Monday, March 26, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favour

I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy this past summer in the span of three days.  Before beginning I had this feeling that I'd go absolutely crazy over them, and I was right.  (I'm always right) After a full day of nonstop reading through the first, The Hunger Games, I sped off to Indigo to buy Catching Fire that was to be completed by the following day and Mockingjay, in two days.  Perhaps my only complaint about the book series is that the books feel too short: they are briskly paced, and a lot does happen, but I found that by the end of the trilogy a little too much happened tacked on at the end for the physical length (take Catching Fire, where there's a sizable amount of people left in the arena with only ten or so pages left to go, or perhaps Mockingjay, where I got the impression that Collins worked hard to cram everything into the three-hundred page framework she'd set up with the first two); naturally I would not complain if more books existed, but everything wrapped up nicely.  All in all, fantastic books series, disturbingly dark once you get past the glossy overlay that the theme of romance has over everything (and it even still it's important to the plot), majorly satisfying by the end, and a great source material for what I can anticipate will be a flawless film series.

The direction for this scene was, "Jennifer, imagine the awe you'll feel when you meet Matt"

With that being said, The Hunger Games was one of the best book-to-film adaptions I can think of aside from the Harry Potter franchise which, I think it's worth mentioning, did take quite a few liberties with its translation.  (regardless they were perfect) How The Hunger Games differs, then, is that I cannot think of things left out of the film by the filmmakers, maybe because it's been a while since I've read the book.  The only details of change I can think of might be Madge, the mayor's daughter, but she's relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things and Katniss finding the pin at the black market was just as good as anything; or maybe the fact that we miss out on a lot of internal feeling and struggle we get with Katniss as the first person narrator, but really, the point of a film is to show and not tell.  Point is, to find inconsistencies is to grasp at straws or at insignificances: in fact, I heard today that a criticism of the movie is that Jennifer Lawrence doesn't look hungry enough to come from District 12, but I think I'd only accept such criticism if the critics were prettier than Jennifer Lawrence is.  (fact: ain't nobody is) I see the spine of the book eyeing me from the bookshelf now and given that the Internet has crashed as I'm writing this, I might just have to pluck it and finish it within hours again.

I can start by saying that I am endlessly thankful that we got Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  Jennifer Lawrence.  This girl is my age and she's already an Academy Award nominated actress - not to mention she's freaking Mystique in my favourite franchise in the world, X-Men, and while I'm ecstatic about her being in both worlds of fantasy I'm afraid Catching Fire and Mockingjay will take precedence over appearing in the First Class sequel especially since it's a case of stand alone star versus ensemble member.  Choose the blue nudity, Jennifer.  The Hunger Games is no exception to her talent.  Thinking about her acting in the movie is giving me chills, specifically the scenes immediately following [spoiler]'s death - I though I might've lost it at that character dying but what made me legitimately emotional was Lawrence's reaction, and she is bloody fantastic.  What could have been a silly film adaption like, oh, I dunno, Twilight (not that the source is scripture..), THG was driven by a powerful performance from a phenomenal actress and I'm more than happy that the film is getting legitimate recognition as a great film (and not just as an adaption) because of her performance.  You always find that, huh?  Well, I do.  The idea that if it's an adaption of a franchise sort of movie, it becomes less like a 'film:' you'll never see something like The Avengers or even Harry Potter given the label of 'the best film of the year' even if, for all intensive purposes, it really is/was.  I'm not saying that THG will get nominated for any massive awards (though I dare say she should be, but she won't, because again, this is an adaption franchise film), but everything about this movie - the technicalities, the performances, the Jennifer Lawrence - screams cinematic perfection.

The rest of the cast was extremely well rounded and similarly great.  Shout out to Elizabeth Banks who nearly stole the show as Effie; similar kudos to Stanley Tucci (I don't think I've ever seen him less than great?) as Caesar Flickerman who actually did steal every scene he was in with that idiotic smile.  Hell, I even loved Liam Hemsworth.  Will I burn in hell if I say that, in his scenes with Jennifer.. I actually supported Katniss/Gale?

I can't quite put a finger on it, but I think I enjoyed the second half of the film - the Games itself - a great deal more than I did the first half, and I found myself straining to love the first half as I watched.  Pace?  Couldn't be: the frenzied passing through the grooming to the training to the interviews was as fast as the book.  Perhaps I wasn't crazy about physically seeing the weird people of the Capitol before me, though again, it was a perfect translation as if the words of the pages made themselves solid onscreen.  The closest I can think of as a reason might be that I don't like the shifting in atmospheres - that is, from a pioneer-like District 12 to a futuristic Capitol with Lady Gaga costumes and back to an earthy and primitive setting as in the arena - but again, I think that's the point.  Enough about that.  As for the Games, I cannot say this any other way: FUCKING PERFECTION.  I am in awe thinking about the second half of the film because, seriously, it was exactly like the book.  Exactly.  It was only when I actually saw kids killing each other with knifes or after seeing dead child bodies hacked up everywhere did it hit me that the concept is downright brutal, but the brutality was spot on and effective.  [spoiler]'s death was very hard to watch, but in comparison to seeing, literally, a hulking Tribute snap a child's neck out of nowhere, a spear through the stomach seemed like a walk in the part.  And so I appreciate the film for entirely encapsulating the brutality and the anxiety and frenzy of the book; even though I knew Katniss would survive the encounters with fire or tracker jackers (this is not a spoiler, fool, she is the bloody protagonist), I still felt the sense of urgent danger.  Run, bitch!

If you've read the book or if you haven't, go see this movie.  Buy into the hype, because it's worth it.  I can't wait to see it in IMAX this weekend.

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