Believe the hype: ‘The Hunger Games’ is amazing

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)

13 thoughts on “Believe the hype: ‘The Hunger Games’ is amazing

  1. Rocking up late here, having finally seen the movie (which was good, even if screenwriters do take the inevitable reduction in conversation between characters when a book is adapted into a film way too far), because I’m curious about people’s thoughts on a small moment.

    In the books Collins is scrupulous about always making half the characters women. Not just the tributes, it’s everyone from the political and military leaders down to the one-line townspeople, soldiers, stylists, children. For once in the history of speculative fiction we get to see a world that actually has as many women as men in it (so it can be done – who’d have thunk it?). And yet in the movie the gamemakers in the the scene with the roast pig all appear to be male. Do you think the filmmakers wanted the gamemakers to look really patriarchal, or did they simply slip back to default everyone-is-a-man-unless-stated-otherwise mode, as soon as there was a scene where the author hadn’t specified the gender breakdown?

    • Hi Orlando,

      Great points. I don’t know if they were trying to communicate patriarchal culture. Are the chief “bad guys” male? Snow and the gamemaker. Hmmm…


      • I kinda wish I could see the enpurpled faces of the director/producers/casting directors when they realise they are going to have to hire as many women as men for the next two movies. The books make it apparent that both the ‘peacekeeper’ and rebel forces are made up of women as well as men. I wonder, when we get to seeing groups of soldiers, are they going to be true to the book, and therefore mixed? Or will they call in the regular movie troops?

  2. Some people (who have never seen nor read the book) say that they are worried “About all the sex and nudity this movie will show to young teens” Um hello, This isn’t twilight people! There is no sex, a small amount of nudity (in the book) and the love triangle is nothing but a plot point. People should not complain about things of which they have no idea.
    Bri Pi.

  3. “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’m glad to hear you say this. Honestly, I’d LOVE to see a sitcom where the women is the dumb, drunk, fat one for once and the man is the smart, sexy, and sensible one. I want to see a female Homer Simpson with a personality as deep and interesting as Homer.

    That, to me, would be more interesting then the usual “all men are beer guzzling idiots who need their wife to bail them out of every sticky situation” we’ve seen in a million sitcoms which has become sexist towards men in it’s own right.

    Doubt it would ever get made though. People would probably scream “SEXIST” at a dumb, beer-guzzling, belching, woman even though it’s totally acceptable to have a male character who acts like that. That’s “equality for both sexes” for ya.

    Hmm… maybe I’ll make that show as an indy animated web series on Youtube where I have some freedom and won’t have executives breathing down my neck. See if I can go viral *picks up pencil and starts drawing*

    • jimtheanimator,

      Yes, I absolutely mean this. I want females to get to play all the roles. And I am totally with you, I would LOVE to see a dumb, drunk, fat woman on TV have a younger, hot, smart husband totally in love with her. yes, a female Homer. Liberate imagination for God’s sake, get us out these limited stereotypes that are bad for everyone. Make the show!


  4. While I liked the film, I was disappointed in the story line as it is so violent. As I understand it, this film is very popular with young girls. I agree with your review,Margot, but I hope someday we can see a film about female heroines who collaborate and get the job done without bloodshed and a return to the Roman times of colleseum shows for entertainment. If I had a young daughter now, I would not take her to this film. Matriarchies flourished in ancient times by solving problems with peaceful negotiating practices and loving support. I know. I know….but I am an optimist!

    • Hi Lucinda,

      I have thought a lot about this because I am writing a kids book. Must there be violence? Must there be wars?

      This is what I think: art depicts emotion. Kids live in the moment in dramatic worlds. They don’t get a toy and feel like their whole world is caving in. In fantasy world, you show that: the world actually caves in. You have a moment of feeling abandoned. In the narrative, the child is actually abandoned. You feel conflict and a great way to show that is a battle. If you were to draw emotions, how would you draw them? I was just listening to Taylor Swift sing about a critic: “You can take me down with a single blow.” He’s not punching her but using a violent metaphor describes her feeling when she read his words.

      I don’t think we can live in a world without conflict. I do think we can learn how to handle conflict ethically. I think we can do this by experiencing emotions and releasing them, and I think one great way to practice/ learn this is through art: reading a book or seeing a movie and letting yourself experience the emotions.



  5. I haven’t yet seen the movie but loved the book.

    I was so disappointed to read Roger Moore’s review today (syndicated by McClatchy-Tribune). He called the book “teenage girl fiction” because of a leg-waxing scene instead of seeing it as social commentary on ridiculous beauty routines that the Capitol subjected Katniss to.

    He also felt that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wasn’t convincing in love scenes. GAH! He said that he was looking for “teen heat” in her affections for Peeta and Gale. The implications of this are mind-boggling to me for all of the reasons that you blog about.

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