Hungry for some Hunger Games (movie edition)

Chelsea and I definitely agreed it was worth a Sci-Five!

Ok seriously, I don’t know wtf was up with the audience in my theatre but I couldn’t tell if I was there to watch a movie or at a meeting of the World’s Smallest Bladder Club.  I think the four people in our group were the only people in the entire theatre that didn’t get up to pee at some point.  And don’t even get me started on the couple who brought the newborn baby.

Aaaaaand my bitch session has officially ended, on to the review of Hunger Games!

*The usual warning: I actually do a pretty good job of not spoiling things but if you’re nervous about it, you may want to wait until after you’ve seen the movie to read my review.

Oh, Katniss Everdeen.  I love you so much.  We have a lot in common, you and I. We are both tougher than we look, don’t make friends easily but are fiercely loyal when we do, would do anything for our younger siblings, and are totally clueless when someone has a crush on us.  That is, until they flat out say it…and maybe clap their hands in front of your face and set off a foghorn in your ear.

Oh, Jennifer Lawrence.  I love you so much.  You’re the actress I would have picked to play Katniss and I’m very happy that the powers that be agreed with me.  You bring strength and vulnerability to a role that could easily have been botched by lesser actresses.  Plus your perty.

Oh, Peeta Mellark.  You’re such a sweetheart.  You represent all the guys who are in love with the girls who say “you’re just like my brother!”  You’re quietly supportive and then completely awestruck when the girl finally starts to see you in a different light.  I’ve been that girl who has dated that boy and I root for you.

Oh, Josh Hutcherson.  I feel like I’ve watched you grow up.  You were pretty good in Bridge to Terabithia and even better in The Kids Are All Right.  You’ve turned into quite the charmer.  Your smile is totally adorkable.  I heard about you introducing Liam to White Castle, then playing basketball so hard you both threw up all those hamburgers.  That’s really gross but really funny.  Male bonding is weird.

Oh, Gale Hawthorne.  You’re the guy that the girls who don’t realize how awesome they are feel like they can never get.  You’re a stud but you don’t even know it.  You’re a great friend and you think of that dorky girl as a cute little sister until the day someone else starts to pursue her and then you realize that you’ve loved her all along. I’ve been that girl who has dated that guy too and I root for you as well.

Oh, Liam Hemsworth.  You’re dating Miley Cyrus and I’m not gonna lie, that kind of turns me off.  BUT, you’re Thor’s little brother and you seem really down to earth in all your interviews so I’m willing to look past the Miley Factor.  You’re also kind of ridiculously cute.  Not as cute as your older brother, but you can hold your own.

Other District 12 peeps:

You might recognize Mrs. Everdeen if you watched the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica where Paula Malcolmson played Amanda Graystone. I think she was a good choice to play the mom-with-no-first-name.  She’s excellent at staring blankly and crying.  Primrose Everdeen is a character I totally love and I think that Willow Shields did a fine job portraying her.  She’s got some heavy stuff coming up in the next two films and I hope she’s up to the task.  Woody Harrelson was an inspired choice to play Haymitch, the only Victor that District 12 has ever had.  He provided comic relief but also some very tender moments that I found very endearing.  He came to SFSU when I was a Freshman to talk about SOL (Simple Organic Living) and legalizing marijuana and while Miss Mary Jane is not my thing, I really enjoyed watching him speak.  He struck me as the kind of guy I’d like to chill out and have a beer with (or, in my case, a shot of Jager).

Capital peeps:

Lenny Kravitz was lovely as Cinna, Katniss’s stylist and Capital BFF.  In real life Jennifer Lawrence and his daughter Zoe are best friends (they starred in X-Men: First Class together) so they already had a relationship that could be expanded upon.  I’ve really grown to like Elizabeth Banks.  I didn’t pay too much attention to her early in her career.  I thought she was cute as Betty Brant in Spider-Man but that was about it.  Then one day something clicked and I’ve been keeping an eye on her ever since.  She made for a great Effie Trinket, though I always imagined Effie being even perkier than Banks’ portrayal.  Seneca Crane is a pretty minor character in the books.  They definitely expanded his role for the movie to take full advantage of Wes Bentley and his epic swirly beard.  I love Donald Sutherland.  When I was a kid a TV movie came out called The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and I don’t know why (probably because I’m a huge history nerd), but that movie has always stuck with me.  It stars Sutherland as an aging Confederate Captain who takes Diane Lane as a child bride.  In it he has a cold, calm demeanor with a vicious temper lying just below the surface. Much like President Snow.  President Coriolanus Snow is scary because of all the ways he isn’t scary.  He’s small with slightly snake-like features, he zealously tends his gardens, and he doesn’t raise his voice.  Quiet and calculating, the man literally has blood breath that he masks with the genetically engineered super roses he wears on his lapel.  But the Capitalist of the Year Award has to go to Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman.  Brilliant.

