The mini REVIEW: The Hunger Games remix

I say mini because this is something I should have written about waaay back in March. Seriously. No more excuses – lets review dammit!

A nice bridge between Harry Potter  – and over the cesspool that is TwilightThe Hunger Games is also  written by a woman. Similar to the former our young protagonist  has no say in crappy cards that life has dealt her, but she utilises her youth and tenacity to forge a path where she holds all the cards ( Card metaphors – brought to you by me).

Aside from the use of ‘magic’ and the  dystopian setting the main differences  between this and Potter is that the lead is female. Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year old beyond her years fending for her mother and 12-year-old sister.  In their world middle America is now a place called ‘Panem’; this union is made up of 12 districts, with the quality of life deteriorating the further out from the city, known as ‘Capitol’, you go. Katniss lives in the outermost district 12. Beyond that lies the wasteland of what used to be District 13 – a district obliterated after its part in ‘the uprising’ long before. The barren land serves as a reminder of what happens to those who dare question oppression, but just to be sure, the President holds an annual games called ‘The Hunger Games’; two tributes are selected at random  from each district and thrown in to the ring, as it were, in a fight to the death where there can only be one victor.

A wonderful adaptation that did more to draw in the key themes from the first book as well as planting seeds that will inevitably be the telling of books 2 and 3. It was very well done now that I think about it. At the time the film was a little bit of a disappointment. This may be down to the fact that the book is such a thrilling page turner; arguable so well written that what is conveyed in your imagination may never be matched to what is fed to you on-screen. The film certainly had the casting down right and even though some characters were cut, I realised they actually bore no real importance to the film at this point in the story anyway. Lets go through my Yes’ list:

JENNIFER LAWRENCE as KATNISS

It was now or never, Bieber was in her sights.

I’ve ranted and raved about Jennifer Lawrence and I am sticking to my declaration. She is one of the finest young actresses ever to grace the screen. She carries the role and makes it her own, Katniss Everdeen is Lawrence; and this is by no means an easy feat, the character is fiercely strong and likable even though she’s not actually that forthcoming. Lawrence did all of this and more in Winters Bone and X-men. She had Katniss in her palm from the minute she starred in the former.

WOODY HARRELSON as HAYMITCH

“Well let me ask you this: have you ever seen me and Cameron Diaz in the same place at the same time? Just sayin’.”

I think the biggest surprise was just how much I liked Haymitch in the books – so when I found out that one of my favourite actors and guilty pleasure crush, Woody Harrelson was taking on the role of the alcoholic mentor and  district 12’s tribute and only Hunger Games winner, I jumped for joy. He is fantastic in this role, it’s just a shame there wasn’t more on his development in the film as there is in the 1st book, however I suspect this has  much to do with the fact that Haymitch still has a long way to go in the coming adaptations. Regardless his presence is grounding, despite his obvious flaws, Haymitch is someone you want on your side. I definitely think Woody Harrelson conveyed that.

EFFIE TRINKET

With a mirror like that was it any wonder she looked the way she did?

There is one line  in particular that had me and my brother laughing on cue. It was  delivered by Effie Trinket (Elisabeth Banks) and all she said was “Rude”. It’s the way she says it; it’s where the line comes in – perfect deliverance and tone – it’s so slight but for some reason she got it right and amidst the tense situation on-screen her fatuous appearance, against her prim and proper attitude, was a perfect moment of comic relief. I really grew to love Effie Trinket in the books. She is the Escort of District 12 tributes; picking the tributes at random during ‘The Reaping’ and subsequently following them to the games. She brought many laughs throughout the books and in a role Parker Posey  would have been my choice for Banks carries the oddities to screen better than I expected.

PEETA

GAP had taken arbitrary advertising to distract from their overpriced apparel too far.

You say Gale and I say Peeta. I root for the underdog, and in the case of book 1 and the first film, Peeta is most definitely that. Josh Hutcherson is a charming guy. With a Sean Astin circa 1990 charm, strong jaw and pretty eyes, it’s not hard to swoon; and isn’t that what Peeta does? I fell in love with Peeta being in love. Everything about him screamedhook line and sinker, he became more desirable when he professed his love for her and in the film he does it well. The build up in showcasing their unity during training to throw off the other tributes was completely cut from the film, but Peeta’s longing looks and heartbreak was acted out perfectly in the film. My favourite moment would have probably been his scenes with Katniss in the cave and the humorous scenes alongside Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci)  during the pre-games interviews.

