The Hunger Games Aims Straight, But Misses Slightly
As I said I fell in love with the book. Great characters, awesome setup and story line all the way through. The movie seemed like it was trying to rush to what the filmmakers saw as important and dropped a bunch of what I fell in love with the book. The overall story is faithful to it's source with tweaks here and there to get thing moving along which is understandable when adapting a book. A few things just didn't make sense to me to change in the story though as they didn't help with the consistency of the story or anything, they were just different for almost no reason.
Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice for Katniss in my mind. She came out and really relayed who Katniss really was, her emotions, stance, and attitude said it all. At the same time though I feel we didn't really get to know Katniss as well as we do in the book. Of course you can't relay all the information we're given as that would be a huge task but I still think we could've gotten to know her more, but that's not Lawrence's fault at all, that lies on the filmmakers. Two of my favorite cast choices were Stanley Tucci as Caesar and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, as both played their roles to perfection. Caesar's facial expressions, his voice, everything just felt like what I got from the book. Haymitch was a little more mean and drunk in the book and they toned that down just a bit in the film but I didn't care, him being drunk too much would've gotten annoying to see. Josh Hutcherson did a good job as Peeta as well, bringing his emotions to the screen when they needed to be and his chemistry with Lawrence was great as well.
Here is area where the film hurt the most to me. As I stated earlier I went to film school so I've been "tainted" (as some of us have come to say) to focus mainly on how the film was made which takes away our attention from the story at times. I'll say this as nicely as I can, Gary Ross focused on the wrong things from the book at times and it hurt the film. Also the cinematography sucked, and I wasn't a fan of the editing. I'm trying not to be to overly critical here. One of things I loved about the book was the fact that it was told in first person, which to me added a lot surprise and emotion. Here we lose that which I was sort of expecting, and when the tributes are in the arena I wanted everything to STAY in the arena, instead we have cuts from the arena to where the game makers are at where they plan things to happen as well as cuts to President Snow and Haymitch, and even a cut to District 11 and 12. I'll explain my issue with these things. Again comparing to the book (sorry), when Katniss and the other tributes are in the arena that's all we get and I loved it because nothing else seemed to matter, everything we see has to do with the survival of the tributes, when you cut from that in the film it takes away it's effect of drawing you into the world that the tributes are really in. Katniss's painstaking time in the arena was the most exciting thing to read, so much happens and we see how noble and strong Katniss really is from it, when you cut to things that in my opinion don't matter it takes that away. I honestly could care less about what the game makers did in their room and how they made things happen, I wanted to feel just as trapped as the tributes did in the arena. The cuts to President Snow also seemed unnecessary as well, I know they're trying to set things up for the next installment but I still liked the mystery behind President Snow in the books. I was hoping they'd keep the violence that's described in the book in all the way and for the most part they did but they did of course tone it down unfortunately.
The Pacing of the film was really quick. For a 2 1/2 hour movie it seemed to go by really quickly, I would've loved a 4 hour film haha. You know they have to rush a bit to get things in but it felt like everything moved to quickly. The actual games themselves felt like they lasted a few days rather than a few weeks like the book.
The cinematography was to me hard to watch mainly in the beginning. The camera was fairly shaky but we see these shots that focus on things that don't make sense. We have a shot behind Effie Trinket that focuses on her shoulder for a good 5 seconds. Why? The lighting seemed a bit flat almost like a found footage film at times as well.
On the editing side there are a ton of quick cuts, we have a shot for a second then another, and again, and again. The shots on the screen are jumping so much I can't decide what to focus on. By the time we get to Capitol things slow down thankfully. But again this is technical stuff that I myself just found to be annoying.
The visuals were fine to me, didn't have a big issue with them at all. Technically well done, the look of Capitol was good. The set designs for everything was just about what I was expecting too, very nicely done by the design team. Overall not too much to get into on the visuals topic.
I'll admit first and foremost I'm being picky with these things and I apologize if I come off seeming like I'm trying to criticize the film harshly because that's not what I'm trying to do. I did enjoy it as a whole but not as much as I was hoping. The pacing was quick, the direction flawed and experience was a bit underwhelming. But I didn't hate it. I am going to see this again and watch it not from the perspective of the book or as a filmmaker, I just want to watch and enjoy the film. I look forward to the next installments.
Overall Grade: B