I wrote a post after reading The Hunger Games for the first time in June 2011.  Normally I would reread the book before going to see the movie but I’m right in the middle of A Dance with Dragons and I didn’t want to interrupt so I’m purely going off memory here.  From what I remember the movie follows the book extremely well.  A great film adaptation that I can’t help but feel is owed to Suzanne Collins helping to write the screenplay.  Two things that were different and that I really missed were:

1. The omission of Madge Undersee, the Mayor’s daughter who gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin in the book.  The ties that bind them are eventually revealed in Book 2, Catching Fire and take the story to an even deeper, more emotional level.

2. The dogs at the end of the Hunger Games.  In the movie they are pitbull-type and identical but in the book they are mutts with the mutated faces of the kids who have already died in the Games.  The mutt dogs are meant to be a total mindfuck for the remaining Tributes, as opposed to just being giant scary dogs.

Respect yo

I think that the filmmakers are relying on the fact that you’ve read the book and already know about some of the characters and situations.  Having read the books and not finding it a problem, I know this only because one of the people I was with hadn’t read the books and was very confused by certain parts, like the three-fingered salute.  He wanted to know where the heck that came from and what it meant.  I’m hoping the DVD has deleted scenes like the dubbing of the redhead as “Foxface” so that I know they at least tried to get it in there but just had to cut it for time.  Also, I cried twice within the first 50 pages of the book and probably a dozen times over the course of all three.  There is a true sense of hopelessness and despair that just can’t be captured onscreen.  I got a little verklempt during Rue’s final scene but it didn’t deliver the emotional wallop I was expecting it to and that kind of bummed me out.

Stylistically I thought that the movie was gorgeous.  District 12 was appropriately bleak and made the surrounding woods that Katniss and Gale escape to all the more beautiful.  The Capital was gaudy, though not as much as I expected it to be.  I was expecting to see people with green skin and implanted cat whiskers and whatnot but found that I didn’t really miss them.  The flame effect was nicely done.  For some reason I always pictured their whole bodies being on fire, as opposed to just the head and shoulders.  But that didn’t really bother me.

I really liked the Hunger Games Control Room with its sterile interior and white uniforms.  It kind of made me feel like zombies were going to break out of a holding cell down the hall.  But that’s a good thing (for once) because it means that it was creepy and the idea of people sitting around and calmly deciding how best to kill innocent children is a really creepy idea.

If I have one complaint it’s the shaky cam.  I seriously hate shaky cam.  I saw the movie twice, once closer to the screen and once further back.  Being further back I didn’t notice the shakiness that much and I enjoyed the movie much more.  When I was closer to the screen it gave me a bad headache a la Cloverfield (a movie that I will never watch again despite my love for JJ Abrams and Lizzy Caplan).  So if the filmmakers ever read this (haha yeah right) I implore you, please ditch the shaky cam unless you deem it absolutely necessary for very small parts of the film.

Most of all, this movie got me really, really, REALLY excited for the next two films, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  I can’t wait to see how they handle the Quarter Quell and District 13, etc etc.  Gah! I’m trying really hard not to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read the books yet.  If you haven’t, you really should.  They are technically YA novels but that’s kind of like saying the last few Harry Potter books are for children.  They’re really not.

4.5 out of 5 Sci-Fives!


  1. Mrs Dim and I got to go see this last night. We’ve both read all three books, and loaned them out to friends, liking them very much (though I think “like” is an odd, Facebooky term for it. Such a grim story deserves a different word.)

    We both liked what they’d done with the film, and I almost wish I hadn’t read the book so I could see if it all made sense to a noob. Peeta does refer to the Redhead as “Foxface” just the once I think a few seconds before she turns up (SPOILER!) dead.

    I can’t believe the comments flying around Twitter about people being ‘disappointed’ about Rue being black. That’s just unbelievable, especialy as it mentions her colour in the book. I thought all the characters were well portrayed, though my (admittedly intermittent) memory had Seneca appearing in the second and third books, which doesn’t seem likely given his final scene in the movie….

    Good film, fingers crossed for the sequels. Come on Lionsgate, do something good with all that “twilight” money!

    1. Really? People were upset about Rue?? She’s exactly how she was described in the book! That’s sad. Peeta does mention Foxface but the name “Foxface” comes out of nowhere in the movie, I guess I wasn’t very clear about that 😉

      Seneca does come back…sort of….Katniss reminds the gamemakers about Seneca during her evaluation in Catching Fire in a very memorable way 🙂

  2. yeah speaking of sci-fi used to lampoon greed and class warfare…
    have you seen “In Time”?
    It rocks!

