Saturday, March 24, 2012
Reading Penguin Goes to the Movies: Hunger Games
I don't know why I'm always surprised to see families with very small children at movies like this. It's PG-13, not R, so it's not like it's going to contain anything that traumatic, but you would think the subject matter would make some parents think twice. Whatever the case, we sat in front of a family with three girls, the youngest of which was definitely Kindergarten age or younger, and I worried about noise or seat kicking from them. Surprisingly, the worst that happened was multiple mid-movie bathroom trips.
The truly annoying movie goers were the two college age girls next to me, one of whom had apparently read the book and one of whom had not. The reader spent the entire movie explaining the plot to the non-reader in glorious detail. Everything from details that were only in the book, to stuff that the movie had already explained. I have a low tolerance for people who talk during movies. It gives me the urge to throw things and shout and stab people. And frankly if your too dumb to follow plot lines, you shouldn't go to public movie theaters. Josh hadn't read the book, and he was able to follow. He had a few questions after the fact, but it's not like he was lost.
So that was the movie going experience...what about the movie? I don't even feel like I need to say "It wasn't as good as the book!" because they almost never are, and I went in knowing that. It does take pains to stay pretty close to the source material, which is almost detrimental in this case. Josh's one major complaint was that there were "pacing issues", because it takes such a long time to get to the actual Hunger Games. All of the slower bits and the details of Katnis and Peeta getting reaped and preparing for the games, those things that work really well in the book for fleshing out their characters and making them more sympathetic, feel like filler in a movie setting.
The characters were pretty freaking close to how I pictured them. I felt they picked a good actress for Katnis. No complaints about everyone else. Josh felt that Ceasar and Effie Trinket were "Hammy and over the top", and no amount of my explaining the Capitol attitude and fashion sense could make him see them as anything other than ridiculous. The Capitol did look like they filled an auditorium with anime cos-players, and perhaps that did come across as unintentionally funny.
I liked seeing the gamemakers in action, which of course is missing from the book, since it's told from Katnis's point of view.
The most flawed thing about the movie is the editing and camera work. I'm no expert, but it seems like they made some odd choices there, either in an attempt to create a stylized feel, hide the violence so they could keep their PG-13, or some combination of the two...There were a lot of abrupt, quick cuts, which makes it feel like they're Punctuating. Every. Word. of the. Sentence. And a lot of shaky camera, which was there way of making the violence less overt.
One more comment about the audience: at the end, when the announcer says "Here are the winners of the 74th Hunger Games!" our audience cheered. Guys, I think you missed the point. You're acting like the audiences in the Capitol, who we're supposed to be disgusted with. Our main characters are facing a lifetime of PTSD induced nightmares. Also, cheering at movies is stupid.
Overall, I thought the movie was a solid 3.5/5, and admittedly a lot of the enjoyment came from seeing characters I already like on the big screen. Josh kept using the word "okay" which I interpret to mean average, so I guess his non-reader rating would be more like a 2.5/5. We recommend it, but try not to sit next to illiterate dumb asses.