Now that I’m done with my month-long (and change) insanity of the 31 Days of Twilight project, I can move on to some other stuff, like my own writing and a backlog of reviews for books I actually enjoyed.
In February I went on a cruise and, while travelling, put away a couple of books, one of which was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Michelle had been trying to get me to read this book for years and with the up-coming vacation and the movie being released soon after I decided it was time to read it.
Well, first of all THG is definitely a young adult novel. Maybe an older young adult novel, what with all the death, but definitely a YA novel. THG covers the story of Katniss Everdine, a young woman who takes part in The Hunger Games, which is a survival-tournament of sorts pitting twenty-four children against each other in a last-man-standing fight-to-the-death scenario.
Basically, I liked the book in that I found it entertaining although the first person, present-tense perspective was a little difficult as Katniss, in my opinion, is not a very likeable or comfortable character to wear. She’s rough and abrasive to all but a few individuals and emotionally stunted in a few ways. I found myself getting frustrated with her and the way she acted emotionally but beyond that I enjoyed the story. The descriptions were interesting, the action was decent, and I thought the twist at the end was a nice one. Will I read the sequels? Eh, maybe, but I don’t have any real burning desire to do so.
A few weeks later the movie came out. I thought THG movie was ok as a movie and fine as an adaptation. I thought the actors did a great job with their roles and I enjoyed getting to see the gamemasters in action (I’d wondered how they might portray them). I think that the chemistry between Lenny Kravitz’s Cinna and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was spot on and while they didn’t go for the full-on drunken slob that Haymitch is in the book, I think Woody Harrelson was a great casting choice for the role. I thought most of the style choices were also really well done; I dug the dustbowl era mining town feel of District 12 and the look of the Capitol.
I have three main complaints with the movie. The first is that I felt it lacked a lot of context regarding things it brought up in the movie itself and regarding the plot translated from the book. For instance, when Effie plays the “Yay, the Capitol!” video reel just before the Reaping the video references thirteen districts but the movie never explains what happened to the thirteenth district (or, really, why the twelve districts are now in subjugation to the Capitol other than that the Capitol “won” the war). We’re not told about how mockingjays, tracker jackers, or the wolf creatures came to be, or really any of the history of the world that lends its current situation any context. Before the Reaping, when Katniss and Gale are talking, they mention how many times their names are in the bowl for the choosing but they never go into WHY their names are in there as much as they are. It’s little things like this that are never explained that, as far as the plot goes, are inconsequential but I feel should be addressed if they’re brought up at all. The detail regarding the thirteenth district is especially important when you consider that it is integral to the history of the relationship between the Capitol and the other districts.
My second complaint is in regards to Katniss. Now, before you fans of the movie lynch me, I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a just fine job as Katniss aside from a couple of things. One, I found her Katniss to be more likeable than the one in the book; she didn’t feel as abrasive to me. Two, the make-up and costume choices for her felt off. Sure, Katniss goes through the grooming process when she gets to the Capitol but at no point before that were her eyebrows anything but perfectly plucked. She was too clean and her hunting attire didn’t match up with the rest of the District 12 setting; for one, her clothes were too clean, two, they were the wrong style, and three, that leather jacket was not hunting wear, it looked like someone went to wardrobe, found a modern cut leather jacket and dirtied it up/aged it a little. None of her rough-and-tumble clothing was stained, torn, or mended in any way that I would expect in such a financially destitute setting.
My third complaint is shaky cam. I hate shaky cam. I think shaky cam is ridiculous in anything but a “found footage” type movie because why would the all-seeing eye of the audience have to be shaky? I get why they used it (combined with quick cuts) during the initial scene at the Cornucopia (to get around showing a majority of the violence so they could qualify for a PG-13 rating) but the shaky cam at the start of the movie? Annoyed me right from the go.
But, as I said, I thought it was a decent movie. I don’t think anything would be missed if you waited to see it at home but I’d recommend seeing it in general if you liked the books.