Hunger Games is an amazing movie. I hesitate to call it “perfect”, but I didn’t notice any flaws at all. The book is fantastic, and the movie is faithful to the book while still being a powerful film adaptation. In my view, it wins both as an adaptation of a specific work, and also as a dystopian sci-fi story on it’s own.
The performances are all solid and distinct, but Jennifer Lawrence is pitch-perfect throughout. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy is superb typecasting, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna paralleled, for me at least, the effect that Cinna has in the books – a small breath of genuine, while still ambivalent, benevolence in the midst of an ongoing moral horror story.
It was a relief to watch a movie where everything isn’t spelled out for you. There are plenty of silent moments where the strength of the acting carries the scene, rather than being handed exposition as is so common in movies. It has the effect on me that the same kind of storytelling does in prose – showing, instead of telling, makes the emotions and conflicts much more immediate.
I love this story because it is moving, alarming, angry, intelligent and ambivalent in all the right ways. Dystopia – nailed. Subtle paranoia – nailed. Roman/Nazi pageantry of violence – nailed. Starkly drawn characters who draw you in – nailed. Lord of the Flies for a reality TV age – nailed. Almost making me cry in the first ten minutes – nailed, and only Up has had a similar effect that early in the story.
Now I need to grab my wife’s Kindle and read the next two books. This movie definitely lifted Catching Fire and Mockingjay to the top of my very tall reading pile.
Overall, I give it 9.5 out of 10 Mockingjay pins. Riveting, and it only loses the .5 because I didn’t actually cry (which I did at the beginning of Up).