Warning: This post contains a lot of fangirling and CAPS and not a lot of coherence because ALL THE EMOTIONS.
You guys. YOU GUYS. The Hunger Games movie is HERE! And it is AMAZING. It's everything you expect it to be. I think I love it as much as the book. Well, almost.
The cast is perfect. Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant, as expected. As soon as you see her pull back that arrow for the first time, it's like, "Oh hey there, Katniss." Liam is fine as Gale - he doesn't get a massive amount of screen time, to be honest - but Josh Hutcherson, oh my goodness, JOSH HUTCHERSON! He blew me away as Peeta. I'm not gonna lie, I had my doubts about him - mostly superficial, it's true - but he nailed it. His Peeta is full of depth, emotion, humour and charm - gah he's just so great.
The supporting cast are also fantastic. Elizabeth Banks is hilarious as Effie, Lenny Kravitz is fah-bulous as Cinna, Stanley Tucci is PERFECTION as Caesar, Wes Bentley is chilling yet surprisingly sympathetic as Seneca, Woody Harrelson IS Haymitch (and the wig isn't even distracting), Donald Sutherland is eviltastic as Snow, Willow Shields is adorably helpless as Prim and Amandla Stenberg is completely heartbreaking as Rue.
The sets are wonderful and really bring to life the world of the book, and the costumes are truly spectacular. There was clearly so much attention to detail, and the Capitol costumes in particular are standouts. As for Cinna's creations, let's just say that those who were disappointed by Katniss' fire dress in the trailer will be pleasantly surprised in the movie. The filmmakers definitely kept some secrets hidden. The one thing I didn't really like was the shaky camera movements, especially at the start, but it wasn't a major problem.
As for the story, it was remarkably faithful to the book. Some things are cut, of course, but for the most part I didn't miss anything. There were also a few changes or additions that I thought were really effective. I'll outline them below - beware, there'll be some spoilers.
Changes that worked
- I really liked the "behind the scenes" aspect of the movie, with the frequent cuts to the gamemaker's room, as well as Caesar's commentary. It definitely strengthened the realism of the world. I particularly enjoyed the fleshing out of Seneca's story, and I actually felt really sorry for him by the end. The insight into Snow's motivations was also great.
- Even though it was kinda sad - but understandable - to have no Madge, I thought the way the Mockingjay pin was exchanged between Katniss and Prim made the whole thing more meaningful than it was in the book.
- The cut away to District 11's reaction to Rue's death was powerful and gave a hint at things to come.
- Rue's death was slightly different and not quite as gruesome as in the book - it was kind of a relief not to have to see that on screen. As it is, it's still quite brutal.
- The muttations didn't have the Tribute's features (I didn't really get that in the book, TBH).
Changes that didn't work (for me)
- I wish the importance of the bakery scene was made a little clearer, as well as Katniss' feelings for Peeta. I wanted MORE KISSING in the cave scene, especially the kiss where Katniss realises she does feel something for him. I also missed Peeta's realisation at the end that Katniss was playing the game. A friend of mine who hasn't read the books was totally confused about the fact that one second Katniss is angry at him, and the next she's all affectionate. They do develop the idea that if they're a couple, people will like them, but perhaps the reasoning behind Katniss' actions wasn't as obvious if you haven't read the books.
- There were a few cuts to Gale in key parts, but I wish they'd bulked his part up a little more, and shown him looking after Katniss' family and/or being interviewed by the TV crew. Again, my friend who hasn't read the books was like, "Gale is barely a character! Why is he made to look like one of the main three?!" And I kinda agree.
Changes that had no major impact
- The Avox story was missing.
- Peeta injures his leg, but doesn't lose it.
- Jennifer Lawrence's singing voice isn't amazing, like Katniss' is supposed to be, but it's really only a superficial difference.
Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think?