I saw The Hunger Games last night — unspoiled! Meaning I hadn’t read the books or any reviews. I love letting stories unfold that way, with as few preconceived notions as possible. Here’s what I got from the film (not a review, just some reactions).
WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. Come back later if you plan to see the movie and want to remain “pure.”
- Jennifer Lawrence is very compelling as Katniss. I liked her in last summer’s X-Men: First Class (she played Mystique) even if she was, frankly, overshadowed by the two male leads. Her stoicism was, to me, quite refreshing. A resident of District 12 (a place that looks like 1950s Appalachia) her main concerns are putting food on the table and taking care of her little sister. She has a boyfriend of sorts,Gale (Liam Hemsworth) but her focus is survival.
- The Capital and its ridiculous Technicolor residents seem to be a gigantic homage to Oz’s Emerald City. Even a grooming scene is included! As always, Stanley Tucci shines as Caesar Flickerman, the game’s oily host. He’s delicately flirtatious with the girls, pretends to give the boys his man-to-man attention, and patronizes the smaller children — certain cannon fodder — with a big white smile. He’s like the evil lovechild of Regis Philbin and Ryan Seacrest. Truly, it’s an excellent performance and likely to be overlooked.
- I’ve heard a few parents say they wouldn’t let their children (girls, I fear) read the books or see the movie because of the violence. In this kill-or-be-killed scenario, no one emerges with clean hands. Without going into a rant about strong female characters who aren’t defined solely by a search for True Love … Katiss is a strong female character who isn’t defined by her search for True Love. If you’re going to ban your kids, especially your daughters, from reading any popular YA, for heaven’s sake, hide the Twilight books. Katniss is self-sufficient but not selfish; indeed, her participation in the games is born of self-sacrifice. She’s strong but not emotionless, tough but never cruel. Ignore Bella Swan (the girl who threw herself off a cliff when separated from her beloved Edward) and go for the Girl on Fire.