As always, I’ll be keeping this as spoiler-free as possible. The Captain hates spoilers!
The short version:
The movie was great, go see it! But read the book first to fill in the missing internal monologues. Imagine, if you will, watching Dune without the voice-overs. Yeah. So read the book and go see the film, enjoy
The long version:
I was first introduced to The Hunger Games at Comic-Con by Nancy during a fun charge through the main floor to try to secure a mockingjay pin from their booth. While an unsuccessful hunt, I was still struck by her enthusiasm. She encouraged me to read the series before the movie came out, and by this point I trust her opinion such that I’ll read “On The Watching Of Paint Dry” if she recommends it as good. As it turns out, the series is excellent! Sure, it’s a Young Adult series, but don’t hold that against it too harshly. What do you think Harry Potter started as?
The Good: Say what you will, but I thought the casting was done well. They’re good looking without being *too* good looking, and whomever cast Lenny Kravitz as Cinna should win an award. Like right now, hand it over to them–he nailed Cinna. The perfect mix of sadness, hope, and almost-fatherly love. Additionally, the scenery is worth pausing the movie for just to admire: the coal town is gritty and destitute, the hob looks like any market in the 3rd world, and the crowd scenes of The Capitol would make any Roman nod in approval. Ego amare purpura capillos!
The Bad: So why did I mention the book so much? Because to get the full effect of the movie, you’re going to want to of read the book first. On its own, the film stands as a slightly choppy, fast-paced, pseudo-documentary, art house action film. Good times I say! But, as mentioned above, better if you have the missing internal dialogues from the book to fill in EXACTLY what Katniss is thinking in any given scene. There is so much happening in the background with the tactics, the trying to figure out what people want her to do, and the terrible emotional struggle that the movie simply does not have time to get into.
The Ugly: How do you fit a book with this much detail into only 2.5 hours? This will make an excellent mini-series someday, but for now we have a movie trying to jam in a massive about of fine details into too short of time. The result is a film that feels rushed, almost jumpy. I can see a viewer getting lost if they haven’t read the books to fill in the gaps. I had previously complained that the book was too fast paced, making the movie seem to be like watching a highlights reel by comparison. Also, one bad moment of CG (ugh) and a poorly done pyro sequence. But I’m nitpicking.
The Beautiful: The sound. Or, should I say in many cases, the LACK of sound. Wonderful, nay, devastating in some scenes. There’s barely any soundtrack to distract from what is nearly an art-film. There are a couple scenes where the sudden absence of sound or the overriding sound that Katniss is hearing does what no soundtrack could ever do to push through the emotion of the scene. Some say that the way it was filmed, the closeups intermixed with long shots, was distracting. But, personally, it reminded me of Kurosawa–and Kurosawa is GOD. So I’ll mark the style down as artistic once you get used to it.
Overall? Go see it! Read the book first! Maybe we can get #2 and #3 made….
I also wanted to say that this Team Peeta and Team Gale thing is stupid. Her feelings for them are not that cut and dry. Sure the movie doesn’t have time to go into it, but in the books it’s more than clear the struggle she’s going through with her feeling for both of them. It’s just a Twilight simplification of a significantly more complex and believable love triangle.
The Captain has spoken, back to your stations!