Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Salon: May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favour

After waiting for what seems like an eternity, The Hunger Games movie is finally out! Yesterday, my friend plus my son and his friend purchased our tickets and got comfortable, ready to see the book come to life on the big screen. The cinema was pretty full, and it was interesting to see the mix of ages and cultures who all had come to the movie. I have to say though... no idea why you would bring a four or five year old child to see this movie, but I guess it is up to the parents.

My overall reaction is thank goodness they didn't screw it up. As a stand alone movie, there were a few issues, but it wasn't completely terrible and to be honest, I think that is a fan's greatest fear.

Let's start with the casting. I think that Jennifer Lawrence does a terrific job as Katniss Everdeen, and I can't really imagine anyone else paying her. Similarly, I thought that Liam Hemsworth was good as Gale with the little screen time that he had. Stanley Tucci was awesome as the TV host of The Hunger Games - all teeth and hair and smarmy charm. Woody Harrelson was good as the drunken mentor, Haymitch, and bought a little lightness to some of the scenes that was necessary. I can't remember where but somewhere, someone said that Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was really just Lenny Kravitz  without his trademark sunnies, and that is possibly a fair assessment, but that limitation didn't detrimentally affect the scenes that he was in.

Did I mention that I recently went to see Lenny perform at an early morning freebie performance in the city. The man is like the ultimate rock god! Yum! Anyway...got a bit distracted there.

Source
You will notice that I haven't mentioned Josh Hutcheson as Peeta yet. While I came around to his portrayal of  Peeta, it took me a long time. For the first half of the movie, I just couldn't see it, particularly given that I have read the next two books and therefore know where the story is going. In the end though, I did think that his easy acceptance of his fate and his limitations masked his own emotions and strengths. Part of the reason for that is a visual thing - he's just so much shorter than both Jennifer and Liam!

There are, of course, limitations between the depth of storytelling that you get when you read the book compared to watching the movie but in order to bring the movie at a reasonable length, cuts had to be made. I think that we missed the explanations of things like why Peeta started out in the alliance, we missed District 11 sending a package to Katniss, and the true face of the terror of the creation of the wolves at the end, and I think that the true oppression of the Capitol on the districts didn't come across as well on the screen as it did in the book.

I did think that there were a couple of really good additions that weren't in the book. I really liked that we got to see Haymitch beginning to campaign on behalf of his tributes, and I thought that the control room where the game was run from was really great too!

I am not a huge fan of shaky camera work and I did think that there was way too much of it in the first half of the movie. I expected that kind of thing during the actual games itself, but not before hand. I did also think that the pacing was a bit slow in parts and that it was possibly a fraction too long, but for the most part those are the worst things I can say about it.

I am trying to encourage my non-reader son to read the book. If I didn't think that it would send the wrong message, and if I didn't have dozens of other books to read, I would seriously consider a reread of The Hunger Games about now!

I guess the litmus test of your reaction to a movie is would you watch it again. For me, I would definitely watch this again, either on the big screen or most likely when it is on cable or DVD. The ending definitely left plenty of scope for the sequel. Maybe we will all be anxiously waiting for the release of Catching Fire in 18 months or so.

Speaking of anxiously waiting for a movie, I was pleased to see the first trailer for the movie of Stephenie Meyer's The Host came out at the end of last week. It doesn't have any of the movie in it and won't be out for another year, but I still had to send it to my friend who I know loved the book too. Maybe the next announcement will be a release date for the follow up book that we have been waiting for for so long!








Currently Reading:

Earthly Delights, the first book in the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood, Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter, Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex.

Up Next:

Either The Island by Victoria Hislop or Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.

32 comments:

  1. Jealous you got to see it already, but I'm looking forward to it if it ever comes out in English here. I had no idea they were making The Host into a movie! Loved that book, too.

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    1. The Host is my favourite Meyer novel.

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  2. I'll probably see this on dvd before I get to reading the books.

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    1. Sean, you should definitely read the books - the first one at least.

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  3. I'm taking my kids on Thursday- so glad to hear it was a good adaptation!

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  4. I somehow missed all the excitement over these books--probably because I don't read a lot of YA fiction, but after hearing about the movie and what the books are about I broke down and bought the first one today! I'll have to see the movie when it comes out on DVD.

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    1. Danielle, this is one of a couple of books that I recommend to people who don't read YA and so far everyone who has taken the chance seems to have enjoyed them.

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  5. I am looking forward to seeing this movie soon!

    I also am looking forward to The Host!

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    1. I am definitely looking forward to the Host!

