It's been a couple of years since I read the books, so my memory wasn't clear on many details. I think that made the movie more enjoyable because I wasn't comparing the two versions. I do think the movie was very true to the emotions and the heart of the book, and the few changes they made story-wise were necessary for the flow of the film. I also thought it was perfectly cast. I was nervous, as the last YA book-to-film I was excited about was woefully miscast and horribly directed and had some jaw-droppingly stupid moments added in. Yep, you know what I'm talking about. It's inevitable that we fans would draw some comparisons between "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight". After all, both books are YA with a leading heroine; both books feature gore and death, though "Hunger Games" is decidedly deathier; and both books have a heart-tugging love triangle. To compare Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence is terribly unfair. But I'm going to anyway. Stewart looks like a cardboard cutout onscreen, and Lawrence shines. Stewart's attempts at subtle emotional expressions look like she's sulking or simply deadpan, while Lawrence's subtlety is perfect and her face is so expressive, even when it isn't spelled out for the audience, we can tell what she's feeling.
So bear with me a moment as I repeat what everyone is saying: that Jennifer Lawrence is brilliantly well cast as Katniss- authentic, powerful, strong, but still a teenage girl, whose heart doesn't know what it wants. She's pretty, but not distractingly so-- she looks real. Believeable. And compelling-- you can't take her eyes off her.
|Liam and his hunky-Thor brother, Chris and Chris' eyes. Yum.|
I especially loved Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. He absolutely broke my heart in Bridge to Terabithia 5 years ago. I could tell he was one to watch. Good looking, talented, and has that elusive presence all screen actors try to capture. He was so good as Peeta-- emotive, adorable, smiling at the crowd, heart-breaking when he talked to Katniss, just wonderful. Exactly what I pictured as I read the books. I do have to say, though, that his hair color doesn't look natural to me. Most likely that's because I know he's really not a blond... but it looked fakey-bad... and they left it dark in the flashback scene where he throws the bread out to Katniss in the rain. Um... poor editing? Just confusing? Yes. But maybe only to me. My boys didn't even notice, or care.
The casting is the biggest difference between HG and Twilight. The Edward of my imagination was good looking, Adonis-like, beautiful and muscular. The Edward of the film looks like a British misfit, bad teeth, worse hair (in the first film, especially), skinny and sick-looking. Not what was in my head at all... but with the casting of HG, they have managed to cast people who look exactly like their fictional counterparts, and who lo-and-behold are actually rather talented actors!
For the first time in a long time, I'm excited to see the sequel next year... or whenever they release it. I can't remember the last time I was excited for a sequel. Unless you count the Avengers... don't get me started...
UPDATE 3/29/12: My friend Diane brought to my attention that I neglected to mention Woody Harrelson, who is absolutely spot-on as Haymitch. I wasn't sure I would like him; I haven't seen him in anything in so long, but I can't imagine Haymitch being played by anyone else! She also reminded me that I forgot to comment on what I call the "Bourne School of Camera Work" shooting of the fight scenes-- especially the one set on the large, metallic cornucopia. I despise scenes shot up close and with the cameraman doing the disco as he rolls film. There weren't a lot of them in this movie, thank goodness, but it was distracting when they shot like that. Thanks, Diane, for helping my forgetful-prone brain on this one! :)