So, The Hunger Games! I was looking forward to seeing it, because I am a big fan of the books, and I saw it, and I liked it, and now I will need Catching Fire to be released as soon as possible.
Things I liked:
- how the film was able to expand the POV of the story. In the books, we have Katniss' point of view at all times, which makes for tense reading but doesn't give as much scope as maybe some readers would like. So it was very cool to see sweeping crowd shots, the faces of the people back home in District 12, and especially how the Gamemakers went about controlling things. That was maybe my favorite part, actually--seeing a slew of people creating forest fires to drive Katniss toward the Career Tributes and setting the mutts on the battlefield.
- Seneca Crane's enlarged role. Similarly, I think choosing to give Seneca a reasonably large part was a good move. Watching Wes Bentley and his magical circus beard stride around the control room and smarm on television were good ways of showing just how soulless the Capitol and Games are.
- The acting. I had some issues with the casting process of this film, as many people did, but there's no denying that Lawrence did an ace job with Katniss. Lenny Kravitz was also very good as Cinna (restrained but clearly caring about Katniss), Stanley Tucci was wonderful as zany talk show host Caesar Flickerman, Amandla Stenberg was perfect as Rue, and I can't wait to see Donald Sutherland really bust it out as President Snow in the next two films.
- Capitol fashion, yo! The Capitol crowd scenes were really great in terms of nutty hair, clothes, and makeup. For the next film I kinda want to dress up as some Capitol fashionista (though I did wear some Cinna eyeliner for this one). I would have liked to see more of Venia, Octavia, and Flavius in their brilliant glory though.
Things I didn't like:
- the mutts. Without the utter creep factor of what the muttations really are, they came off as simply giant wolfy things. However, I venture that explaining about the mutts would have taken too much time (especially with the film already clocking in at nearly 3 hours). When I told my manfriend what mutts are in the book, his face was exquisite.
- the end battle. Similarly to the first point here, I found the final scene at the Cornucopia not quite what it might have been. Though I suppose having Cato be eaten alive for hours would have both taken too long and been a bit much for a PG13 film.
- the mockingjay pin. Cutting out Madge didn't bother me TOO much, but would it have been that hard to have Katniss' mother give her the pin? As it played out in the film, it just didn't seem significant enough.
- the marketing of Team Peeta/Team Gale. OH MY GOD YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT.
- the casting of Katniss. This isn't an issue with the film itself--since Lawrence was very good in the role--so much as a prior-to-the-film problem, but it bears repeating. Katniss' ethnicity is never stated in the books and based on her physical appearance (black hair, olive skin, grey eyes), it is entirely possible that she is of color. I think it would have been pretty great to see an actress of color in that role.
So yes! A good time was had by all. Very much looking forward to the second two movies (please please PLEASE cast Finnick soon. Hell, I'll save you the trouble: Armie Hammer).