The Hunger Games

Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.

Writers: Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins
Director: Gary Ross
Stars:  Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Run Time: 142 Minutes
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn

It has been quite a while since I have written a new entry to this developing hobby of mine; Popcorn Movie  The combination of moving to a new city halfway across the country (Seattle) and the more difficult hurdle of not having a personal computer has hindered my ability to throw out an insightful (or not) two cents on a movie every now and then.

It did however give me some alone time which I used to devour The Hunger Games Trilogy.  I have to say as a casual reader, the first book took me some time to get into, not because of the story but just because I didn’t give myself the 15 minutes of dedication that is needed to be captured by the story.  I followed up that first 15 minutes with pretty much 4 days of continuous reading until the book was finished. And that’s a long time to finish compared to many other fans!  The next two books were done in a matter of weeks.

All of that being said, this is a review of The Hunger Games from someone who has read the books.  I believe that had I not read the books, I would have an entirely different opinion.  I’m not sure what it would be, but I’m sure it would be different.

I was very much looking forward to this movie, since I read the novel so long after it was released and just before the release of the movie, I timed it perfectly to be primed and ready to view the horrible youth on youth horror after imagining it in my head as I turned the pages.

Generally speaking the movie was a snapshot of everything the book offered.  I believe Writer/Director Gary Ross and co-screenplay writer and author of the series Suzanne Collins didn’t leave a storyline or necessary detail out, but the inclusion of nearly all of those storylines and details were fired at you in such a shotgun fashion, it didn’t do justice to any one of them. The lack of reason for Haymitch’s dependency issues, the immediate bond between Katniss and Cinna, the absence of Gale, the breeze over in the connection of Katniss and Rue in the arena are just a few of many examples.  I understand that adapting a tremendously popular book to the screen always comes with less story detail and development, but I thought in this case it would have been better off  a much longer, perhaps a two part movie, or being more selective in what stories to follow and taking the time to develop and do them right.

Despite the gross detractions of the stories, the most obvious fault of the movie was the constant shaky movements of the camera in moments of action and inactivity.  It is such a fast pace shaking, whipping in every which way mess that it invokes serious dizziness and despise for the movie.  I was happy to read recently that Gary Ross will not be back to direct part two “Catching Fire” that is scheduled to start shooting in the coming months.  Francis Lawrence will be taking his place and I am excited for the change and to see what the director of “I am Legend” and “Water for Elephants” will bring to the table.

I have taken so long to address the selection of actors for each character and the work done by the actors and actresses because I thought that all performances were solid.  The only actress I knew was playing a part before I read the books was Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, so she was always Katniss to me.  I thought she was fantastic.  When the camera held tight for long enough to see her, she was stoically portraying the fear and heroism that the character has.  I also thought that Josh Hutcherson was captivating as Pita and am excited to see more of him in the upcoming films.  A stand out was Stanley Tucci as the emcee of the Capital’s events Caesar Flickerman.  Liam Hemsworth was written practically obsolete as Gale, but this isn’t his movie.  I believe he will be great once we get to “Mockingjay”.

I left the theater with pretty mixed emotions.  The movie was entertaining, it was a fast passed movie with an interesting story.  I have heard from people that never read the books that they really enjoyed it.  In the end for me, I was too disappointed with the style of the movie and lack of depth in every story to leave satisfied.  I anxiously await the remaining two of the series and when it is all done, hope that this will not be my favorite.

Medium Popcorn.

I will leave with a reminder to all teenagers to get to movies on time and to not text, talk, and laugh at kissing scenes throughout the entire thing. I guess I had this coming to me seeing this movie when I did so soon after its release…

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