Mark Watches ‘The Hunger Games’

Oh god, The Hunger Games is a movie now, and I saw it, and it happened and I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by everything please help me.

It’s easy to nitpick certain things about The Hunger Games film, especially after most of us have spent so much time thinking about the world that Suzanne Collins created. I think that there are some points I couldn’t really ignored that rubbed me the wrong way, but these were mere gripes. None of them ruined the movie. None of them made me dislike what I was seeing. And none of them distracted from what an immense accomplishment that this was.

I was initially struck by how District 12 looked exactly like what I had in my brain; that alone is a feat of wonder because I can’t imagine shit in my head. But I wanted to see a drab, rundown locale, one that was muted in color and excitement, where people were filthy and clinging to what little hope they had day-to-day. Those opening rapid shots of the film that cycled through these miniature portraits of the citizens of District 12 set a tone that was both satisfying and expected. This needed to be a film that alternated between the gritty and the visually absurd. Specifically because this was done so well, I did find myself disappointed that District 12 seemed to receive a whole lot of whitewashing, even in terms of the background actors and actresses. Honestly, I don’t even think it would have been as jarring if the Reaping itself didn’t look so clean. I get that the families would wash up and prepare their children for this annual event (which in and of itself is a disturbing thought), but it clashed so much with the opening clips of the town that it made it even easier to notice how few people of color their were. (To the film’s credit, everything involving District 11 made me want to roll in the aisles with delight and joy. DONE SO PERFECTLY MY GOD.)

But otherwise, right from the start, this just looks so right. It’s disturbing as hell, and I knew what was going to happen. That moment when Effie arrived was so perfect that I could not believe this was a Hollywood adaptation of The Hunger Games book. That’s not to say there weren’t changes made to appease various parties, but I could not fathom how faithful this was to the original source. The Reaping was just a silent as I imagined it. Katniss’s characterization was 100% accurate (JENNIFER LAWRENCE, MY QUEEN); Gale’s face was too brilliant for words; and I could not accept anyone else aside from Josh Hutcherson as Peeta or Elizabeth Banks as Effie. The same goes for Woody Harrelson or Lenny Kravitz. (God, I could spend a novel talking about how fucking stella Lenny Kravitz was as Cinna.)

What’s interesting about the experience is that so many of us who saw it knew the story. So even writing about it, there’s not much I can say about any plot twists or characterization. There were differences, for sure, but the vast majority of them were incredibly subtle in ways that didn’t change the tone or the point of the story. Not that there weren’t things that were left out that I wished I could see! No Madge, no leg injury on Peeta, no loaf of bread from District 11. But I think it would have been unrealistic, at least for my own expectations, to want everything in the book on the screen.

Truthfully, there were even some changes I thought improved The Hunger Games. The chance to see Seneca Crane in a much more in-depth way was fantastic, especially the poetically brutal way in which he was executed. The same goes for President Snow, who had a bazillion percent more lines and scenes. It was so satisfying to watch because you could see how they were setting up the following two movies. Also SENECA AND YOUR PRECIOUS BEARD.

But the truth is, I could deal with things left out if the story was true to the source. An adaptation can rarely be perfect (except for The Princess Bride or maybe No Country For Old Men), so I just care if the themes and the tone is right. For me, that’s why I enjoyed The Hunger Games so much. It felt genuine. So many of the sets, the small moments of characterization, the costumes, the sheer brutality of the bloodbath… that’s what I wanted from this movie. I wanted to experience all of the things I went through when I first read the novel. Obviously, I can never re-live those moments exactly as they were, but I wanted to feel the life-destroying sadness when Rue died. I wanted to see the grotesque fashion of the Capitol. I wanted to see Katniss’s struggle with her own femininity within the context of the Games. I wanted to see how ridiculous the pageantry of the Capitol would be.

Perhaps I expected something so much worse, and this was just better than that. I am going to see it again next week with some friends, and I hope to get a better idea about how I ultimately feel about this film. For now, though, I’m extremely pleased with what I’ve seen, and I’m genuinely eager for my second viewing. For the most part, people I know seem quite happy with this adaptation, too, so I’m interested to see how y’all felt too. What were your favorite scenes? Did you ever know you’d have so many feelings about seeing a cat for half a second? I may have yelled TEAM BUTTERCUP more times than necessary.

Oh god, so many fucking feelings. I can’t wait to see it a million more times.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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7 Responses to Mark Watches ‘The Hunger Games’

  1. Tabatha Mellark says:

    So many feels. I don’t even know where to start. I know it’s not a comedy, but I laughed so many times. Gale’s faces when KatPee were being romantic my GOD lol or that oh-so-romantic moment when Peeta is just smearing Kats blood all over her forehead. So many laughs.

    Josh Hutcherson as Peeta blew my mind because initially I believed he was NOT a good fit for Peeta. He was nothing like how I imagined him, but damn me he played the shit out of that role!

    Also, I am just so happy that all the moments I Read we’re done so wonderfully close to what I Imagined. The tracker Jacker scene? Hallucinations? Glimmer?

