I just saw it. LOVED it! The acting is so great. It is perfectly cast from Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss to Wes Bentley as the gamemaker to Donald Sutherland as President Snow.
I was concerned that Hollywood would mess up the book somehow, but I was so impressed with this adaptation. Here are some aspects of the movie that I was especially grateful for:
Hollywood does not sexualize Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss in any way: When I was reading the book and came across certain scenes, I was sure this would happen. When Katniss strips down before she meets her stylist, Cinna (another perfect casting, played by Lenny Kravitz) I thought to myself: Here’s where they’re going to show her naked. But they didn’t. Not even a bare shouldered camera shot to hint at nudity. In that particular scene, she’s shown wearing a hospital gown. In the book, where a female tribute traces Katniss’s lips with her knife, I thought: In the movie, there’s going to be some kind of S & M lesbian vibe going on. Negative thoughts, I know, but so many great books have been ruined on the screen. Turns out, in the movie this knife scene is only frightening.
They are an equal number of male and female tributes: A male and female are chosen from each district. I thought about this because when I get upset about the lack of females in Hollywood roles, I get comments all the time like: Do you want equal rights in drafting? Do you want equal rights for characters who play dumb people? Yes and yes. I’m against drafting, but also against men being drafted and not women. As far as men playing more dumb people (I just got this comment again in response to my criticism about the lack of female characters in the upcoming, animated “Pirates!”) I don’t want females to be only portrayed as smart, brave heroines. Women are no better than men. I want women portrayed as the complex characters that they are. In movies, often different character traits get assigned to different characters. I want women to get to play all the parts. I want women to exist. In “The Hunger Games” females span the spectrum: they are lethal, kind, cruel, weak, brave, shy, serious, superficial and complicated.
There is no mention in the movie that Katniss is the exception of her gender: So often when you see a female protagonist who you could call a feminist, she is portrayed as the exception of her gender. You’ll see her surrounded by males or even see her dressed up as a male, Mulan style. I don’t mind this once in a while, but it happens too often. Never in “The Hunger Games” does any character say that Katniss can fight as well as a boy, is as smart as a boy, acts like a boy, or can do anything a boy can. No character reacts to her skill or bravery with: “Wow, a girl can shoot!” In this way, “The Hunger Games” breaks free of Hollywood’s gender matrix to create a truly feminist movie.
Females work together to save each other: It is so rare in Hollywood to get to see two females in an action adventure movie act bravely in order to save each other. The scenes with Katniss and Rue were my favorite in the book and my favorite in the movie. (Part of what is so great about these scenes is also the lethal Tracker Jackers, genetically engineered wasps whose poison stings make the victim go mad with hallucinations before she dies.)
Besides my own personal feminist take on everything, this is such a great movie. All of the acting was impressive. I’d read the book so I knew what was going to happen, and I was still on the edge of my seat. The filming was engrossing, it was done with lots of close camera shots; everything seemed so close and real, it was terrifying. I loved the scenery, watching how the Capital was depicted as well as the Districts and the arena. The whole commentary on reality TV and selling out to please the crowd is well communicated. Hollywood added just a little more perspective from the Gamemakers than is in the book, and I thought those scenes were also really well done. If you’re concerned about violence, the movie is not gory. Also, please remember that violence in the imaginary world is metaphorical. Don’t take that metaphor away from females. Katniss shows us how to be a survivor without losing your soul, how to play to win but keep your morals. That’s a universal, human lesson. Katniss is a great heroine, a modern day Artemis. I can’t wait for the next two movies.
Reel Girls rates “The Hunger Games” ***HHH*** (I’m replacing Gs for Girlpower with H for Heroine in Reel Girls’ rating system. Girlpower seems over used and to have lost its meaning to me; I’ll change it throughout Reel Girl when I get a chance)