I don’t think I would have wanted to have seen the movie after reading any reviews, so if you haven’t seen it yet and plan to, it won’t hurt my feelings if you want to skip this blog post.
Let me say right off away that my girl and I liked the movie. We enjoyed it, we were not disappointed. Now on to a few paragraphs of Buts. . .
Apart from any differences from the book to the movie, which I’ll get to in a bit, my enjoyment of the movie was absolutely diminished by the weird camera work. Which is to say, I would have liked it a whole lot more if it didn’t feel like it was filmed with an iphone through a keyhole. I am not a fan of the shaky, shifting focus, up-close filming style, I am not. Maybe the director wanted viewers to feel as if they were experiencing Panem first hand, but I just felt frustrated, and a little headachey. I understand why they might have used that style of filming for the particularly violent scenes, to provide the intensity of fighting without the actual graphic depictions that would’ve nudged the movie from a PG-13 to an R. But the whole thing was that jumpy and close. It felt claustrophobic and chaotic to me. I kept wishing that the camera would pull back, I wanted to see more.
How is the movie being received, I wonder, by those who did not read the book? Because I’m not sure the movie was successful as a stand alone; I definitely relied on my previous understanding of the characters to color my response to the movie. I was fine with all of the casting, despite dubious thoughts going into the movie. Stanley Tucci as Caeser Flickerman was brilliant, perfect, couldn’t have imagined him better! Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was an excellent match. I appreciated the disgusting insipidness of the Capitol come to life and the gray dreariness of the districts. I think the movie was fairly spot-on, visually (even if I thought Katniss’s leather jacket before she becomes a Tribute looked like something I bought at the mall in 1995, chunky zipper and all). What was missing for me was her motivation, what makes Katniss hard and capable and different? The books describe this pretty well, but the movie relied too much on Katniss’s relationship with her sister, which just didn’t seem that compelling to me, especially minus the poignant recollection of her dead father’s influence and legacy.
I don’t think the sheer danger of Katniss’ hunting jaunts was emphasized enough, nor the risks she took in bartering her kill at The Hob. We know that the symbolism of the Mockinjay pin only increases with the sequels, but having Katniss just kind of come across it at the market, instead of being given it by an admiring acquaintance, makes it seem less important to me. I think the plausibility of the pin as a symbol of widespread revolution will be hard to believe in the future follow-up movies.
Would it have killed the director or screen writer to spend a few extra minutes having Katniss and Peeta get to know each other? They barely spoke during the Games, which makes me wonder how the Sponsors ever believed they had a burgeoning romance happening at all. Where was the story about Prim’s goat? The movie surprised me by hitting all major plot points, and I don’t feel like anything really important was left out, except for character depth. Maybe I expect too much.
And how is it that Donald Sutherland, who in real life probably creeps out the barista at his neighborhood drive-thru coffee joint because he’s just so smarmily creeptastic, managed to play President Snow without being nearly creepy enough? I needed less powerful old guy and more sinister scary guy if I’m going to consider him a villain in the next movie.
I think that covers it. My girl and I had a good time seeing it at the midnight opening; it’s not often that this old lady is out so late and certainly not with my thirteen year old daughter. She and her dad are going tomorrow, she’s fairly chuffed to be viewing it twice on opening weekend. Even though she’s the Hunger Games superfan in the house, and I was sure she’d be involuntarily shouting out differences from the book what we watched, I’m the one who talks during movies and she did, I confess, have to shush me more than once. The husband will make a much better silent companion.