Last night I took my daughter to a midnight movie (on a Thursday night, no less). Let’s see, when is the last time I did that? Oh that’s right – never! There were NINE packed theaters at the Regal Cinemas we attended. And judging by who was in our theater, that means there are a lot of teen girls who might be a wee bit tired for school this morning!
There were a few boys there, but those that were probably came more for the chance to hit on girls. One of the boys with us took his opportunity to poll the crowd while we were waiting for the show to start. His results? Team Peeta came out in force.
OK, so on to my review. This was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have ever seen. You can totally tell that the author (Suzanne Collins) was heavily involved. She is quoted as saying she was pleased with the directors interpretation, and I can see why.
Die-hard fans of the book (as the seven of us are) will likely spend time hashing out all of the parts they “left out” of the movie, but if they had included all of those we would have still been watching the film at 8am the next morning. There’s just too much in the book for a single two-hour flick. Instead of focusing on the minute details that might otherwise dilute the story, the directors gave us the world we imagined Katniss lived in — with all its poverty, excess, oppression, and rebellion.
There is one line where President Snow tells the head gamemaker why Katniss is dangerous to them: “Hope; it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it.” It’s a fabulous line that hints at what is to come in the next two movies (if it all stays in line with the books).
Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job of living up to Collins’ Katniss. I loved the reluctant hero in the books. Her transition to the big screen emphasized her vulnerability and desperation perfectly. My only regret is that I wonder whether she might have been better served by a voiceover sharing some of her thoughts at the beginning and the end. Those who have read the book *know* her thoughts, but viewers without that benefit might not be as clued in. For example, if you didn’t read the book, were the subtle clues about Haymitch’s hand in the whole Peeta-loves-Katniss scheme evident enough to get the point across? I don’t know.
A lot of folks have speculated about the level of violence in the film, and whether it is appropriate for younger readers/viewers. The book is violent — make no mistake: this is a Survivor-esque story about 24 teens battling to the death — and the movie keeps to that story line perfectly. However, I always felt Collins did a good job of showing the killings as necessary self-preservation (with the notable exception of Cato), rather than egregious gore. I think the movie follows her lead quite well. My personal opinion is that elementary school kids probably don’t need to have their heads filled with scenes of wild beasts mauling someone, stabbings, or even killer bees swarming sleeping tributes. But you know your kid better than I do.
So this morning, I’m tired. But I’m glad I stepped away from my very comfortable 10pm bedtime to enjoy this movie with my daughter and friends. We first read the book together in a mother-daughter book club two years ago. In fact, I am pretty sure it was the first book that we read together since the days of Goodnight Moon and Green Eggs and Ham. These days it can be hard for us to find common ground among popular entertainment, but The Hunger Games has done it… twice. (Thanks, Suzanne Collins!)