I saw The Hunger Games at midnight last night. I slightly over slept this morning, but I made it to work on time and booked it to the coffee shop immediately (I rarely drink coffee), and I think it was worth it. I wouldn't say that it's one of my favorite movies of all time, but it drew me in and attached me somewhat to the characters. I'm looking forward to the next installment, whenever that comes out, and I will be reading the books shortly.
I found it surprising that there was so little music in the film. I think it worked well, but it made it rather difficult to pass candy around my group of friends without being disruptive. On the plus side, it kept me from eating too many M&Ms since I was self-conscious about how loud my chewing sounded in the nearly silent theater. In a way, the silence enhanced the tension of the film. I didn't realize that the film would be as serious as it was, which I suppose was silly of me since it's a story about child sacrifice and warfare. Almost the only humor was when Katniss was on the talk show with Stanley Tucci's blue-haired character.
ENTERING THE DANGER ZONE
I really enjoyed the character dynamics, particularly Katniss and Cinna. Something about the way he looked out for her before anyone else did really drew me in.
Knowing that Haymitch was a Hunger Games winner immediately explained a lot about his character, so the drunken rudeness was understandable. I never disliked him, but I definitely began to like him once he woke up to Katniss's awesome strength and potential. I loved when he gave her the thumbs up after she shot the apple in the roasted pig's mouth and he quoted her saucy retort. Even the moment when he pinned Peeta down with his foot on the train made me like him more. It was a powerful indication of how he won his Hunger Game and what it did to him. And his notes to Kat during the games were hilarious. "You call that a kiss?" LOL!
I've loved Stanley Tucci in everything I've seen him in. Hunger Games was no exception, despite his callousness regarding the games. Something about his plastered smile and detached commentary made me okay with him, even though it was disturbing how calmly he went over footage of previous Hunger Game murders.
My friends - who have all read the books - were impressed that I figured out what Gale meant when he said his name was in the Reaping drawing 42 times. I was confused at first since he's obviously not 42 years old and the Reaping only happens once a year. But a well-planned flashback later on showed Katniss instructing her little sister not to put her name in more times in order to get more food.
I unintentionally read some spoilers last week, so the love-triangle wasn't a surprise, but I kind of wish I hadn't known until after the film. I would have liked to feel out what I thought of Peeta/Katniss/Gale for myself. As it was, Gale's feelings were pretty obvious. He was definitely asking Katniss to run away with him at the beginning, and when he saw footage of Kat and Peeta together, he was glaring like nobody's business. As one of my guy friends said, "Jealous much?" From her response to the runaway request, she doesn't seem to be aware of his feelings any more than she is aware of her own beauty.
The flashbacks of Katniss and Peeta had me confused for a while, but I'm pretty sure that was intentional. The first glimpse of the flashback showed Peeta throwing food to the pigs rather than giving it to an obviously weak and starving Katniss, which made her prickliness towards him at the beginning rather understandable. As Katniss began to soften towards Peeta, we saw that an older woman was forcing Peeta to throw the burnt bread to the pigs, and by the time Kat and Peeta were friends, we found out that he actually tossed Katniss some bread, too. As they shifted into romantic mode, we found out that Peeta regretted what he did and wished he had walked over to hand her the bread. I thought the imagery was well played, though the reality of what he did makes Katniss's initial prickliness somewhat less understandable.
I really liked how uncomfortable Katniss was with being paraded about before the games. It was well written and directed in the way that Katniss was able to be funny, charming and uncomfortable at the same time, while still being very much herself. I also found it fascinating how a seemingly humble and sensitive guy like Peeta could so easily slip into a smiling, relaxed role to increase his chances of survival. The chariot scene was a perfect demonstration of the way the two of them were reacting to their situation. Peeta was embracing the reality and trying to work an angle while Katniss was on edge. The moment when Peeta tried to take her hand and Kat swatted him away was a great reflection of their personalities.
Kat’s reaction to Peeta’s “crush” announcement was also awesome, but I liked her coaches’ reactions even more – how they had to explain to her that Peeta was making Katniss look desirable. Peeta was working the crowd in her favor, and it made me wonder if Haymitch had a talk with him and that’s why he shut himself away in his room, or if he decided on his own how to help her get sponsors (while he was shut away in his room) – since he figured he was doomed and he actually did have a crush on her.
I’m curious to hear Katniss’s side of the fake love-story now. I want to know what she was feeling when she actually kissed Peeta. The kiss on the cheek was obviously just for show in order to get the medicine, but I’m curious to see if she’s falling for him at all yet or if she just took Haymitch’s advice to sell the whole star-crossed-lovers bit. It’s obviously real for Peeta, and his persistent care for her may win her over in the end. But at the end of the film, if Katniss is feeling anything, she’s not letting it affect her for the moment, which I feel is consistent with her character and a good place for her to be in the storyline. I think I’d be gagging if she was head over heels for Peeta at this point, despite what they’ve been through together. I like them as just friends for now – at least on her side.
I wasn’t moved by Rue’s death, but I liked the way that Katniss handled the whole Hunger Games. The only time she killed anyone with a weapon was when that one guy shot Rue, which befits Kat’s character and the fact that she’s anti-Games. Even better was the effect Rue’s death had on her district. Mostly, the riots were instigated by the manner of her death, which was amplified by how much respect Katniss gave her by preparing a funeral send off for Rue that was very tender.
The Games made a lot more sense when we found out that part of the reason they continue is because the District One challengers are rich, arrogant volunteer gladiators who are in it for the thrill of the hunt. The others are Reaped and may have been able to make a treaty - like Katniss and Peeta did at the end – if it weren’t for the arrogant murderous snobs. I loved how Kat and Peeta got the power at the end when they made their suicide pact. Not so thrilled about the suicide pact, but I loved the end result. Stick it to The Man! lol. Even if they had died it would be a much more compelling joint suicide than Romeo and Juliet. They’d actually be somewhat justified since the PTB would have sent monsters and disasters to kill them anyway.
I am even more eager to read the books after writing this review. My friends highly recommended the books, and they were pleased with how well the movie was able to use the limited screen time to get the story across, which is a pretty high commendation for a film. Just wait – I’ll probably be posting my thoughts on all three books next week.