Once in a while a movie adaptation of a book is good enough to make lovers of the novel want to stand up and cheer. I think Hunger Games was a prime example of this. The movie, while not 100% faithful to the book, was wonderfully, refreshingly loyal to its original incarnation. I suspect it had something to do with Suzanne Collins working on the script, but maybe it’s more? Maybe Hollywood is finally understanding that movie adaptations turn out better when they stick to the plot of the book? (See: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson). Any book canon sacrifices in the movie seem to have been done solely for the sake of clarity for a brand-new audience, and those were handled deftly, if I may be allowed to say so.
Overall, I thought it was brilliant. It was visually perfect, as far as I’m concerned, and the some of the side characters did a marvelous job with a tiny amount of screentime. For example, I’d never felt much emotional attachment to Gale before (don’t judge, I’m only a couple of chapters into Catching Fire), but Liam Hemsworth made my heart ache for the boy more than Katniss’ narration has yet been able to.
Gah, I’m almost too pleased with this film to review it well! Jennifer Lawrence was a bit more trembly than I imagined Katniss being in the books, but on the other hand, she had nothing but her facial expression to convey everything Katniss tells us in the book, so I forgive her entirely for that. Josh Hutcherson was point-perfect as Peeta. Woody Harrelson was the only person who possibly could have played Haymitch, and his performance did not let me down. I always pictured a serious-faced Alan Tudyk as Cinna, but Lenny Kravitz did the job admirably.
And yes, I cried. When Katniss volunteered herself, when Rue… well, you probably know, but best not to say anyhow.
Even the end music was perfection. Haunting and lovely, exactly what you want walking away from that.
Now I better get finished with Catching Fire! Because really, it’s getting so good…