- Welcome to the rare occurrence where I’ve actually read the book the film is based on! A coworker lent them to me last year, saying “You seem like the kind of person who would enjoy post-apocalyptic young adult fiction.” I powered through them pretty quickly and enjoyed them despite the fact that usually I can’t stand stories told in the present tense or the first person (OR BOTH), but they’re also not terribly well written and kind of predictable all over the place so I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily a quality reading experience. Generally speaking, I’d say that the movie is similar, so… faithful adaptation?
- When they announced they were splitting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two films, I feared that the first one would be two hours of Harry and Hermione camping, i.e. boring as hell, but that turned out to not be the case. This movie has the opposite problem, where the page-turning quality of the story is completely sucked out and it drags and drags and drags and, I don’t know, it just didn’t work for me. I know that much of Katniss’ strategy in the Games relies on the skills she learned stalking deer and other animals and so she spends a lot of time lying in wait, but the gaps in action don’t have the same dramatic tension as they do in the books; not sure if this is due to lack of narration, since we’re always inside Katniss’ head in the books, or something else.
- Given how abrasive Katniss is in the book, it didn’t ring terribly true every time someone complained about how unlikeable she was given that they didn’t really play much of that up in the film. Which is fine, I suppose, since she’s a challenging hero to root for at times and I think if they’d made her as hard to like as she is in the book, audiences who haven’t read the series would likely have been incredibly alienated.
- Shaky cam laziness abounded in this. The only part it seemed appropriate was when Katniss got stung by the Tracker Jackers, but otherwise it felt like no one was sure how to shoot hand-to-hand combat nor how to get around the fact that you’ve got to film children killing other children. Shake the camera, use some blood spatters, no one will notice! I mean I get that this is a gruesome thing to commit to film so I understand needing to have most of the deaths take place either off screen or in a fit of visual incoherence.
That said, it was pretty gross when Cato (I think) broke that one kid’s neck.
- I know the fashion of the Capitol is supposed to be ridiculous, but I have a secret fear that people might actually convince themselves it’s okay to have Seneca Crane facial hair in real life.
- I thought Peeta came across as really smarmy during all the various interviews with Caesar, rather than charming or likeable.
- I liked all the behind-the-scenes stuff showing how various aspects of the games are set up to screw the contestants and force them together. Future technology is fun! On the flip side of this, though, I’m not sure we really got a good idea of the truly frightening genetically engineered monstrosities the Capitol created. The Tracker Jackers are lethal, sure, but it’s not impossible to die from hundreds of regular bee stings. The Muttations were significantly lacking; giant and plentiful dogs are scary, but the true horror of what these creatures were was completely ignored.
- I’m not sure you would have put two-and-two together and figured out that Katniss’ dad died in a mining accident if you hadn’t read the book.
- The way Katniss interacted with both Prim and Rue made the girls seem like they were around six years-old. It was odd. I thought Rue was pretty great, though, and loved the part when she told Katniss what to do with the Tracker Jacker nest.
- Stanley Tucci was probably the highlight of the movie. Obviously it didn’t demand much of him and he plays delightfully hammy so well, but still. I actually liked Elizabeth Banks (which is something I never say) and Effie had a couple of funny lines. Lenny Kravitz was largely enjoyable.
- There were a lot of excruciating Gale reaction shots. I know he doesn’t have much of a role in the first book, but every time Peeta and Katniss had A Moment™ and then they cut to Gale’s Face of Woe™, a small snicker would run through the audience. This could have been handled much better.
- This just really didn’t do it for me. The book was at least entertaining, which made me forgive all of the things that prevented it from being truly good, whereas the movie does not manage to do even that. Alas.
Categories: 2.5 Stars