So here we go, my thoughts. In order as much as possible, but sometimes I digress.
*SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT*
- So, I am SO SO SO very glad that they didn't do something cornball like have Katniss narrate stuff (like, say, the movie adaptations for a certain other wildly popular teen book series). I know this means that there was a lot of exposition and story/character development left out of the movie, but I'll happily take that tradeoff (because, well, I've read the book a million times, so I can fill in the gaps just fine. I know that's not true for everyone). I think that it was clever how they addressed some of those missing perspectives though - added scenes with the Gamemakers, President Snow, the TV broadcast, etc... I felt like it helped the story a lot. Like, having Flickerman and Templesmith explain what the trackerjackers are to the tv audience was really good. Also, I felt the editing helped fill in the missing pieces too - Peeta tossing Katniss the bread in the rain, Katniss's father dying in the mine explosion. I thought it was powerful and effective. The propaganda video that they showed at the beginning of the reaping was really interesting - I'd love to watch that just on its own and dissect it.
- I also appreciated the music. I have been hearing about the soundtrack and who's on it (Taylor Swift? Arcade Fire?) and I was REALLY disappointed because I didn't feel like this movie should have any recognizable artists. I kind of see HG has being kind of timeless and otherworldly, and hearing Maroon 5 would just ruin the illusion for me and would place the movie firmly in 2012 or whatever. (Kind of like when Battlestar Galactica broke out "All Along the Watchtower.") I'm glad they stuck to a score.
- The visuals were amazing. The shots of District 12 just REALLY drove home how poor they are. Like, in a way that my mind would never have come up with on my own. (Um, I totally had flashbacks of the intro sequence for True Blood, by the way.) The Capitol was interesting - I was expecting more grandeur, but they didn't show too much of it anyway. I know we're supposed to view the Capitol with a critical eye and be like, "THEY'RE RIDICULOUS," but as someone who loves artistic makeup and costuming, I thought it was really, really neat. (Cinna's gold eyeliner!!!) I was a little disappointed, however, that no one had any dyed skin or crazy facial tattoos though. I wanted them to go all out!!!!!
- The Gamemaker control center was AWESOME. I loved being able to see that. Seneca Crane had a good balance of doucheiness and humanity.
- Speaking of, I guess I was expecting all the mentors to be in a similar sort of room? I don't know why. Like, I thought they would've all been in a control center kind of like that, keeping an eye on their kids. *shrug* Just my thoughts.
- (Just a small thing, but I was REALLY HOPING to see Plutarch Heavensbee fall into the punch bowl when Katniss shoots her arrow at the roast pig.)
- I want to give a special shout-out to Effie Trinket, because I think she's my new favorite character (after Finnick Odair, of course). Elizabeth Banks was great. The accent was great. The makeup and costuming was GREAT. She was a wonderful bit of comic relief, and was annoying but still likeable. As she's supposed to be.
- I liked Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Maybe a little too much. I kinda think he's (Woody) is hot, so... yeah, Haymitch was better looking than he was supposed to be. Or is he? In Catching Fire, when Katniss and Peeta are watching old Hunger Games footage, she says something like, "He used to be somewhat of a looker." So, maybe this was just right.
- I'm such a crier to begin with, but it was ridiculous how much I cried during this movie, especially since I knew everything that would happen. Any scene that had Prim in it, tears would roll down my face. The entire sequence with Rue dying, especially the aftermath? I TOTALLY cried. Peeta crying in the truck next to Effie and Katniss on the way to the train? Oh god, gut-wrenching.
- Speaking of Peeta, I was pleasantly surprised both by Josh Hutcherson's performance and by how they wrote Peeta. I loved his interaction with Caesar Flickerman ("Do I smell like roses?") - it was pitch perfect. And JH did a good job playing him.
- You know, I wasn't really into JH before, but he's just got this piercing LOOK... Like, the scene before the Games when Peeta and Katniss are talking by the window, they kept showing JH's face in close-up with this... STARE... *fans herself* Yeah. Just sayin'. :)
- I was a little disappointed by the fire costume, just because I thought it would be... I don't know... MORE. I did like Katniss's interview dress (and I'm glad they kept the twirly part). I didn't think her Reaping hair looked particularly special or complicated - they make SUCH a big deal out of it in the book.
