So on Good Friday, The Physicist, Bro Physicist, Impending Sister-In-Law Physicist and I went to the cinema and saw The Hunger Games (ironically, because we were all fasting and wanted something to distract us from our rumbling tummies and faint heads). Other Sister-In-Law Physicist had already seen it, and I went to see it again on Tuesday with a uni friend.
We all loved it, particularly those who hadn’t read the book. I was quite happy to see it a second time because the first time I was constantly waiting for things to happen and noticing events that had got left out of the books; I didn’t just sit back and enjoy the film.
Jennifer Lawrence made an excellent Katniss: angry, tough, headstrong and fierce, without ever being aggressive. I know she underwent months of training for all the running and fighting and archery, and it showed – she was very authentic. You understood her strange relationship with her mother, her hardness – it appears perfectly plausible that she says to Gale that she could never have children. She often acted a bit dumb, which was interesting – not how I had imagined her at all but actually more plausible because she gets in trouble a fair bit at the Games for not knowing how to, or not wanting to, play the social game.
I had not imagined Peeta as blond (although, like Rue, his physical appearance is probably described in the book), so that was weird for me for a bit, but Josh Hutcherson pulled off the winsome baker’s boy and the self-sacrificing love for Katniss very well. Gale was missing from the screen too much overall, although I did like that we saw him watching in District 12 when Katniss ramps up the romance in order to get Peeta some help. Fortunately he gets more airtime in the following books.
In a sense, we lost a bit of the narrative power not being inside Katniss’ head the way we are in the book, but it did permit some other behind the scenes moments, such as those between President Snow and Seneca Crane (I have to say, Wes Bentley was very good as Crane – he barely registered as a character in my head from the book)
Some of my favourite scenes:
- Katniss’ demonstration of her skill to the Gamemakers
- The Reaping (harrowing, but excellently done)
- the chariots entering the arena
- Rue’s death and the riot in District 11
Some bits I found missing:
- Peeta’s suffering right at the end of the Games and Katniss hammering on the glass doors trying to get to him, his artificial leg and the interview when Katniss finds out about it
- I thought they might show the interviews with family and friends that is supposed to happen when there are 8 tributes left – I wanted to see Gale interviewed
- Katniss having to fake the relationship with Peeta and then her conflict about him and how she feels about him and Gale and THAT WHOLE ROMANTIC MESS…
Also, when the Physicist and I were walking home, The Physicist realised that the number of deaths didn’t add up to 22: 8 at the “bloodbath” at the Cornucopia, the girl with the fire, the girl who died from the tracker jacket stings, two deaths while Katniss was asleep, Clove at the feast, Foxface from the berries, Thresh at Cato’s hands, and Cato from the muttations, which makes 16. Rue, and the boy who killed her. 18. How did the other 4 tributes die????
Anyhow, a very good film, probably 8 out of 10, and definitely recommended to anyone who has read the books or in fact, pretty much anyone. For all the story draws on the gladiatorial tradition of the ancient Roman empire, it has plenty to say about our materialistic society and our obsession with reality TV…
(in other news, they made a Katniss Barbie. Not sure what to think of it)