    And I had a mini heart attack when I saw buttercup. Why do you fill me up? Buttercup baby 🙂 he is the best cat in literary history (after miss Norris)

  2. Tabatha Mellark says:

    Oh wait and favorite part? Can we say District 11 rebellion? I am SO GLAD we got to see that. I may or may not have shed a tear. Who knows?

    Seneca crane’s beard? Perfection.

    Ok I’ll stop now. But really. There is too much to say about this truly wonderful adaptation.

  3. Bethany says:

    My heart broke and I died inside when Primm was first called and as she was walking, she tucked her shirttail in. ALL OF THE FEELINGS!

    I thought they captured the mood and emotions of the book perfectly. The hopelessness of District 12, the gluttony and arrogance of The Capital. When Katniss was meeting with Cinna right before The Games and then getting into the tube had me on the edge of my seat, digging my nails into my palms.

    I did briefly think about how The President had more gradual evilness emerge throughout the book and wished we could have seen that a little more, but was completely satisfied with what we did see.


  4. Smurphy says:

    Too lazy to get out of bed and comment… I am not nearly as satisfied as you were. But before I get to that… Stanley Tucci as CEASER WAS BRILLIANT! Seriously. I just. UGH! I had reread most of the book before the movie but had the last chapter and some to finish and I’m reading the final interview and am just like YES YES YES! Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was also perfection. Per.fec.tion. Who would have thought? PERFECTION! Elizabeth Banks as Effie was also brilliant. “MANNERS” LOVE IT!

    Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was great as far as he was able to go with what was given to him. I think the PG 13 held him back for some of his more outlandish scenes that made us readers fall in love with him. Peeta. Josh. Oh boy. I was split between LOVING HIM and think he was the best and… Well being really confised. So basically I felt like how Katniss was supposed to be feeling… And I don’t know if i saw that in Lawrence’s portrayal of her… I thought a lot of her character fell a little short of my expectations.

    I did love how they started setting up storyline-wise for the next movies. (I was ALWAYS disappointed how HP didn’t do this with its movies amiright?) BUT on the same note did they set up the relationships enough?? Or am I asking for too much?

    The sets were phenomenal as were the costumes. The first couple scenes almost had me crying. … I just expected more. But alas you can’t make books into movies.


    I need to ROT13 2 comments. Will do it later.

  5. Fetesha says:

    Just saw it this afternoon. Brilliant. That’s all I can really say. I agree that the changes weren’t enough to rub me the wrong way. If anything, it’s just another way to analyze the book. It feels like forever until Catching Fire gets released. I really can’t wait to see what direction they take it.

  6. Lady X says:

    Now I know a lot of people have differant opinions about book/movie translations and I, for some reason completely seperate these two. To me a good movie is a good movie. So this is the only time I think I will ever say this but this movie IS the book. The way the movie left small details, that made the characters who they were, or what the districts were made me sooo happy. Everything was genuine. Nothing was done just for the action or for the (thank goodness this wasn’t pushed) teen romance angle that’s been a hysteria in Hollywood thanks to a beloved Stephanie Myers. It was the subtle things that showed me this wasn’t just a book to movie adaption where the producers are trying to make money. Prim tucking in her shirt after Effie calls her name, Buttercup hissing, the Senneca Beard. THE COSTUMING. As a fashionphile, the Depression-era clothing for 12 and the outlandish clothing for the Capitol was very well done IMHO. One of the best things was the music. There were numerous scenes with NO music and it worked to the movies advantage. I mean with all the Capitol culture combined with the gritty reality of District 12 gave it room to show that some things work fantastic without a score. The Firefly esque strings as Katniss is in the forest with the action music reminiscent of LOST’s made me quite pleased 🙂 Just 2 tiny complaints. No Madge! Boo! I understand that they didn’t want things to be too terribly creepy, but I was rather fond of the dead tributes heads on the dogs. In completely nightmare inducing ways of course. The

    • Lady X says:

      Cont. Three best things. Rue’s death. District 11 uprising. HAYMITCH. Rue’s death was brutal in the books and I really wanted to feel the same way in the movie. Let’s just say it worked :,( DISTRICT 11 UPRISING WAS UNEXPECTED AND WONDERFUL AND LOOKED TOO MUCH LIKE DISTRICT 12 BUT NO ONE CARES BECAUSE IT IS SO GOOD, THAT WE’RE JUST SAVING OUR NIT PICKING FOR CATCHING FIRE. IMMA JUST SAYIN. Haymitchhaymitchhaymitch. I had seen Woody Harellson in one other movie and was kind of apprehensive because Haymitch is probably my second favorite character and I was 100% convinced that only Brendan Gleason could play him. I’m SO glad that I was wrong. He brought just enough in charcter comic relief while still being able to show a man just trying to forget the Hunger games no matter how long ago they happened. By far my favorite scene; Haymitch watching the Capitol boy chase his sister around with a knife, (!!!) the look of disgust and pity on his face. It is a sad but true representation of the attitude in the Capitol. Death isn’t a game. It was a very short scene, but I think it conveys completely the differances between the victors and the people of the Capitol which is a theme we see repeated a lot over the course of the trilogy. Also, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Stanley Tucci as Ceaser, Jennifer Lawrence. The cast was flawless. Moar! Catching Fire cannot come soon enough 🙂

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