Flawless Performances Outweigh the Disappointments: My No-Spoiler Review of "The Hunger Games" Movie
In a word, that describes my experience after watching the midnight showing (in IMAX) of "The Hunger Games." I do not want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I have to keep this brief. And "wow" really does capture what I felt.
A good wow, of course. Yes, there were disappointments. Events and quotes do not follow the book exactly (which we knew ahead of time from seeing the trailers, right?). But I was disappointed at how many things veered from the original. Some of my favorite details of the book were either absent, condensed, or changed to give the scene a different feel or meaning. I'm not going to be specific, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little miffed by some of the changes.
That said, the performances were STUNNING. I mean, EVERY SINGLE ACTOR was flawless. They were brilliant. They played their parts so perfectly. The stand-outs for me were Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), of course. But even Liam Hemsworth (Gale) made me rethink his character--I'm not a Gale fan, never have been. But somehow Hemsworth made me like him. Seriously! Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) was exhilarating. Elizabeth Banks was so animated, so perfect as Effie. And Lenny Kravitz (Cinna) was impeccably subtle.
Wes Bentley was a stand-out as Seneca Crane. Really, he was marvelous. His role was a lot bigger in the movie, and I am glad. And Alexander Ludwig (Cato) played his part so well. He made me feel the same way I felt about him in the novel. In every single part, including the end.
I guess I could just list the entire cast here, because, like I said, every actor was perfect. However, Hutcherson was really the one who made the movie for me. Any time his lip quivered, my eyes welled up. Though Lawrence was completely radiant (yes, she was as radiant as the sun) in the movie, it was Hutcherson who got to me. His facial expressions were so incredibly dead-on. But, it makes sense, because it was always Peeta who I empathized with in the novel.
I did not single out Woody Harrelson (Haymitch), though he played the personality of Haymitch quite well. Yet, he also added his own little spin to the character. I can't get past that when it's a novel I love. I don't want the actor to take creative liberties with my beloved literary characters. For those who haven't read the books, he is perfectly contemptuous, sarcastic, and drunk. For me, though, I wanted more from Woody as Haymitch. Like some of my favorite lines delivered. Even though there were still great "Haymitch" moments, they didn't pack the punch that his moments in book do.
Overall, I am pleasantly pleased with the movie. I will see it again. There are so many moments I wish I could have paused and hit the rewind. And without giving too much away, I have to add that Peeta's camouflaging is exemplary. The make-up, costumes, location/setting, music, and cinematography were faultless. Are there some inconsistencies? Yes. Did it ruin it for me? Absolutely not. The added scenes and the impeccable acting made up for the disappointing details.
Did I say this was going to be brief? Sorry!