Warning: this movie is NOT for kids (I heard it’s PG-13 in the cinemas). Bring them to The Lorax, or The Muppets, but not here. Do not buy them the books until they’re older because the tone is darker, the fighting more brutal. It is not for the faint of heart (and for those who’ve allowed their kids to watch Battle Royale, well, you must’ve been Japanese to do so). If you do make the mistake of exposing the little ones to this, well, you’ve a LOT of explaining to do. This effort is not to make them sheltered, ungrounded children, but because the timing of emotional maturity in their growth is important where literature and media exposure are concerned.
I’m very, very pleased with the adaptation.
Bookworms are usually hard to please, especially since we’ve all the background to compare it against. It’s far from reaching the unanimous LOTR epic feedback, but it is good enough. There are quite a number of breathless moments, and even if I already know what’s going to happen, not knowing how or what they’re going to show still adds to the excitement of the wait. Let me break down into bits my positive thoughts about the film.
- Good build-up. Adaptations that fail to satisfy its viewers don’t get the mood/tone and the historical background right. This one did. The gripping drama of the Everdeen family anguish over the ‘reaping’ gave me a heartache. The chime-like music that accompanied the scenes gave me the creeps because it sounded like a psychological thriller, and Effie Trinket’s wildly colorful garb and piping happy voice looked very OFF amidst the washed-out hues of the somber crowd. Something looks terribly wrong with the picture, right? After Katniss volunteers, everything seems like a whirlwind of curious events. Well, it was really that, even in the book. It’s surreal for katniss and Peeta to be transported into a progressive and wealthy world, being presented with the excess and opulence that shell-shocked their impoverished sensibilities. Think of wagyu beef before their slaughter…
- Stellar performances of the cast. Jennifer Lawrence is intense as Katniss, the family breadwinner and protector of children. It’s plain to see the eldest child syndrome in her (Mulan is that you?). She also does a very good job of acting socially inept with her instant fame and fortune that her awkwardness is almost funny. The kids who played Primrose and Rue (as played by Willow Shields and Amandla Stenberg) are so pure and childlike that the tragic circumstances make it really heartbreaking for them to experience it. It tugged at my heart so badly I was moved to tears. It was comical to see bald guys Stanley Tucci (Ceasar) and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) sport long hair. Tucci played the perfect tv show host and Harrelson still made an impact even if I wished Haymitch was portrayed as the worst drunk you’ve ever seen. Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket is fit to a T. I wish she had more exposure as Miss Manners! Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is a bit amusing (‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ was playing in my head), and he made his contribution to the narrative by showing how some Panem people still have hearts when he bade goodbye to Katniss.
- Visually entertaining. The costumes were extravagant! In my head, the term was futuristic, but all the murmurs I could hear from people were that they all looked Gaga-ish. Blame it on the icon to limit the genre to that, haha. The grandness of Panem was magnificent. It was nothing I’ve ever imagined, and it’s just fun to be spectators of spectators in their reality show called the Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta’s entrance into the stadium with fire trailing behind their backs like capes (along with the Olympic-sounding music accompanying them) made me giddy with joy. Wow. Katniss’ gown of fire was cute (twirly girl). The cuteness though, stops here. When the Hunger Games commenced, it was good that the audience caught a glimpse of the sophisticated technology that controlled the environment of the games. Touch screens, holograms-turn-real gameplayers, whoa! Hand in hand with the digital effects of the movie, the good use of action shots and film directing techniques gave a glimpse of the games on a first-hand basis. The trackerjack hallucinations were so awesome they actually made me feel a bit dizzy too.
I know I haven’t mentioned either Peeta or Gale in this review, because if there’s anything that’s amiss in the movie, it’s that they’re in the wrong roles (in my humble opinion). Physically, Liam Hemsworth is built like Peeta in my imagination (and he has blonde hair) and Josh Hutcherson as Gale. Hmm, I’ll re-read the books to know if I misunderstood things correctly, but that’s just me. I also wished that the there was more explanation on the circular area/circumferential bit on the arena. It just seemed like a huge, endless forest wherein it was supposed to be a huge “pie” wherein every hour something will happen to that specific area or “slice”. Living conditions in the book were deadlier, habitable areas getting smaller and smaller to bring the tributes closer together and to make the process of elimination much faster. The book’s more Darwinian.
Anyway, it’s good enough to merit a second look. I wanna watch it again!