Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Watching the trailers before this movie, I started getting nervous. The trailers are often tuned to the expected audience for the movie. You won't see a trailer for "Doug's First Movie" before any "Saw" movies or "Final Destination" before anything with that blonde who used to be on "Gray's Anatomy". They started with a trailer for "The Host" which is based on one of Stephanie Meyer's non-Twilight books. The second trailer was for "Snow White and the Hunstman" which I hadn't realized stars Bella from the Twilight movies. I knew "The Hunger Games" books were popular among teens, but I thought it was more like Harry Potter books which generally popular. I was reassured when the third trailer turned out to be for "The Avengers". Then something else that made zero impact on us. Finally, there was a trailer for part 2 of the final Twilight movie. As the movie started, I just kept reminding myself that they were expecting people who would want to see "The Avengers" and crossed my fingers.

It turned out that I had very little to worry about. "The Hunger Games" has the general appeal that I expected it to have.

If you're unfamiliar with the books, and can't tell from the title, "The Hunger Games" is about a contest in which a bunch of teenagers are forced to compete with each other. Some decades after a failed revolution, two teens from each of the twelve districts are selected each year to go into an arena that looks like wilderness and fight to the death. Twenty four people enter, one person leaves. The winner gets to survive (and their district gets double the food, but the movie failed to mention that).

The movie does a decent job of explaining things, but often you need to take a line from this scene and a line from that scene to piece it together. One guy has his name in the drawing 42 times, but why he has all these entries doesn't become clear until our heroine is saying goodbye to her sister.

I enjoyed this movie. It was a good idea well executed. There were good performances all around. I look forward to seeing the next two movies in the series and will probably borrow Yummy's copy of the book.

P.S.: I started reading the book last night. There are things the book explains better, but other things are presented better in the movie. The wording in the book is clearly aimed at pre/early teens. Some relationships are presented as platonic for the younger audience of the book and romantic to enhance the drama for the movie. The movie had to have good writers who thought about the story, not just transcribing the book. The book has very little dialog. The writers for the movie had a lot of work to do. The look of the city and the people was something the writers and directors had to dream up. You may want to do both the book and the movie. If you have kids aged 10 or so these would be good for getting them to think about the differences between the two and why they were changed.

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