March 26, 2012

Monday's Movie Review: The Hunger Games (No Spoilers)

I love weekends like the one we just had, when there is a burst of energy blazing through the movie blogging community over a single release. It's a rare treat that only a highly anticipated film can provide. We let everyone know when we'll be seeing it, what our expectations are and finally, if they were met. And love the film or hate it, this energy brings us together far better than something like Wrath of the Titans or Mirror Mirror.

I mention this only because it's the foundation on which my memory of a movie like The Hunger Games is based, and why I could never give it a fair shake in the first place. I knew walking into the theater I would love it. It didn't have to be a perfect film, but as long as it was an adequate adaptation then I was sold. And that's exactly what happened, because it's weekends like these that make seeing a film an experience instead of just another screening.

The Hunger Games is not a masterpiece, but I still think it's a very good movie and adaptation of Suzanne Collins' brutal look at kids being forced to kill each other for national entertainment. It has flaws, particularly the overuse of shaky cam, lack of backstory in this dystopian world, and a rushed feeling of trying to get everything crammed into the two and half hour runtime. But it does more in getting things right.

I don't think a single character was miscast (even Harry Potter can't brag about that), and all the performances, were at least admirable, particularly from so many relative unknowns. The decision to incorporate the Games control room and head gamemaker Seneca Crane actually added a layer of depth to the Capitol and the Games themselves, since the entire book is merely from our heroine Katniss's point of view. And the darker scenes were handled with expert care so that the parents of the target demographic could enjoy the film with their kids and hopefully forgo any nightmares.

Of course the book is better. How many times can you say the reverse? (I can only think of two.) However, The Hunger Games can stand alone as a fine beginning to what will hopefully be an exceptional franchise, providing several more weekends with this energy that unites as film fans.

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7 comments:

  1. i think there are a lot of great book to film adaptations, actually. i haven't read these books, but this was a really good film. but i do think the book would have explained the backstory better

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    1. Oh, I don't disagree. There a loads of great adaptations out there, but it always seems beneficial to read the book before or after seeing the movie, to fill in holes or enrich the experience. However, there are only two instances (that I can think of) where I'd say "Skip the book" because the movie version was all you need (The Godfather and The Devil Wears Prada).

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    2. I also felt that "The Princess Bride" movie was far better than the book. The book did fill in some holes of the film... but in the same regard, I didn't realize they were holes until I read the book.

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    3. Well The Princess Bride's book is written by the film's screenwriter, so there's really not too much of a difference between the two. The only thing that really stands out was the castle zoo sequence in the book which I imagine would have been to costly for the film's budget.

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    4. Haven't read The Princess Bride, so like Nick, I didn't know there were any holes to be filled in, as the film was perfectly on its own.

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  2. Love your enthusiasm for not only this book/film, but the buzzy week(end) it provided us. I'm not sure how much I love those weeks - as it can get a bit repetitive (I already feel like our Hunger Games podcast will be way too late despite not yet listening to a single one) - but I like your enthusiasm for it.

    As for this particular book/film, I agree with you there, only on a slightly lower plane all around.

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    1. Well, five days later the buzz has died down, so we'll see how much enthusiasm I still have Saturday evening (especially after climbing The Tower). But there's not doubt how amped I get going into weekends with huge releases, and we have at least 2 more as big coming up this year, methinks. Outside of the Potter finale, 2011 was quite lacking with this kind of excitement.

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