Tag Archive: Hunger Games



Because my first impressions can be wrong sometimes, mmmkay?

I will be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the series when I first heard of it around a year ago. There’s a not-too-exciting review of both the book and the movie on this very blog. But I went to watch Catching Fire with some friends earlier tonight, and I have to say I changed my mind…about the movies only! My biggest issue with this series is that it’s probably the only one I know of where the movies are actually better than the books. The prose just doesn’t hold my attention, but all that means is I won’t ruin how much I enjoyed this movie by reading the book.

Jennifer Lawrence’s acting truly surprised me – even though she’s won an Oscar, I wasn’t expecting her to be so good! Everything right down to the tears seemed genuine enough that it left me wondering if she was really crying. I’m still in awe of how she can express changing emotions so clearly (or appear so stony, as called for) without moving anything but her face. I LOVE her now and I think she did a fantastic job.

Everyone else played their roles to their best effect too, and the action sequences and special effects made me cringe so hard in my seat a couple of times. Despite the storyline being so similar to Hunger Games, I didn’t find it predictable or stale. But I have to say, the costumes were the best part. The burning wedding gown can be seen as superficial showing off or deeply symbolic depending on individual interpretation, but it is a true artistic accomplishment. Personally, I didn’t even have to read the book to understand the statement it makes – the dress it turns into recalls the simplicity of just before the Reaping in the previous Hunger Games, and the addition of wings represents the liberation Panem is going after. To me, the fire represents the rebellion taking place.

The idea of rebellion in this series is really what gets its target audience hooked. So many teenagers are going through that phase in their everyday lives, and every one of them will feel a certain sense of solidarity when they see it put on screen. That’s why it’s a little disturbing how violent and gory the film is, but on the other hand, our particular generation is pretty much exposed to that all day long as it is. I know a lot of viewers (especially the older ones) have an issue with the seemingly purposeless violence going on, and I won’t pretend that’s not warranted. At the same time, the kids watching this are the same ones who already live in a nation where a mind-blowing number of real-life, well-publicized mass shootings occur within one year, so I don’t think there’s too much more damage to be done.

All in all, Catching Fire was an amazing movie all around – graphics, costumes, acting, the whole package. The storyline hasn’t been particularly meaningful so far, but it’s still definitely worth a watch – maybe even worth an Oscar – for its other merits.

 


The book: No one I’ve talked to so far likes what I have to say about this book. I was not impressed. I’ll admit that a combination of distrust in anything that caused such giddy fanaticism in so many preteen/teenage readers and lukewarm feelings about what I knew of the plot had me skeptical from the beginning, but I tried my best to put that aside as I read. The plot was not bad. There could have been more done with it, but I have an inkling that the storyline becomes more compelling in the second book. No, my real problem with it was the way it was written. I can’t fault Collins for adopting a less than sophisticated tone, given that her target audience has embraced Twilight like something Shakespearean. It’s not even about developing the characters a little bit more so that their relationships are more complex than one standing in the way of another’s survival. It’s that this book is so obviously written for production. I feel like it was intended to become a movie and not to contribute to the pleasure of reading, and for some reason that just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s the blatant attempt to milk the idea for way more than it’s worth by having a book and a movie…or maybe it’s that the book is written with such a heavy hand that there are very few elements that can’t be conveyed to their fullest impact on screen.

That said, I really like that Collins has created a strong female character. The bow and arrow bit has been done to death, but hey, it did the job. Also, the book’s darker, more sober themes don’t entirely overshadow typical teenage concerns. I think this is probably why it did so well with the middle- and high-school crowd. Overall, I thought the book was more imaginative than what’s become the average and it definitely elicited some reaction from me. Not a bad read, but way too many things are done just for dramatic effect, and I don’t like that that’s the point.

Also. The only black kids in the movie came from the district where everyone works on a plantation? Does that sound, erm, nostalgic to anyone else? I understand that everyone is pretty much treated like a slave, but that’s a flimsy excuse and you just cannot ignore such significant real-life historical context in that way. I can’t tell if that was done on purpose to highlight how much society has regressed in this new world, or if it should be cause for controversy. The distinction should have been made VERY clear and that’s a pretty heavy strike against Collins in my book. No writer has any business touching such a sensitive period in human history if they don’t intend to address it.

The movie: The cast all did a wonderful job. The book translated well onto the silver screen, but then again, the entire structure of the plot doesn’t make that very difficult. The graphics and cinematography were well done, but there was nothing stellar about them and to be honest, I kind of expected it because Suzanne Collins all but put out shots for the director. There was nothing overly witty or creative about the dialogue and I don’t remember seeing anything beyond what I expect every time I go to the movies. It was entertaining, but they were cheap, transparent thrills and overall, I found the movie largely unremarkable.

What I really want to talk about in relation to the film is this.

This is not Suzanne Collins’ fault. Nothing she – or anyone else – writes can do anything about the utter depravity that led those children to make those comments. I just wonder how she feels about inadvertently exposing this repulsive truth. I wonder if she feels any disappointment in the fans who have supported her. I would.