    1. I haven’t! I need to.

      1. Yea In Time was a good movie. I had A LOT of questions on a totally scientific level. Like how did this all start? Why haven’t things been hacked yet…etc.

  3. Mama Jedi Avatar
    Mama Jedi

    i really enjoyed the movie and although I have not read the books, I found the movie pretty easy to follow. I thought Rue’s part was perfect in every way. I thought Stanley Tucci was great and had it not been for his voice, I may have not known who he was as the hair/make up is that good. Jennifer Lawrence totally won me over in her role in “Winter’s Bones”. What an incredible movie everyone over the age of 15 should see. Jennifer had me convinced that she could be that composed and tough in a poor, back woods, somewhat drug infested “town”. As soon as I heard that she had the lead, I knew that “The Hunger Games” was going to be a really good movie. I totally agree with the 4.5 hands and the second movie can not come out soon enough. =)

    1. You would have had an even harder time recognizing Tucci if they’d put blue lipstick and eyeshadow on him like the character had in the books 😉 I’m kind of glad they didn’t do that. It would have been distracting.

  4. I have also read all three books and would be in one hundred percent agreement on your review. I felt that did a great job keeping the story intact and following the book. I have seen some hatchet jobs a la Harry Potter where they can leave out crucial scenes and when they portray something significant later on your like “oh well why is he so sad Dobbie died.”

    The actors chosen fit the parts perfectly I loved Rue she was just as I pictured in the book. Over all I say 4.5 Taped Glasses outta 5.

    1. Dobbie is a perfect example!

  5. I’m very excited to see the movie. I want to re-read the book before I go. Almost everything I’ve read about the movie says how great it is and how close to the book it is. That is always my biggest concern; I hate when it’s tweaked too much.

    Side note: Is this your first read through of A Dance With Dragons? I love ASoIaF, but Dance was my least favorite, especially after having to wait for it for so long. I kind of wish he kept it flowing down a normal timeline rather than having Feast and Dance run concurrently. Nonetheless, I love the series and I’m super excited for the Season 2 premiere. And I’m happy that they made a TV show rather than try to make a movie, it never would have worked.

    1. Dear Danielle,

      do you self a favor
      don’t re-read the novel
      until after you’ve seen the movie.

      That way:
      #1 there are no disappointments and
      #2 when you read the book you’ll see the cast members and sets
      in your mind’s eye.

      Om Mani Padme Hum,
      L. Jigme

      1. Good idea! Thanks 🙂

        1. I learned that the hard way many years ago when “Storm Ship Troopers” was released 🙁

    2. I totally agree about ASoIaF. It has never taken me as long to read a book as it has with ADWD. And I wish he’d kept the timeline intact as well. I’m still enjoying it though 🙂

      And HBO is the perfect home for the show.

  6. Was trying not to fall onto the Hunger Games bandwagon, but it was a pretty great movie! I did not read the books though, so hate on me if you want, but I’m not much of a reader unless it’s for work…Sorry. Hope all of you book readers loved the movie as much as the book though because I though it was fantastic!

    1. In this case, you don’t really have to read the books. The movie follows the book really well. Better than any film I’ve seen since the very first Harry Potter movie. No hating allowed 😉

      1. Agree 100% on the Harry Potter comment NBFF!

      2. Well thank you! And thats good to know, because I was hoping I wouldn’t have to read any books…

  7. Great review NBFF! It seems like our thoughts on the movie were very similar based on both of our reviews. I couldn’t agree more that the movie had Katniss handling the games much easier than the book did… it took some of the tension & despair out of it. I liked that we also agreed that it sucked they didn’t have the mutant dogs made into the likenesses of the dead tributes… took away some of the edge and darkness from the book. As always though, great job!

  8. I read the book and I like the movie… but I agree that the shaky cam could have been cut down!

    I was also disappointed that the dogs were not zombie-mutt versions of the dead kids but oh well…

    1. I didn’t think they were supposed to be zombie-mutts just have the features of the dead tributes. Especially their eyes and hair color.

  9. Didn’t 12 have another winner (besides Haymitch) that passed away?

    1. Not that I remember…I think you’re thinking of Madge Undersee’s Aunt who was in the 2nd Quarter Quell with Haymitch. He held her in his arms while she died during their Hunger Games.

  10. Neil Beaudry Avatar
    Neil Beaudry

    Although I recommend reading the book, since it gives a lot of context to the story that the movie is unable to. I must admit that this is one of the rare cases where the movie really is better than the book.

