I am, however, one of the 12 people who haven’t read the book. So I went in knowing nothing about the movie other than it seemed like a bunch of teenagers in a competition to kill each other. Sort of like a better version of survivor with bows and arrows, and swords and spears. Hey, I’d watch a show like that. Apparently a lot of us would.
So here’s the thing. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a different movie than if you did.
No, I don’t mean it’s like I-Robot where Asimov crafts a brilliant story about the humanity of robots and then Hollywood snorts enough blow up their collective noses and comes up with a Wil Smith vehicle where robots are pawns for some uber-villain out to control the world.
No, this movie is one story because you are in the head of the main character and one where you are not.
I saw the one where you are not.
For those who know nothing about the story, it’s sort of like North Korea with kids from different districts who must fight each other so their people can get enough food. Cool concept and it has Donald Sutherland as some sort of President or dictator or CEO so I didn’t think it could be all that bad.
In fact, I have to say, I really liked the movie. I would recommend seeing it. Oh sure, they did that jerky camera work a bit too much but it succeeds because of the choice of actress (Jennifer Lawrence) to play the main character, Katniss. She is FANTASTIC. Awkward at times, brave yet vulnerable, a child sometimes, an adult other times, smart and driven, always. The movie lives or dies on how much we can connect to this character and she makes us love her.
But the movie also does a great job with a lot of the other characters. Kids we root for, kids we don’t. Kids whose death we feel very deeply. The mentor, played by Woody Harrelson, who has sent so many kids to their deaths that he no longer cares… until she makes him. The make-up artist, unbelievably played with depth and emotion by Lenny Kravitz. That’s right. Lenny Kravitz.
But for me, the movie succeeded because I loved the two star crossed lovers. How he admitted he loved on TV, how they came together in the games, how they nurtured each other, how they fought side-by-side.
A lovely little love story.
Ok, I like those.
It seems that, in the book, that love is not so clear at all.
In fact, or so I am told, she uses him (as he, perhaps uses her), just to survive and win the game.
When I heard this, I nearly fell off my barstool. Knowing that makes this a completely different movie. Not a better one, not a worse one, just a different one.
So, if you haven’t read the book, go for the characters, the wonderful imaging of a dystopian world and for the romance. If you have read the book, check out what they did with the controllers, see what an amazing choice they made with who they cast for Rue, and see if you can spot her inner thoughts by the way she acts. I suspect you can if you are not a romantic fool.
I may just have to see this again. And sit a bit farther back so I don’t barf when they jerk the camera around like the operator is having an epileptic fit.