Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Hunger Games

It's an obvious choice for my first post but although I love The Hunger Games, not all of my reviews will be about new releases or popular films because I like watching a variety of films; old and new. So hopefully there will be something for everyone! I read the first book of the series before seeing the film and then read the next two (which were also incredible!) but gave me a different perspective on the film and the story.
Both the Harry Potter and Twilight series have been compared to The Hunger Games a lot but personally I think their main similarity is that all three are hugely popular teen fantasy series; other than I think they couldn’t be more different. To be honest I didn’t warm to The Hunger Games as quickly as I did with Harry Potter but when I was five I fell in love a lot easier.  However the void in my heart when the series ended needed filling and I picked up The Hunger Games, at my friends while she was asleep and read half the book before she was awake. This was way before it had got popular and I had never even heard of it; I was just bored. Little did I know how amazing it was going to be and I laughed and sobbed my way through all 374 pages. (I read the whole thing again the week before I saw the film just to be prepared!) Anyway, it was not an easy book to read but I literally had to have it dragged out of my hands. Personally I think Susanne Collins has done an amazing job of creating an imaginative world filled with characters you can relate to and adventures you can only dream of. Also, now that she’s following in JK Rowling’s footsteps in being a multimillionaire hopefully she will be as generous with her money to a lot of good causes.

Now back to the film which was supposed to be the point of this review. One of my favourite things about The Hunger Games film was the really beautiful shots of the forest and the arena, as obviously a big part of the story is the element of nature in the characters’ lives. The filming was exciting and dramatic and despite the obvious time constraints the plot was handled well and clearly explained. However, the entire group I saw it with had read the book and I have heard that for the uninitiated it can seem a bit confusing. But what better reason then go home and get reading?
I was really impressed by Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Katniss Everdeen. There was a huge amount of pressure on her to get it right, and although she isn’t “my” Katniss, in the same way that Emma Watson, as brilliant as she is, isn’t “my” Hermione, I thought Jennifer played her role with strength, intelligence and made a very moving and convincing Katniss. The reviews, some of which I’ve read, suggesting that she was too “curvy” to play a starving girl; I thought had completely missed the point. Katniss isn’t really a child, she’s 16, and has been providing for her family for years. She’s a huntress and as she herself pointed out: “Kate Moss running at you with a bow and arrow isn’t scary!” Finally I just think it’s quite sad that the debate over a film or an actress is always made to be about size or appearance. No, it’s not completely realistic, but when such a strong female role model finally appears on screen I think we should be celebrating rather than criticising something so irrelevant. And if we’re going to be picky, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) were also too muscly to be believably poor and hungry but hey, I’m not complaining if you’re not.
The three main chacters: Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth).
My second favourite performance was Lenny Kravitz’s Cinna. I thought he gave such an incredible depth and gravitas to his character and really honoured Cinna’s small but crucial role in the plot. I also totally fell in love with him – who didn’t? The gold eyeliner was also exactly how I imagined it – a small detail but I felt that as the producers had got that right, it boded well for their treatment of crucial moments from the books that many fans were anticipated being spoilt or done wrong on screen. This was also a great example of all the fantastic costume design and creativity displayed in the film. For me, the excesses of the Capitol were slightly overdone and distracted a bit from the tension of the scenes in preparation for the arena but overall, and especially for the main characters I think the costumes suited them perfectly and helped to bring the story to life and convey the strange world they were living in.
The gorgeous Cinna (played by Lenny Kravitz).
Many of the supporting characters were also powerful forces in the plot. Prim, the little sister who is the reason for Katniss’ descent into the arena was very moving and convincingly acted by Willow Shields and I was stunned to discover she is only 11. Out of the other tributes: Clove, Cato, Thresh and Foxface were particularly memorable as well as Rue (13 year old Amandla Stenberg) whose death was so important in understanding Katniss’ defiance of the political nature of the Games. I also thought Rue and Prim would have made a great team if they had ever had the chance to meet, and weirdly both actresses reminded me in different ways of my sister and I really related to Katniss’ protectiveness to the characters. I don’t mind admitting that it was these two plotlines that made me get more emotional than the love triangle, which sadly was something that came across more powerfully in the books, as when reading it you feel more connected to Katniss’ thoughts and emotions about the situation than when you just see it visually. Hopefully this is something that will be improved by the time Catching Fire and Mockingjay appear on our screens.
The two young stars: 
Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen.
Amandla Stenberg as the mysterious Rue
from District 11.

On the other hand, I felt a bit cheated by the end of the film. It was quite rushed from the victory in the arena to the start of the credits and could have been fleshed out a lot more with exploring the after effects of the shocking twist at the climax of the Games. This may have been a conscious decision, in order to have more anticipation for the next film, but personally I’m already counting down to it! There would have been nothing wrong in my opinion in also adding some more details or explanatory stuff throughout. The film wasn’t ever going to be exactly like the books and I think many people hoped it wouldn’t attempt to be too exact. I think it’s always more interesting to see other people’s ideas brought to life on screen in an adaptation as well as the authors original vision. Overall I loved the film and enjoyed seeing the interpretation of Suzanne Collins amazing book on the big screen. I can’t wait to see Catching Fire!

(All images sourced from Google.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments - they make me smile and I promise to try and answer them all :)