Friday, 23 March 2012

THE HUNGER GAMES


If you've never heard of The Hunger Games, which I genuinely don't think is possible, stop reading now and go order a copy of the book. Seriously, right now. I'll wait.

Done it? No, of course you haven't, but you should.

So, the film. The long-awaited, highly-anticipated film. First, let me just say that I have this slight tendency to get too excited about a film and build it up in my head so that the actual film could never in a million years live up to my expectations. I think that's what happened here.

Don't get me wrong, it's not bad. It's just not as good as I wanted it to be.

Let's focus on the positives. Since the book is entirely written in first-person from Katniss's perspective, and she spends a lot of time alone and therefore thinking rather than talking out loud, I wondered how they would manage to bring this to big screen (I think this is one of the many problems that the Twilight movies had). I was quite impressed with how it was handled here. Because the titular Hunger Games is/are(??) a televised event, it/they has/have (okay, I'm gonna just go with whatever feels right now, 'cause this is stupid) a similar type of coverage to a big sports event - they have commentators. Caesar Flickerman is the master of ceremonies of the Games, and can chime in with a bit of information whenever something needs to be explained to the viewer. It is a tad irritating, but I think it's a very clever solution to a potentially huge problem.

I also liked the scenes they added in, the bits that weren't in the books. Naturally, there are bits missing, occasionally a whole character has been omitted (seriously, fans of the book will be annoyed by a pretty big change within, say, two minutes of the film starting), but the film works without them. You can see why certain things have been cut. It's a long movie, it runs at about 2 hours 15 minutes by my watch, and if they'd included everything it would have been about four hours long. What normally irritates me, though, is when huge things are cut and pointless new scenes are added in. Yes, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the House that Burns Down for No Apparent Reason, I'm looking at you. But in the Hunger Games, I liked the new stuff. They're setting up for the trilogy, quite obviously, and so both President Snow and Seneca Crane have greater presences. You also get to see the Gamemakers at work, which I found really interesting. It's worth remembering that Suzanne Collins is credited as being a co-writer of the script, instead of just coming in every now and then to make comments. Which is what I imagine other authors do.

And there is very little time devoted to lengthy, dull flashbacks. Yay. I'm growing to loathe flashbacks.

The negatives, then. This is going to be hard to do without spoiling it for people who haven't read the books or seen the films yet. Basically, not enough time is devoted to character development, and so I was unaffected by any of the deaths that occur. Any of them. Of course, two of the three people I was watching the film with cried, but I think this says more about them than it does about me. Suffice it to say, the film seems somewhat shallow, because much of the characterisation has been lost. I understand why that is, and I figure it probably would have been a bit boring to have all the characters sitting around and telling you all about themselves, but it has definitely lost something here.

That being said, I love Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. I wish we'd seen more of them. I'm sure we will in the next two films, but it would have been nice in this one.

And as for the ending...well, I think I need to have another read of the last chapter in the book, because I'm not sure they did the ending justice at all, but that could be my faulty memory. I read the books consecutively in a short space of time, so they've all kind of blurred. I'm looking forward to reading them again slowly.

So...yeah, not bad at all, just not as good as I wanted it to be. A solid 8/10, methinks.

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