Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games


I've been looking forward to this one. Here's my story with the books: I've read the first one, that's it. The others are on my list, but I'm not there yet, so please don't spoil ME if you choose to comment. Also, I have no idea of the context of the others as well.
Now that that's out of the way, the movie was spectacular. Two and a half hours of everything I could have possibly asked for. I do not plan to recap the story for this one, I think it's worth seeing yourself. Honestly I think even the trailers spoil too much.\

Plot: I'm a big fan. It's emotional and yet physically present the whole time. It's a potential love story wrapped up in and concealed within an action movie, with sci-fi/fantasy elements everywhere. I'm not reviewing the book though, so let's see how they implemented it.
In my opinion, perfectly. It's been a while since I read the book, but I thought they hit every single key point that they needed to. However, my family disagreed a bit. They pointed out that the film needed more to tell in District 12 at first, and that the ending was greatly abbreviated. In my opinion, both of these are for the best. The bit at the beginning was sufficient to give us the background we needed and establish the relationship with Gale, but too much more of that could have been dreadfully boring. I will admit that they tore the thing with her father out of the film pretty effectively, with only the one reference to it. But honestly, unless the father thing becomes a more major element of the sequel books, I don't think it was really that important in the first book. As for the ending, I firmly believe that the film ending is sufficient and not noticeably contradictory. Excepting a piece on the train home, everything that was taken out works better as an opener to movie two than as a closer to movie one. It worked as it did in the books for a reason. In the books, especially the first book, Suzanne Collins had no idea if the public would like her book enough to warrant the sequel she wanted. To try and tilt the results toward that, she wrote in the cliffhangers, the loose ends and problems like Gale's anger, and put them in so that people would ask for a book two to get answers. If she had just left it, it could have been a standalone. Now, here's the movie. The series is already complete - and the difference is that the studio KNOWS it will do the book 2 movie, regardless. Everybody's contracts were signed before release even. They don't need to string you along to get you to come see Book 2. In fact, they CAN'T do what Suzanne Collins did. They CAN'T rely on people's curiosity because people can just go read the books to get the answers. Since there's no incentive to string you along, it's okay to condense the movie a bit and cut off a bit before the actual book's ending.
That said, I can't wait to read Book 2. I'm pretty sure there were a few things in the movie that were lead-ins to book 2, things that Collins couldn't have come up with yet. I'm thinking of the, um, the District 11 thing. I hope that's cague enough to not spoil anything.

Acting: Yeah, they pretty much hit the nail on the head. Actually, so did the casting department - every single character looked and behaved exactly as I imagined. My family thought Peeta would be taller, but I didn't. I think "looks meak but secretly a physical powerhouse" was the right look. Seriously, I have no complaints. Effie Trinket was so amazingly close to my own mental image it's scary. I'm also a big fan of Stanley Tucci as Caesar and the actress for Katniss.

Design: They perfectly hit the futuristic Capitol look and how it contrasts the rustic, poverty-stricken District look. I will say that a few of the designs looked a bit much like a retro sci-fi film than a real thing, but hey, the future is weird. And apparently very pink. Seriously, there was bright pink everywhere!
I wanted to stop for a moment and talk about her dresses. Her parade dress wasn't quite what I was think for her, a bit weirdly angular. The interview dress was stunning, and that was more along the lines of what I'd imagined for the parade as well
Also, Wes Bentley(playing Seneca Crane)'s facial hair was really cool, great design there.

Music: Hell yeah! It's really good. I downloaded the score right after I got home. It's bloody fantastic. I hope the rest of the score gets released soon. My connected the guitars to the Firefly/Serenity sound, and the beating drums to the Halo sound.

Violence: I need to address this because it's causing a ruckus. What on earth is so bad that you can't see in any other PG-13 movie? It's got a lot of very implied violence, and we see some kills, but it's nothing new. The film IS very intense, and the personal nature of it is unsettling, but this is just a modern day extreme arena fight. Yes, the folks in it are young. But really, it's not the violence is glorified. It's presented in a way that we abhor the violence, and so does Katniss and Peeta and all the protagonists. If the violence was a good thing, I'd see the argument. But this is FIGHTING violence. It uses it as a way to generate anger toward the fascist totalitarian Penam, and I think all of these themes are significant. The violence is a means to an end of relating these themes, and it does it better than anything else could have.

The Flaw: Only one thing is actually flawed in any particular way in my opinion - shaky cam. There's a little bit too much of it. I'm usually fairly tolerant, and I can see why it would be used to generate that jittery, adrenaline-fueled frantic pace of a lot of the scenes, but they went a bit overboard, mostly during the first scene of the Games themselves and during the finale.

Verdict: This is a short review because I can't really find anything wrong really.
Watch This Movie If You Like: Movies. Seriously, if you like movies as a whole you can probably find it within yourself to like this. Also if you're a fan of the books.
Don't Watch This Movie If You're Expecting: I dunno, mindless action or stupid comedy? I'm drawing a blank on what else you could be expecting that would ruin your experience.
Final Grade: 9.5/10, A

If you're wondering what to expect next, I'm almost done with the second Phoenix Wright game so I'll do a short review of that soon, and I should be playing Dungeon World again with my buds this week sometime so I'll put up my Session 2 notes. I'll also be uploading my first impressions and annotations on the DW Beta 2 rules. Now go see The Hunger Games!

End Recording,

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