- Not going to lie, I was hoping for more blood. I know, I know, it's a PG-13 movie. But I'm almost 30, and I wanted more blood!!!! The stuff they did show was effective though. It was appalling seeing these young children (well, they're young to me, because I'm almost 30) whose lives were cut short. (The sequence at the end of the first day when they show all the dead tributes in the sky was actually really sad for me.) Katniss's burn and Peeta's cut looked brutal. Glimmer's body, gruesomely distorted by the stings. Speaking of...
- The actors playing the Careers must have done a great job, considering how I could not WAIT for them all to die. I nearly cheered aloud when Katniss dropped the trackerjacker nest on them. And also when she blew up their stuff.
- I still take issue with the fact that the girl who played Clove is so small - she's supposed to have a good 50 pounds on Katniss. I don't buy it that - what's her name - Isabelle Something could really pin down Jennifer Lawrence, but I suppose that's why they cut to a shot of her boot pinning down her wrist - some fancy fighting move? I don't know. But she looked pretty good throwing the knives.
- The guy who plays Cato is GARGANTUAN. He's got such a young-boy face, but he's HUGE. I remember when I first saw a full-body picture of him, and I was like, WHOA.
- I liked how they showed Foxface. They didn't feel the need to really say anything about her or who she is. I felt like they very effectively communicated her character just by showing us what she could do.
- The relationship between Katniss and Rue was perfect. There was a lot of emotion communicated in a small amount of time. The scene where they're sleeping in the tree, for example, said SO much.
- And as I said earlier, I was crying SO much when Rue died. The singing, the flowers, Katniss sobbing... And I LOVED that they added in shots of District 11 rioting. I thought that was AWESOME, because it foreshadows what's going to happen in the next installment, and plus, it was really powerful.
- The cave scenes... I'm glad they weren't too sappy. Katniss and Peeta's "romance" was exactly what it needed to be. I wish they'd preserved the moment of him telling her when he first fell in love with her the way it was in the book (my personal favorite moment), but I could live with that change. I guess.
- I do, however, wish they'd included the moment when she drugs him to go to the Feast.
- The notes from Haymitch in the sponsor gifts were a nice touch, though I kinda feel like they should be against the rules... Oh well, I'm not a Gamemaker.
- The final death... the mutts were kinda scary. I liked that there was some fighting on top of the Cornucopia (which, by the way, looked different from what I thought - I was picturing an actual Thanksgiving cornucopia, basketweave and all). I'm glad they spared us from hours and hours of Cato screaming in agonizing pain and terror before Katniss finally offs him. That part in the book always upsets me.
- I'm not sure how I feel about Cato's little speech right before he goes down. He's not a character that is supposed to have any sort of depth, but in the movie he says something like, "They just want a good show, don't they?" and I was surprised by that. Big scary guy with a little humanity?
- Jennifer Lawrence did a great job. She was able to convey a lot with her facial expressions, and I can believe that she's smart and sharp. I can believe that she's strong and athletic. But I can also believe that she's not all outgoing and smooth, and she doesn't always know the right thing to say.
- Last but not least... there was something I was REALLY hoping to see, that I didn't get to see much of: THE FOOD. It is called the Hunger Games after all - I wanted to see some of this fantabulous food that Katniss describes during her time on the train and at the Training Center. There is a large amount of detail used to describe all these elaborate meals, and I felt like the food that they DID show us in the movie didn't even nick the surface of that. I WANT FOOD.
All in all, I really loved this movie. I think it is good enough for what it's trying to do. If they wanted to be REALLY true to the book, they'd have to make it rated R and longer (and I would LOVE it if there were a version like that released on dvd or something), but it's good enough. It really sucked me in and held me. I think I was clenching my hands together the entire movie, out of anticipation. They didn't get everything in the book, but they got the really important stuff, and they added some things that complemented the story nicely. I felt, on the whole, that they really preserved the mood of the book, and I know that now, when I re-read it (which I'm going to do rightthisminute), having the movie in my head will only add to the experience. That's usually my biggest worry when I see movie adaptations of books I like - movies have a way of sticking in your head, so an adaptation has to be good and complement the images that I already have in my mind. Which this one does.
And now, we have to wait a long time for the Catching Fire... sigh... I guess I will just have to watch/read HG another twenty times until then.