Okay, so I was one of the lucky buggers that got to a screening of The Hunger Games earlier this week. And since I had to sign a “journalist agreement” to keep my damn trap shut before opening day, I waited. Which for me is difficult because I am basically a tall 5 year old with really old-looking skin. But…Happy Hunger Games, y’all! Let’s get this party started!
But first, a warning: I WILL BE DISCUSSING THE FILM, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
Seriously. Lots of ’em. Tons.
Spoiler Alert. Woot, woot, yada yada.
Really. Don’t read if you haven’t seen the film and want to go in with a clean slate.
Still with me? ‘Kay. Here goes my list of things worth of a three-fingered salute, and those that deserve a tracker-jacker:
Three Fingered Salutes:
* Rue: ZOMG Rue. She’s perfect. I about melted when I saw her onscreen, even though I had read the press about her casting. Amandla Stenberg took one of the Hunger Games’ sweetest characters and knocked it out of the park. Bravo. Which leads me to….
*Rue’s death: If you read the books & didn’t shed a tear at this scene, you are probably President Snow. Katniss holding a dying Rue, singing to the little girl as she gasps her last breath? Heartbreaking. And when Katniss surrounds Rue with flowers and gives a three-fingered-salute to the cameras/District 11, it’s as if Collins cranked up “Eye of the Tiger”. And it’s all in the movie, every bit of it.
* Woody Harrelson: The film doesn’t show Haymitch’s transformation from District 12 drunk to a man who actually cares about his tributes (and who is still a wee bit addicted to the boozy), and that’s a bummer. But Harrelson does a great job with what he’s given, and although I was firmly in the Hugh Laurie camp before the casting news came down, gotta give it to Woody for making me change my mind. Looking forward to seeing more of Haymitch in the sequels.
* The Cornucopia: Da-yam. Think that this movie is gonna pull punches because Hollywood is now a bunch of politically correct wussies? Think again people. It’s violent, disturbing and completely in your face. With close-ups and angles that keep viewers in the thick of things, this scene is a gut punch. A little less shaky-cam (see Tracker Jackers), but otherwise? Whoa.
* Chemistry: Peeta and Katniss, they gots it. And to be fair, there’s a spark between Katniss and Gale too, but I’m a huge Peeta and Katniss shipper, so yeah. To steal from my “official review” (which I’ll post later), Hutcherson’s Peeta does such a great job conveying the love he feels for Katniss that Gale doesn’t really stand a chance. So the love triangle is kind of a dead deal. At least for now….
* Peeta: And here we have my inappropriate crush. The character, not the real-life person y’all. I like orange, but not in the form of a jumpsuit. KnowwhatI’msayin’? (Plus, the actor’s IMDb photo makes him look like kind of a douche. What? I’m not wrong y’all, and his agent needs to step up and swap that photo for one that doesn’t make him look so smug.) Peeta is such a sweet, faithful bundle of awesome that I couldn’t help wondering if Katniss wasn’t a little bit brain damaged because she’d never really noticed him before.
* Over-use of shaky-cam: The S.O.B. that decided if one bit of shaky-cam footage would be good, tons of scenes with shaky-cam would be even better…. No, bad dog. Seriously, after awhile I was getting pretty ticked off. Yes, I know that this film is PG-13, so a lot of cut-away shots are necessary or else this would have ended up side by side with Hostel. But the spinning, out of focus shots during serious moments of the film drove me nuts. I loved a bit here and there — it really makes for great point-of-view moments for the audience — but someone needed to step away from that particular effect and just get on with the movie.
* No hot chocolate: Two of my favorite bits in the novel aren’t in the film, and this is one of ’em. Yes, putting every little bit that was lovely in the books into the movies would make ’em 6 hours apiece (not that I’d mind…). But Peeta, a kid from District 12 that has never been outside of abject poverty, getting to try hot chocolate for the very first time? It made me tear up and grin like a kid when I read it. It would have been a wonderful scene, and could have been done quickly too.
* No bread from District 11: Aaaand here’s the second bit. When Katniss and Peeta are suffering in the Games, District 11 sends them a loaf of bread. “What must it have cost the people of District 11 who can’t even feed themselves?” As with Peeta’s hot chocolate, this scene teared me up big time. And it also sets the stage for the revolts throughout the Districts. Okay, so we get to see the actual riot in District 11 — talk about the re-burning of Atlanta — but the bread was a Very Good Thing that would have been nice to see. I would also like a pony, just so we’re clear.
* Not enough Cinna: Seriously, what gives? He’s a big part of getting Katniss to be more than just so much fodder for the Capitol, it’s a shame we don’t see much of him. Lenny Kravitz does a wonderful, low-key portrayal of this amazing character, so seeing more of him would have been nice.
That’s all I’ve got for now; I’m too busy nurturing the glowing ball of happy that I’ve had ever since I’ve seen the movie. A repeat viewing this weekend may be in order. Happy Hunger Games to one and all — and may the odds be ever in your favor!