STANLEY TUCCI as CAESAR FLICKERMAN

The moment when Stanley Tucci realised that this WAS really happening.

1. Stanley Tucci can do NO wrong.  2. Did anyone think Graham Norton when Caesar came on?  3. Stanley Tucci + Graham Norton = Caesar Flickerman.

Amandla Stenberg as RUE

They begged her to take it off, but damned if she wasn’t going to exploit her likeness for Princess Tiana, the only black Disney Princess she could finally take advantage of.

I couldn’t take my eyes of Amandla Stenberg when she was on-screen. How beautiful and sweet can one child be?! In light of the racist taunts that followed her delivery in the role of Rue, I was already on team Stenberg. Nothing prepared me for how charming she was in the film though her presence was fleeting, she was one you could remember and will long after the film is over.  The relationship between Rue and Katniss is fired up and over within a day, however such is the impact of her presence on the latter, that the story truly begins the moment Rue becomes in danger. Her performance is gorgeous and I can’t even say she does that much but be the child she is, and it’s so honest and real that it will certainly pull at your heartstrings. Unless you’re dead inside.

DISTRICT 11

There was always one who messed it up for everyone else.

Hell yes, maybe I missed this entirely from the books (actually I do remember thinking it odd that everyone in the Seam (Katniss’neighbourhood) were described as looking like her; olive complexion, green eyes and brown hair…aside from that her mother and sister are fair and Effie Trinket is a whole new level of eccentric. So when the film hovered over the District 12 people during ‘The Reaping’ (the event where each tribute is picked to enter the games) I was happy to see a few darker faces. However, when later on during the film, Rue’s home, District 11 was shown, I was so relieved to see that there was a reason for this. In this dystopian world perhaps each district is segregated for reasons that are possibly highlighted later in the books. Or maybe it’s just a product of years of oppression and breeding, after all – Katniss does mention that she and Gale bear a likeness – is this because over the years and due to restrictive living situations they ultimately may be related…some where down the District 12 family tree…ew.

DONALD SUTHERLAND as PRESIDENT SNOW

” Why the hell are there so many Roses? I’ve got hayfever dammit!”

How can one man be so charming and cool and so frightening and icy the next? I already know the answer. Good Acting. I have to admit, recently Mr Sutherland Snr has been cast in less threatening roles, the older he has become the more endearing. However Sutherland as President Snow was a firm reminder that the old geezer,  for all his noticeable shrinking,  is still a formidable, striking actor. The descriptions of President Snow in the book are chilling, he truly is a ticking time-bomb and though-out the film he plays off a sort of Godfather role, where we see him carrying out seemingly harmless domestic chores like pruning roses while cutting off their heads and delivering deadly monologues…His dislike for Katniss and the attention she and Peeta garner throughout the event is instant. Just look at his face as he watches them during the parade. Psycho!…I’m scaring myself. That means he’s good.

THE GAMES

Peeta: “Psst, you’re looking the wrong way, dumb-ass”
Rue: “God she is so embarrassing, I can’t even look”

Oh c’mon!

THE COOL GAMES OPERATING TABLE

Someone forgot to hide their screen saver…

I was impressed by it. All those gamesmakers operating that 4D table  with a swift glide, pinch and swoop of the hand? tell if Apple and Android aren’t figuring out ways to incorporate this feature into their technology somehow?

CATO and CLOVE

Clove: Hold on, you’re totally smising!
Cato: Shut up man, no I’m not!… Why does it…does it look awful?
Clove: Dude, yes!

Were these the most horrifying and yet brilliantly villainous pair in the film? Yes. Yes they were. I have been dubious of Isabelle Furhman since her part as the murderous Orphan in the film…’Orphan’ so when she was hurling knives at random other children I wasn’t surprised; for someone so young, this actress has got the evil thing down. Alexander Ludwig as Cato though is exciting to watch. Cato is a dystopian ‘Jock’, ego, muscles and worrying endurance to kill anyone who stands in his way. He may even be slightly mad and for that I love him.

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