So a week or so ago my friends talked me into going to see this flick. Now since I had never read the books, and since all the hype for it was equating it with Twilight, I likely would have never seen it on my own. Overall I thought it was an enjoyable film, though I don’t think it would have made quite the box office splash it did had it not had a bestselling book behind it, and Twilight paving the cinematic way.
As I mentioned I haven’t read the books so I can’t talk to how close they got to the written page. Most of my friends and others I have talked to said the movie sticks pretty close to the source which is usually nice to see. A downside of this is that the thirty to forty-five minutes of the movie are incredibly slow. It’s all exposition and story setup, which is fine in a book, but for a movie it makes the uninitiated such as me rather bored until things really start clicking together and moving along. The payoff is great once it gets rolling, but the start is going to leave those with no frame of reference wondering what all the hype is about. The basic plot for those not in the know involves a twisted reality show in which 24 children fight to the death. Punishment by a powerful government to the cities that had tried and failed to rebel against it.
I found the casting and acting to be pretty decent. You have a few well known character actors and plenty of relatively unknowns, which is expected since the majority of the cast are supposed to be children. As I had purposefully avoided any trailers or anything due to the Twilight comparisons I was pleasantly surprised to see the likes of Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson appear on screen, and Stanley Tucci was excellent as always. Really though all of them were mere supporting actors. Jennifer Lawrence plays the real star of the film and she carried the whole thing really well. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, and since its broken records, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her in this role and many others.
The movie looked great, not just on the special effects front, but the design and costume work was excellent. The shift between the worn down settlements and the corrupt Capitol is distinct and you get a real feel for just how different these two groups of people are. Now one area that I have a slight complaint about is the combat. This is a movie where children are killing each other, which is a little hard to sell to a movie going public, and as its aimed at young teens they wanted a PG-13 rating. So the majority of the combat is done with a shaky cam type setup where you see bodies flying and blood spurting, but its all those disjointed and chaotic you can’t really connect the two. It works, but it left me a little put off after how smooth and clean everything else was.
Another problem I had, and this is an issue with most book to movie translations, was that there were a few scenes that were obviously there merely to throw some plot exposition at the audience to make sure those who hadn’t read the books knew what was going on. Though helpful in understand the movie, they didn’t always flow the best. There were also at least two points at which I was left confused by a lack of understanding about exactly what was and wasn’t possible in the world of the movie technology wise. Both take place within the “arena” the children fight in and I don’t want to give any spoilers. My friends helped explain things after the movie, but they shouldn’t have had too. There were a few other lines and scenes that probably would have made more sense in the context from having read the book, but overall the movie is well written enough to convey the plot and keep the watcher informed.
Definitely recommend this one, and now I need to find the books. Its a really well made and enjoyable film with an interesting world that is well worth a visit, and considering the money it’s made more is on the way. Plus if you catch it at the theater there is less chance of it getting spoiled for you since nearly everyone else already has.