I’ll preface this by saying that I am not obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy. I thought HG was good. Poorly written, sure, but I enjoyed it. Catching Fire was worse. At best, it’s forgettable. And Mockingjay took me months to get through because it was so dull. Anyway, I was actually expecting to enjoy the movie. I wasn’t overly attached to the book so I was open (for the first time, like, ever) to the movie adaption taking some liberties. The story told in this book had the potential to be really, really powerful as a film.
And……well. I’ll start with what I liked, okay?
- Seeing the inner-workings of the Game. This is something I always wondered about while reading the books, so it was cool to see the Gamemakers in their element actually controlling things.
- Jennifer Lawrence. I just like her and I think she did a good job.
- Seneca Crane’s beard.
- The scene were Katniss volunteered in place of Prim and the scene where Rue died. (These were, actually, the only scenes that made me feel anything.)
- The trackerjacker flashback of Katniss yelling at her catatonic mom. I felt this was a good, quick way to show what Katniss and Prim went through after their dad died. It’s not how I pictured the trackerjacker scene going, but I thought it was a clever way to handle that aspect of Katniss’ past.
- The trailer. Yes, I’m including the trailer here. The trailer made me feel more than the whole movie. It was very well edited.
Unfortunately, there was a lot that I disliked.
The handheld shaky-cam effect (used heavily in the beginning of the film, but consistently throughout) made me want to punch someone repeatedly in the face. Preferably the director. Come on, dude. I know you put a ton of time/money/effort into the set, the extras, the makeup/costumes, NOW CAN I ACTUALLY SEE SOME OF IT PLEASE. I understand the reasoning BEHIND doing it, and it did work well for some of the bloodier scenes (PG13 and all) but mostly it just made me mad.
The white-washing of the film as a whole bugged me. This has been hashed over so many times on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc that I won’t get into it…it just deserves a mention.
The plot was confusing and difficult to follow if you haven’t read the books. I had to lean over and explain a few things to my friend (who hasn’t read HG) as we watched. Obviously, most people who go to see this movie have read or heard a lot about the books, but a movie that relies heavily on its audience knowing about its plot doesn’t usually come out too well. Take the Harry Potter franchise, for example. You can watch those movies without ever having touched one of the books and you’ll do just fine. For a movie that is 2.5 hours long, I expected a bit more..coherency, I suppose.
One of my biggest issues, though, is that Katniss as a character works really well as the narrator of a book. She does NOT work well as the main character of a movie. Her whole characterization is based on the fact that she is an incredibly introverted person. She doesn’t show emotion, she doesn’t over-share, she keeps everything inside. This did not work on-screen. If I hadn’t read the books, I would have NO IDEA how Katniss felt about Peeta, for example. It’s handled so badly, I probably wouldn’t have known that she was having any reservations at all. Which is like, the whole point of the damn thing.
I felt that the movie tried to include too much, actually, and so things fell really flat. Gale’s reaction to Katniss and Peeta’s relationship comes to mind as a good example. We know nothing about Katniss/Gale except for a few short scenes in the beginning. Without Katniss’ inner-monologue, the complexities of their relationship get completely lost, and Gale just ends up looking like a moody randomer watching TV and brooding.
What I came away with was disappointment, mostly. This movie had the potential to really make me a sobbing mess. (I cry over Pampers commercials, for crying out loud.) But it didn’t. Mostly I felt nothing while watching it, and considering that I’ve read the books and am already invested in these characters, I think that says something. Something bad.