The Hunger Games – the movie

For the first time in a couple of years, my boyfriend and I was at the cinema last night and actually got to see a movie, eat popcorn and candy and drink cola – all the things one should do when going to the movies. And of course we chose this year’s probably most talked about movie – The Hunger Games.

I’ve read several reviews of this movie and most have been favorably, some even stating that the movie was better than the book.

Our impression was a bit different. Even though we both enjoyed the movie, we didn’t feel that it surpassed the book. Now, it’s been a while since I read the book but my boyfriend just read it, so we could discuss it from both these points of views.

Like some of the Harry Potter movies as well as The Golden Compas, this movie benefits from having read the book first. There are some things that are not quite clear in the movie, since it only has a bit more than two hours to tell the entire story. I feel that  for instance the character of Haymitch Abernathy, while perfectly portrayed by Woody Harrelson, changes from being not willing to help Katniss and Peeta to suddenly doing everything in his power to help them. If you haven’t read the book, I’m not sure you will pick up on him being a drunk and not only just enjoying a few drinks on the ride back to Capitol.

Also, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is only hinted at in the movie – it isn’t really elaborated on. I guess this will be one of the things we’ll learn more about in the the following movies.

I also missed getting to know more about the tributes. Only a few tributes are more than just future deaths. We don’t have any clue about who they are.

Also, I felt that when Peeta decides he wants to be trained alone, it’s not explained but just put in there to make his announcement of his love for Katniss more effective – but it doesn’t make sense in the movie version that he makes that decision.

I found one of the truly creepy things about the book was towards the end, when the mutts come and they each resemble one of the falling tributes. They didn’t in the movie and I missed that. I did hovewer love watching the gamekeepers at work – I found that to be so effective how they can change the fate of a tribute so easily but starting a fire, bringing down a tree etc.

So the movie is definitely worth watching. The aesthetics and visual qualities of Capitol are truly incredible and striking. They are so avant-garde and the people of Capital behaves so outrageously in their celebration of the games, that the difference between the outer districts and the Capitol really comes through. For them, it’s only a game, the highlight of their year, while to the people of the districts who give up the sons and daughters, it’s a question about life and death.

One thing the movie did exceptionally well was put focus on how much of the Games are decided outside the arena by how many gifts the tributes each got but also – and especially – by how President Snow and the gamekeepers saw fit to have the Games played. This political part was so interesting to follow and the movie nailed this. I’m looking forward to seeing more to Donald Sutherland as President Snow in the following movies.

Also, the character of Rue played by Amandla Stendberg was so sweet and innocent. You really felt for this little girl being put into this arena and it was very believable that Katniss started to take care of her – and that Rue took care of Katniss first. Katniss’ sorrow when Rue dies is portrayed beautifully, her singing of the lullaby as well as taking the time to bring flowers to the dead Rue is heartbreaking.

In fact, this movie contained some wonderful performances by several actors. As stated earlier, Woody Harrelson was perfectly cast. I thought Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was great as well and the little we saw of Liam Hernsworth’s Gale worked too. But my favorite of all was Stanley Tucci. Now, I have had a lot of respect for Stanley Tucci since seeing him in Murder One but he’s so amazing with his blue ponytail in this movie that the scenes with him are some of my favorites. He was just so good! What we did get to see of Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket was great too – she was perfectly dressed for the part and played it so well.

Bottomline is that I was greatly entertained by the movie, I was happy to see it – but the books are better.

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