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  6. I went to see The Hunger Games yesterday, too. I thought it was a fantastic adaptation. Like you, I had a few minor issues, but that is to be expected as there is no way a two-hour movie could get everything exactly right. But overall, I thought it was one of the best adaptations I've seen and I'll definitely be watching it again.

    As for Josh Hutcheson as Peeta, as soon as the movie trailers and teasers came out he was Peeta for me. It's as if I realized when I saw him on screen that he looks exactly as I pictured Peeta looking as I was reading the book. I did notice that they filmed the movie so that the height differential wasn't noticeable :-)

    Great review!

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    1. Melissa, I guess I didn't really notice the height thing until I saw the premiere pictures. I wasn't really on board with Josh Hutcheson as Peeta from the beginning.

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  7. I gave my son this book for Christmas a year ago, and it took having the moving coming out for him to finally read it!

    Here's my
    Sunday Salon: Odds and Ends.
    Hope you will stop by!

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    1. The book was out of the house because my friend had borrowed it. He has read the first page and said it was 'good'. I would have thought it was a bit early to tell but you know....

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  8. Should I read the book before seeing the movie, Hunger Games?

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    1. Harvee, I would always say read the books first, but that's just me!

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  9. Great review! We saw the movie last night, and I agree with most of what you said--although I did love Peeta from the beginning. The casting was superb, and I loved Banks as Effie also. As with any book to movie, I have found myself always pretty accepting of what is done, as long as the movie is true to the book, and I think this was done masterfully--even with the few things left out. The shaky camera work bothered me though, and I hope in the next one they tone that down a bit. I really wanted a good look at district 12, and found that 1930's Appalachian Mountain look fascinating.
    Have a happy day!
    *smiles*

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    1. The 1930s style certainly provided a strong contrast to the world of the Capitol!

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  10. I wrote about HG this morning too! I was super impressed by the film. Shaky camera work usually really does me in, but it stabilized enough that I was ok.

    As for the adaptation, I thought it was brilliant. Though there were details left out, I thought what they did with the film really enhanced the story.

    As for the control, that was what stood out most to me and what I wrote about this morning. I think part of that was the Gamekeeper room, which like you, I thought was excellent. It was chilling, and I left the movie exhausted.

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    1. The control room really did give you that idea that it was a game and that it was controlled externally so strongly didn't it!

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  11. I saw it with my step-son last night and we both liked it. Agree there were a few issues - the book certainly has more depth & detail than the movie so I think it's better appreciated if you read the book first. But overall, really liked it - and I don't usually watch movies if I've already read the book!

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    1. Interesting that you don't normally watch the movie if you have read the book. I tend to insist on reading the book first!

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  12. I just finished the book so I can see the movie with my husband. I'm so glad it's been done well.

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    1. It's been a couple of years since I read the book and I think I appreciated that space. Will be interested to hear what you think.

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  13. I haven't seen this yet, but I have been hearing the commentary from those who have. I sense some disappointment, but it seems that overall it's a decent movie. I enjoyed reading your thoughts Marg.

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    1. It's definitely decent, Nicole! There are plenty of more disappointing adaptations around!

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  14. My non-reader son liked Hunger Games!! He brought it home at the beginning of the year and I nearly freaked thinking of the carnage at the end. That's what led to conversations with his teacher on why she thought it was a good book for mid-schoolers. We had a lot of fun discussing his progress every night and he even let me peak over his shoulder and readalong a very little. It was kinda bonding (for me, if not for him!!) I'm very sympathetic about getting non-readers sucked into the joys of reading. Maybe he'd dive into book 2? (ugh?!)

    Thx for hoppin' by my Sunday Salon!!

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    1. Hi Laura. Glad to hear that your non-reader like the book. I am trying to gently encourage rather than nag. Not quite sure how that is going really!

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  15. I too liked Hunger Games this weekend and thought the film was for the most part a good adaptation. It stayed pretty closely with the book but the affections in the film between Peeta & Katniss seem a bit more straightforward than in the book where it's more unclear from the play-acting they do. I also thought Peeta's character a bit more jerky in the book than the always great guy he is in the film. cheers. susan

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    1. Good point about the differences in Peeta's character!

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  16. I saw Hunger Games over the weekend too and I really loved it. I think this is the first movie i have seen after reading the book that i felt completely satisfied that they did the book justice. I agree with you about the casting, Katniss was a perfect match and Haymitch too.
    I was a little unsure about Peeta for most of the movie too, but i felt the same way about him throughout the books- so perhaps they captured the ambiquity of his role well. I was always a Gale fan so it was hard watching him long after Katniss on the big screen when i know where the other two HG installments are going.

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    1. I was Team Peeta, but I was more instantly pleased with the casting of Gale

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