a moment.  Absolutely flawless.

It doesn’t help that Gale and Peeta don’t really do anything remarkable over the course of the movie.  I understand Gale was hardly in the book, but he was in the promotional material so much, and he only seems to be in the movie to remind you that he’s going to be important later.  And what is Peeta’s excuse?  He’s not even crippled at the end, he’s walking around just fine, and he still gives the impression of being useless.  Maybe that was supposed to highlight how amazing Katniss was, and in that it succeeded.  I couldn’t help but get the impression that were she alone, she would have been able to handle that fight with Cato much better.

Speaking of the ending, they took everything I loved about it and destroyed it.  I loved how terrifying it was that the gamemakers harvested body parts from dead tributes and made wolf creatures out of them.  In the movie, the wolf creatures were just wolf creatures, and they weren’t even that scary.  Then, they had Katniss mercy kill Cato as soon as the wolf things started going to town, instead of waiting to see if the wolves would take care of him.   Which, in the case of the movie, they probably would have been able to succeed in killing him because he apparently no longer had his body armor that prevented them from killing him in the book.  I’m not entirely sure where they were going with that change.  Was she supposed to be more moral by killing him sooner, or were they just running out of time at the end?  In either case, I completely blame the MPAA for the poor ending scenes, as we all know Cato’s original death would not have slipped in under their PG-13 rating.

Speaking of the ending, it felt horribly rushed.  There were other things that could have been cut that would have given them more time at the end, and things that were important in the books that were thrown haphazardly into the movie without any real explanation.  For instance, why is Gale’s name in the draw 42 times, and where was Katniss comment about hers being in there 20, and why is there absolutely no mention that they are risking their lives so that their families can survive?  Also, the significance of the Mockingjay was completely dropped, yet President Snow gives the pin a disgruntled look at the end when he’s crowning Katniss.  Not to mention, there were far too many scenes of what those dastardly gamemakers were up to, that not only ruined what suspense there might have been, but seemed to serve no other purpose than “Look at this awesome technology they have that they use for a totally evil purpose!”  I mean, seriously, why scare people by throwing wolf creatures randomly at your main characters when you can just show the audience that they’re about to throw wolf creatures at them?  Oh, no, we can’t scare that poor teenage audience even though we’ll just have a twelve year old die on screen!  Think of the teenagers’ sanity!

Which brings me to Katniss.  I only had one minor quibble with her.

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Why so pretty, Katniss?  You’ve been hunted like a wild animal for like, a week, you have no hairbrush, no soap, no access to makeup, and yet you still look so pretty.  The boys at this point look a bit roughed up, as they should, yet she looks like she’s ready for her next interview, just as soon as Cinna delivers her dress.  Oh, that’s right, I forgot.  You’re played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she’s flawless.

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All in all, I did enjoy the movie.  Haymitch quickly won me over, even faster than in the books, Lenny Kravitz was inspired as Cinna.  Rue was just as adorable as I imagined her, and yes, I cried great big tears during that scene.  Then I was consumed with rage that they took out the scene of Katniss getting the bread from the District to replace it with a scene to set up Catching Fire.  Really?  You took out one of the most moving scenes in the book to replace it with a taste of what’s going to happen in the next movie?  Inspired.  Please learn to focus on the movie you’re working on now, thank you very much.

So, any changes in the movie you found perfectly distasteful?  Or if you just want to gush about Jennifer Lawrence, I’m also available for that.

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