Monday, April 02, 2012

The Movie

If you haven't been living in a cave, you've probably heard of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. The movie came out last week, and I went to see it this weekend.  Since you asked so nicely, I'll share my opinion with you.

I loved it.  Loved loved it.  I thought it was a really enjoyable, action-packed, thoughtful movie that did a great job of adapting the book.  Movies that are respectful of their source books often fail because a film can't tell a story the same way as a book; hitting all the same scenes does not make all the same points.  The adaptation here was really wonderful; it did a great job balancing the scenes, moment, and tone of the book with the vocabulary of moviemaking.  There weren't any random info-dumps; all the action that took place in Katniss's head was communicated through wonderful acting and judiciously added glimpses of things.  There were some changes made, and some of the moments lost some power (those creatures at the end are a good example of a change), but I can't imagine any other decision that would have been better.

It helps that the plot of the story involves a realty-TV scenario--it gives you the opportunity to have hosts telling audiences things they already know ("One of you will be the winner, and one of you will be out.").  But if you think of all the fish-out-of-water moments--when Peeta and Katniss come to the Capitol, how many explanations about the differences in lifestyle could there be?  But no, the sets and the actors and the banquets speak for themselves.

I also loved that the movie made me think about the same things the book made me think about, only even moreso.  It might be because I went to the movie with friends, and then out to dinner, so we were just sitting around talking about it.  Even though several of us had read the book, we didn't sit down and have a real talk about it.  It made me realize why this would be a good book club book--there's so much to say about it.  The complexity of political systems, the diffusion of power and responsibility, the creepiness of reality TV, the tunnel vision of people who live comfortable lives, the factors that go into rebellion.  A lot of issues about group psychology, rebellion, power trips.  I thought of this story from This American Life, of a lot of other YA dystopian novels about oppression, of a million things.

It was great to see the movie with one friend who had read the series (as I had), one who had read just the first book, and one who had read none.  We could discuss the different things we saw in the stories--how material was added to set the first movie up for the sequels a little more cleanly than the book did.  I thought it worked well for what it had to do, but I think it played into a weakness in the trilogy overall, which is that a large, cultural problem that would be almost impossible to solve neatly is gradually simplified into something where a bad guy can be identified and fought against.  It makes the story a little less complex, but it makes it work better on the scale it's going for, so I don't hold it against anyone.

I wasn't able to get the nail polish before going to the show, which I'm really ridiculously disappointed about; I was going to do a French manicure with Smoke and Ashes as the base and Electrify for the tips.  But aside from that was an incredibly enjoyable, satisfying, thought-provoking, action-packed movie experience, and I really can't wait for the next one.  I suspect I'll like the sequel movies better than I liked the rest of the books. 


Linden said...

I saw it last week, and didn't love it as much as you did. Part of it may have been the shooting - I really don't like that jerky, nausea-inducing camera style.

I was also sort of disappointed in the amount of internal struggle that we see from Katniss. If you don't know the back story, it looks like a pretty typical teenager-falling-for-the-guy, with little sign that it's being done deliberately.

And FYI - my book club did read the trilogy as summer reading not too long ago. I hear it was a good discussion! (I couldn't attend because of a pesky newborn)

Lianna Williamson said...

I made my very "women's lit" book club read it when it was my turn to pick. Most of them had never read any YA or SF, and there were some raised eyebrows. But they LOVED it, all of them. It was without a doubt the biggest hit any book has been in the year and a half of the club. And now we're all trying to get together to see the movie! I was worried enough about it sucking that I considered not going, but you've talked me into it.

LibraryHungry said...

Linden, I disagree. I thought it was clear all the way to the end that she didn't love Peeta, or at least wasn't sure of or happy about the fact that they were considered a done deal. I think that in the moment her decisions communicated less "faking it" than the book did, but I think it did a good job with what it had.

You know, I think I've been in too many book clubs that were about craft, because they were populated by writers. I forget about talking about the ideas raised in a book--HG was absolutely fabulous for that. But look out, Lianna, because Linden's right--the shaky cam is INSANE.