Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games

Yesterday afternoon I went to see “The Hunger Games.” I had enjoyed the novels tremendously, and just about every review of the movie version has been positive, so I had high hopes.

The theater was populated by two dozen humans and three glowing smartphones. (Why do they hold the phones UP while using them? You’d think they would be discrete enough to put them in their laps. Snort, grumble, gnash. I am becoming Andy Rooney.) Shortly after the film started I moved to one of the front rows so that I wouldn’t be irritated by the texting activities. I got a sore neck, but was able to immerse myself in the Games without further distractions.

Rock-face Peeta
First, let me say that I did not get up and walk down the hall to watch “John Carter of Mars,” which was my fallback strategy if THG didn’t work out. “The Hunger Games” is eminently watchable. Jennifer Lawrence did a fabulous job—almost (but not quite) as good as she did in “Winter’s Bone.” The film’s pacing is breathtaking (like the book), and the movie is, technically, nearly flawless. As a movieization of a novel, it succeeds admirably.

But as a movie? Well, it reminded me of the first two Harry Potter movies. It reminded me of the first Twilight movie. It felt soulless, like a very well done paint-by-numbers version of the Mona Lisa. I left the theater feeling sated, but mildly dissatisfied.

I’m wondering how well it worked for people who never read the book.

Note: I am not always disappointed by movie adaptations of books that I have read. A couple of months ago I saw the U.S. movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I loved it. I also liked “No Country for Old Men,” and the third Harry Potter movie.


LihuaEmily said...

The third Harry Potter movie is definitely my favorite of all the Harry Potter movies!

I thought the film version of "The Hunger Games" was a really good adaptation - but I see what you mean, and I certainly agree that films can be so colorless in terms of standing on their own. It's like a stencil job!

Pete Hautman said...

Emily, I'm glad you (and just about everyone else) liked it. I might have been really knocked out by it if I hadn't gone in with such elevated expectations. I wanted to be astonished.

A friend of mine, after eating a meal at a very expensive restaurant, was asked, "How was the food?" He thought for a moment, then replied, "There was nothing wrong with it." That's kind of how I felt about THG.

Pete Hautman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LihuaEmily said...

That makes sense to me. It's quite difficult to really know what to expect from movies based on novels these days - especially if it's a movie that came out as quickly as "The Hunger Games" did.