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Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunger Games Week: Winners and Movie Review!

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FIRST, the winners! Rafflecopter sez...
Catching Fire and Mockingjay go to: DianeC
Hunger Games magazine and necklace go to: Kendra
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and entered!
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Hunger Games Movie Review (no spoilers)

I lived in fear that the movie would not live up to my planet-sized expectations, and thankfully that fear was not realized. The cinematography was gorgeous and chilling. The actors delivered fantastic performances (special blown kisses to Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Bravo sir!). The movie was both less violent than the books and more brutal. With Suzanne Collins heavily involved (screenwriter, executive producer) the movie fully reflected her theme about the brutality of war and the oppression of her invented future world of Panem. Early in the film, I was almost feeling guilty for my excitement to see it, because the intensity of the oppression was so finely rendered.

(Note: I have no doubts that Suzanne was chuckling into her tea as we lined up in droves, dressing up like fine Capitol citizens to watch the Hunger Games. Her point was delivered with a razor sharp stab of irony.)

The movie was perfect in every definable way: casting that delivered, costumes that recreated Collins' world, music that seamlessly enhanced the experience. My only quibble was that it didn't quite deliver the emotional experience of the book. In reading Hunger Games, I felt intensely the character's drama throughout the book, but specifically at several turning points. That was part of the book's brilliance! And the movie achieved this emotional resonance spectacularly in the scene with Rue - which I think all fans and Collins herself were acutely aware that they needed to do in order for the movie to succeed. Which is why I think there was about 10 minutes of film devoted to that one scene! And it was brilliant. If they had similarly spent the same amount of time on the other turning points of the film, I think it would be an unqualified success. Even at almost 2.5 hours, the movie still felt rushed. I hope that they will make Catching Fire a three-hour film, if that's what it takes to deliver the emotional impact points.

Of course, that didn't stop me from going to see it again on Sunday. :)

The second time around, the movie was even better, partly because the crowd was calmer (and quieter) with the mania of the opening weekend mostly past. I actually enjoyed the movie more the second time - I think the more subtle emotional points came out when the theatre was quieter, allowing me to be absorbed more in the film. So, for those of you who are trying to avoid the crowds - good call!

I highly recommend the film. It's sober, brilliant, and will stoke the fascinating moral discussions that makes this book so worth sharing with the young (13+) teens in your life.

p.s. I'm Team Peeta, just in case you were wondering. :)

I forgive you, Josh Hutcherson, for not having blue eyes.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?



21 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the movie. We were supposed to view it, not once but twice this weekend. Life got in the way and we never made it to the theater. Hopefully next weekend.

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  2. I haven't seen the movie yet, but will eventually. My daughter went to see it with a group of friends and she said they could've done a couple things better. She didn't care of Haymitch's sudden transformation from drunk to trainer where the book covers that tranformation a little better. And she didn't recall Cinna and Katniss's relationship being so father/daughter like. But she did really enjoy it.

    And really, most of the time, books will always do better with that emotional punch.

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    1. I think you're right that some of the emotional punch-lacking was unavoidable. Yet, the HP movies seemed to really do it well (once again setting the gold standard in everything). I think the people who love it most will also be the ones to quibble the most! But still love it. :)

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  3. I agree with your review 100% (and I too saw it on opening night, then again on Sunday and agree the quieter/calmer crowd was a huge plus). The movie reflected the books so well and I was particularly pleased with how the violence wasn't glorified at all--it was, as you put it, brutal, but it was also quick. It was a fantastic adaptation, in my opinion.

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  4. OK, I just skimmed over your review b/c I haven't seen it yet, and I want to know as little as possible going in. (Having already read the book, of course.)

    And yeah, I was thinking as I read the book how we're all just living up to her writing predictions. And how that's kind of brilliant.

    P.S.
    Gale.

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  5. I really enjoyed the movie. Book-to-movie adaptations are really hard to do well, and they did a good job. (I particularly liked a couple of the Panem scenes: Snow talking to Seneca about the underdogs in the outlying districts, and also Seneca's final scenes).

    It felt like a lot of classic dystopian sci-fi movies I used to watch as a kid (that's a good thing). I remember at one point thinking that, if it were one of those movies, the goal would've been to escape the games. So interesting that it's not (which I never noticed in the book).

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  6. Sue, I haven't read the book. What are your thoughts on seeing the movie before reading the book?

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    1. I would say the movie definitely stands alone. And if you hadn't read the books, you might even enjoy it more, without knowing what was "missing"! I was just reading one male reviewer's take - he saw the movie and now can't wait to read the books!

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    2. Thanks! Maybe I'll join my daughter when she sees it (if she'll allow me, LOL).

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  7. Tried to find tix over the weekend but forget it! I'll go during the week. Sober, that's a unique way to describe the film. I will be posting some interesting tidbits on THG this week.

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  8. I saw it twice, as well, and agree with your great review. I loved it but wanted more depth in some relationships and events, particularly the cave scene. Not perfect but still amazing.

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  9. I'd like to meet someone that isn't Team Peeta after book three.

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  10. Your review was perfect! It was wonderful. I loved the costumes, the characters, the music...everything. We prepurchased our tickets and got there 45 minutes early, so we could sit together. By the time the lights dimmed people were no longer able sit together. When we came out the line for the next showing went all the way from the filming rooms, through the theater, out the door and down to the end of the block.

    I thought I was going to get sick during the reaping scene...powerful stuff!

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  11. I agree 100% with your review. I'm curious to hear more feedback from viewers who hadn't read the book. My husband hadn't read it and felt the Rue scene was too long. Once I explained how pivotal it was in the book, he understood. But it did make me wonder how those who haven't read it view it, knowing how much understanding of the story I brought with me into the theater.

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  12. I thought the casting was perfect too. I loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, but they were all good. We had a couple of Prims in our group, and one girl with a Katniss braid. The kids--not the moms! But it was cute.

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  13. I'm so excited to see The Hunger Games! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  14. I have not seen the movie. Hoping the chance arises before it leaves the theater given so many things are happening.

    Glad you enjoyed it, not once but twice :-)

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  15. I loved the styling in this film. The Capitol looked like Oz gone wrong. It was a chilling reminder that whenever there is idle luxury, slavery is going on somewhere else.

    But I really, really missed Katniss' internal dialog. Without that, for me the anti-violence theme got overwhelmed by the violence.

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  16. I rarely see movies they make from my favourite books - they so rarely do them right (for me!). Harry Potter and LotR are 2 exceptions - and the reason I'll probably give this one a shot. That and the great reviews it's been getting from people I trust (like you!)

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  17. I saw the movie without reading the book. You can see my detailed review at

    http://suburbanfantasy.blogspot.com/

    Agree? Disagree? See what you think.

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  18. Everything you said -- I totally agree. I kept telling myself it was going to suck because I was terrified it would be screwed up, as are most movies based on books. But it was brilliant. My son and I want to go again, too. A girl in his class has already seen it four times. Obsess much? She's been counting down the days on a board at school and she dressed like Effie Trinket for the midnight showing! Her excitement was palpable, but like you, I almost felt guilty for that excitement once the film started. It far exceeded my hopes and expectations.

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