i'm about to go on a rant, so humor me, will you? hey, it's my blog i do what i want! feel free to skip ahead if you aren't interested in my ravings about the popular YA book turned movie...
I went into the hunger games with few expectations. I'd read the book at the nudging of a fangirl friend on Wednesday (it's a quick read with size 16 font) and went to see the opening midnight showing at my local multiplex on Thursday. I thought the book, while poorly written, had a few interesting things going on - a strong female main character (who's not even sexualized! go women!), potential subversive political agenda (down with capitalism, maybe?!) - and I was ready to give the movie a chance.
Teens and tweens crowded the lobby. We showed up only 15 minutes ahead of time but luckily found three seats together. The crowd was boisterous and excited during the previews, there were oohs and ahhs during a particularly thrilling twilight trailer.
The film starts silently with text titles giving some background information. I couldn't help but notice that the font chosen was Century Gothic, one of the most commonly used fonts. I'm no font geek, but my own resume is in Century Gothic. They could have spent $50 to get a special ~Hunger Games~ font made. They could have used the font from the book jacket. That was the first offense.
We go to District 12, meet Katniss and the family. We can tell district 12 is poor because there are a lot of old people I guess, and everyone is sporting their finest dust bowl chic. I liked the clothes in this part. It looks quaint, somewhere you might vacation. No one looks hungry. Actually, that was a recurring sentiment: no one seemed hungry EVER. Katniss goes hunting- and she spots a deer within seconds! Nope, definitely no one starving here.
Meeting Gale was fun! Gale is possibly the worst actor in the film. You may remember him as Miley Cyrus's real life boyfriend (my friend whispered this to me mid scene). His acting technique is straight out of high school musical theater. This is where I announce to my friends that the movie is officially bad. No one argues.
The reaping scene is robotic, no suspense. Zero. The pacing is awful. I've seen soap operas that stir my emotions more. This was my same feeling about the book. Interesting story, has potiential, but written in a careless, amateur way that sucks all the urgency out of it. Nothing carries weight here.
The flashback to Peeta giving Katniss bread- just what?! If you hadn't read the books you are left out in the cold on that one. Katniss looks like she's shooting up narcotics in Peeta's backyard and he throws some burnt bread in the mud. That's all we get. A voice over could have helped this, just saying..
Peeta and Katniss have about as much chemistry as a cardboard box. Jennifer Lawrence is a black hole of emotion, sucking scenes dry with her dead eyed looks. Peeta is charmless, and the way they keep framing close ups of his face is not helping matters around his striking resemblance to a dumpling.
Woody Harrleson playing Haymitch is like a high person playing a drunk person. I am into that.
Lenny Cravitz playing Cinna (the implied gay stylist) is giving me creepy vibes. He's all sticky sweet affection and Katniss is stone cold. This is uncomfortable to watch.
The tribute parade with the girl-on-fire is an important scene in the book, a part that actually builds up to something. The movie just rushes through it and the whole being on fire thing is looks like a .gif. The audience laughs.
The countdown to the game is slowww. They count for a whole minute! Once the first dead are all dead, the cannon sounds. It's a dark moment - until a pretty blue butterfly lands on Kat's hand! Aww. This is how you lie to children about death.
Who put Rue in an overall jumper with pink sparkle sleeves? Who made that decision?!! Also her hair was always too clean. She's climbing in trees, she's dying on a spear, and her hair is perfect, not one strand out of place.
And then when she dies and her district -the district of color apparently- riots? What is THAT about, Hollywood? That does not happen in the book, and could you be more obvious? That ish is whack. (Then again, apparently you can get more racist.)
The fight scenes all seemed like the director just let the musical theater kids ad lib their way through it. "Kill her Cato!" the peanut gallery yells from the bottom of the tree. "That's a funny impression!" Cato says to his girlfriend when she's imitating a dying tribute. This kind of stuff is out of a made for TV movie, it's just careless.
Everything in the future is made of glitter. The suits, the food, the fancy medicines that heal wounds in hours- it's just body glitter. Real creative, guys. Somebody have a discount at Clair*s?
They could have cut the movie down about an hour if they had skipped all the unnecessary reaction shots. Then maybe they could have added some pauses between action and exposition and actually make the audience hold its breath. But we knew from the moment it began where it was going. There is not a single cliff hanger than isn't immediately resolved.
I had hoped the movie would add suspense and go a little deeper into the dark side of what the book skimmed. Instead it felt phoned in; the aesthetics of a lifetime movie made with a mumblecore production team. The whole thing felt rushed, the acting was embarrassing and the plot would be impossible to keep up with if you hadn't read the book to know what was coming.
All this said, I know that people who consider themselves fans are going to like this movie despite everything. I just think that a movie with a fan base this large could have been good. It could have been epic, it should have been! It was going to make money no matter what, and it deserved to be made with care. Instead, they spent all the money on advertising and rushed through the actual filmmaking. It sucks cause I think this had potential to be way better than those vampire losers, even if it was a watered down Battle Royal ripoff all along. Ah well, that's enough teen lit for me anyhow.
You're on your own, Katniss Everdeen. I will not be attending any future hunger games.