Even though I teach high school English, I haven’t always made time for YA reading until recently. I read a lot more of it now because my kids are voracious readers and a trip to the bookstore always means a few books for them, too. Both my kids read The Hunger Games eons ago and insisted that I read it, too. I finally got around to it last year.
Here is the review I wrote with my daughter at the time.
When we knew that the movie was coming to our local multiplex, my son insisted that we go buy our tickets in advance. Nothing but the first show would suffice for him. He and his friend actually got to the cinema hours in advance -which was lucky for my daughter and I. We couldn’t get there until closer to the start time because of other committments. In the packed theatre, Con had saved us excellent seats.
So, how did the movie compare? It was really good. Not perfect, of course, but really good.
Some rambling thoughts….
Things I liked:
1. Jennifer Lawrence was an excellent Katniss, embodying the vulnerability and grim determination needed to make us believe in her.
2. The Capital was cotton candy creepy – just as I’d imagined it.
3. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta exceeded my expectations. The actor wasn’t physically what I’d imagined – I mean, he’s shorter than Lawrence, for goodness sake. Still, I ended up liking him. And believing in him.
4. Effie Trinket. (Elizabeth Banks) Loved her.
5. President Snow. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Canadian Donald Sutherland, but he was deliciously, subtly evil.
6. It was cool to see behind-the-scenes of the tv show – to see how the games were manipulated.
When the movie opened with Caeser Flickerman and Seneca Crane, I have to admit, I had my doubts. I’m not sure it was necessary to frame the movie like this, really. I would have preferred the movie stick to the book’s opening – letting us see Katniss have her morning with Gale (whom I loved, btw, even though he didn’t really have much to do). For me, this is where a movie like this is always going to be disappointing.
I didn’t like how Katniss came to have the Mockingjay pin. Someone gave it to her in the market. (Was that meant to be Greasy Sae? She looked way too kind-hearted.) And really, gave it to her? Hmmm. Okay.
I wish that the mutant mutts scene had been handled differently – more like the book. There was extra meaning in the scene as Collins wrote it – Katniss’s realization of who the mutts were. I liked it better. Yes I shreiked, as did everyone else in the theatre, when that mutt sprang out of the dark. But why couldn’t they have handled it like the book? I wonder what the reason was for changing it?
As for the other Tributes – even though Collins didn’t spend a lot of time allowing us to get to know them in the novel I still felt more attached to them in the book. I mean, I cried when Rue died both times that I read it. (And yes, I cried in the movie, too.) That said, I found Cato’s on-screen death quite compelling because he was revealed to be what he actually was: a kid afraid to die. (But the long drawn out death scene in the novel still had more impact.)
My kids loved the movie. I thought the movie was terrific.
But not as good as the book.