    I like that they down played the lovey dovey stuff in the book, and in the movie Preeta is much less of the incompetent love-struck puppy-dog that he is in the book.

    The scene in the movie showing the rebellion in district 11 was an amazing adaptation. Much better than the scene in the book, where she just receives a loaf of bread.

    But the biggest reason I liked the movie better is that i I really felt like Preeta get’s played as a chump at the end of the book, and it really ticked me off (mostly because I have been that chump who was in love with a girl who was completely oblivious, and when she does finally realize how he/I felt, casts me aside anyway). Whereas, In the movie, I didn’t feel like Katniss blew off Preeta like she did at the end of the book. I think this is mostly because of the aforementioned “lovey dovey” stuff in the book really felt like she was leading him on, and the book made it clear that it was all just an act on her part.

    But hey, what do I know… it’s obvious that I am not the target audience for the book. That would be 13 year old girls (as evidenced by the fact that all of the Hunger Games toys in Toys-r-us are in the same isle as the barbie dolls).

    1. The target for the book, and the toys are NOT the same.

  11. I love the movie^^.
    i hope people love it too…

  12. I haven’t read the books. I probably won’t see the movie. (This is nothing bad against either; there’s a limited resource of time and money I can put forth, and right now, university and the final term are taking up a great deal of them.) ((I still haven’t seen the one movie I’ve been trying to get to since Christmas – The Artist. I want to see it on the big screen before I get it on DVD.))
    Some of the antics and shenanigans I’ve seen for the opening of this movie remind me of when I was going to school in La-La Land (a/k/a Lost Angels, Crazyfornia) in 1980, and I spent five hours on line at the Egyptian Theatre to see The Empire Strikes Back at the 2:00 AM show.
    Ah, I was younger and crazier then…
    If you check on CNN or the Hollywood Reporter websites, there’s news about the “haters” who had been going off about The Hunger Games. They apparently have their knickers in a twist because the characters they care about in the book aren’t white.
    Damned if I can figure out why.
    Oh, well…
    Yes, you *do* resemble Stana Katic; and this is not a bad thing, at all!
    Until next I read your blog, adieu.

    1. “The Artist” was fantastic! Highly recommend it. Haha, I just recently moved awat from Los Angeles. I called it Hollyweird LOL!

      The fact that this “controversy” even exists just blows my mind!
      1. they are described in the books as having “dark brown skin”…what do these people think that means? That they have “Jersey Shore”-style super tans??
      2. They could have made every character in the movie African-American and it would have had zero impact whatsoever on the story
      3. Even if the character had been written has a white kid, Producers are always changing it up. I don’t remember anyone bitching when they changed Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries from a scared redhead freckle-face to a badass black chick.
      Ugh. The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach.

      Sorry, I know I’m preaching to the choir lol 😉 Ciao Alexander! 🙂

  13. […] movie and have to say it was visually spectacular and followed the book very closely. One Blog spells it out […]

  14. I have read all the books but haven’t seen the movie. I am waiting for a friend to finish the book before we see the movie hoping it is this weekend. With what I have read about the movie and discussed with people who have seen it I think it will be interesting. I think I will like it but I am already put off by a few changes.

    1) The book was in the first person. I really really like this about the book. It gave the audience a sense of hopelessness about the gifts. Will she get them? Will he wait? I know that does not really translate to a movie and I am sure they pulled it off quite well.
    2) Rue’s final scene… I feel the way they changed it changes the meaning of the scene for other characters.
    3) Small details. For example (again this is just based on trailers and images not seeing the movie yet) but the backpack she grabs at the beginning was black? (not sure if that is true) Why is it not bright orange how does that change the story? Why do they show the faces in the sky after the cannon shot instead of at the end of the day?

    I feel like I am nitpicking I am sure the movie is fantastic and I can not wait to see it. I know the books were worth the read I just wish I read them before I saw the trailers so I could have make up my own picture of Katniss but I think Jennifer Lawrence is perfect.

    1. To answer your question about the cannon/faces in the sky…they did it correctly for the first day when half the kids die right at the beginning. The cannons went off and then later that night the announcement/faces in the sky thing happens. But for the rest of the movie they do the cannon and faces right after each other. The only thing I can think of is editing and trying to keep everything flowing smoothly. It didn’t really bother me. I hope you get to see it this weekend, it really is a great movie. Tell your friend to read faster! 😉

  15. Misa Misa Gmizore Avatar
    Misa Misa Gmizore

    I really love The Hunger Games and I’m hoping the movie was really good. I didn’t read you’re review because of spoiler fears but I’d love to know if it was awesome! It looks awesome and the casting is awesome! So… my question is… is it awesome? XD

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