Yesterday, I went and saw 'The Hunger Games' with my wife. As we were talking about the movie afterwards, I told her I guess I didn't see what the big deal was all about. Not the movie itself...it was an enjoyable, well done movie that stuck pretty close to its source material. I was referring more to the little of bit of 'too much violence' controversy that has followed the movie. Many of the frequent early reviews said contained some variation of the theme 'this would be an excellent movie if it wasn't for all the violence.'
Frankly, I didn't see that much violence. Certainly no worse than what one saw in 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy. In fact, there were points where Katniss looked much less blood-splattered than Aragon.
My wife, perhaps more insightful of human nature than I am, said she thought the problem people had was that in 'Hunger Games', the violence was kid on kid. She may be right...I mean there aren't a whole lot of movies where you'll see a 17-year old reach out and just snap a 14-year olds neck.
When it comes to movies, she thought the real problem might be that folks have stopped believing what PG-13 is supposed to mean. 'The Hunger Games' is certainly a movie where you need to stop and evaluate your individual child. An 11-year old that plays a lot of Call of Duty would probably be fine. My 9-year old would have gotten weepy about the scene where they were roasting a squirrel over the open fire, let alone killing each other.
It is a good movie. They do as good of a job of translating the 'combat' section of the book to screen as they could have done. The only thing lacking in the transition to the movie is opening part of the book...you don't quite see how desperate and razor thin the edge is for these folks living in District 12. It feels too much like modern day Appalachia and not enough Mad Max.
The acting and casting are good. Is Jennifer Lawerance prettier than what I pictured Katniss? Sure...but she IS Katniss in this movie. They also re-do things a bit to make her a more sympathetic character. The movie lacks some of her internal monologue where is drives home just how much she is playing Petta, and how much she think Petta might be playing her. To watch the movie, you might think they actually like each other. I'm curious to see how they handle this in the later movies.
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket impressed me. The picture in my mind of Effie was closer to 50-something and dumpy, not a knock-out hottie like Elizabeth Banks is in real life...but she captures the character perfectly, and the make-up the have her in keeps her beauty from being distracting.
My wife dug Lennie Kravitz also impresses as Cinna, coming across as one of the few warm, friendly roles in the movie. Donald Sutherland, as the evil, manipulative President Snow is quite the opposite, but there is no one else I can picture in that role now.
Not a perfect movie, but one of the better 'from a book' movies I have seen in a long while. I would give it 8.75 out of 10.