So…remember how I said that I’m totally not into books that are insanely popular like Twilight and The Hunger Games? Yeah, forget all that (well, not ALL of it–I still fucking hate Twilight), because I went to see the first movie with Erin yesterday for her birthday, and I’m totally on The Hunger Games train now.
The movie was seriously awesome. Now, you have to understand that I went into it having never read the books, and with no expectations and basically no clue what the story was even about. All I knew was that it had something to do with kids fighting to the death, which sounded a little too dark even for me.
But it kind of blew my mind, to be honest. It’s two and a half hours long, and I didn’t even get bored once, which always happens when I see movies in the theater. That’s saying a lot for me. I was completely entranced by the storyline, and I was amazed by how…un-young adult it is. I think part of the reason why I avoided reading the books was because I don’t know if I could get into a young adult series at this point in my life. Harry Potter was one thing, because when I started the series I was a kid, so growing up with the characters made me still care about them as an adult. But to pick up a YA novel now and expect to actually get into it is another thing.
The Hunger Games is really heavy, morbid stuff for young adult literature, though. Certainly every good YA novel has some sort of transgression, but this shit is pretty intense–children fighting each other to the death as marionettes for an evil government puppet master who wants complete control and a cheap thrill. It’s extreme, and impressively complex and involved for a young adult story.
Going into the movie, I didn’t realize that it was a post-apocalyptic setting, nor did I realize that not only is the battle broadcast as some kind of sick and twisted reality show, but it’s also completely fixed by the government. It’s a fucked up, life-or-death popularity contest, and Katniss is the first person in the history of the competition to get the best of the ones who control it.
Now, I have to say that I think they could have made a way better casting choice for Haymitch than Woody Harrelson, but the wayward pick is balanced out by the fact that Lenny fucking Kravitz plays Cinna, who is probably my favorite character because he’s the only person who seems to show a shred of realistic humanity in his compassion for and support of Katniss. Also he looks really cute in glitter eyeshadow.
If this movie can make me actually like Lenny Kravitz then you know it must be amazing.
The movie reminded me a lot of The Truman Show with how carefully the Hunger Games are orchestrated and the players manipulated by their surroundings to provide the most entertainment. It’s not clear to me from the movie whether the average citizens viewing the games are aware of the fact that the government controls the circumstances of the arena, but I was shocked when I discovered that they had the ability to generate a forest fire and toss in wild beasts to make things more interesting. Children fighting to the death and struggling to survive the elements is terrifying enough as it is without some crazy-bearded ringleader ordering up genetically altered hog-mutts and making the sun set on command. This movie was really raw, so much more so than I expected it to be, and I can’t begin to guess at what the next installments will be like.
One detail that I really wish would have been included that I think would have been clutch for the gritty realness of the film was for Katniss to yak all over Effie Trinket when she’s standing on stage, shocked and dumbfounded at the fact that she’s actually just volunteered her life to save her sister. That’s a fucking powerful moment, and I felt a little queasy just thinking about the implications of that kind of sacrifice. What kind of fucked up society necessitates something like that? Jennifer Lawrence does a great job of looking like she’s about to vomit as the realization that she’s going to have to hunt and kill other humans sinks in, and nothing could have satisfied the hungry audience more than an epic barf-fest all over Effie’s idiotic costume.
We can’t have everything though, and all in all the movie won me over and made me eager to read the books to find out what happens next. Add them to my book list and save me a seat for the next movie release.
Bonus points for the Titanic 3D preview before the movie–it was so hilariously awesome that it even balanced out the fact that there were TWO previews for movies starring Kristen Stewart. Ugh.