In Which a Year of Eager Anticipation Comes to an End

Readers, I apologize for being a day late with this, but I needed the time to recover from what was a very long night following my trip to see The Hunger Games.

This post will come in two parts: part description of what I did, part review of the movie itself.

What you have to understand is that it was my birthday this Friday (yes, I know, Happy Birthday to me.  Thank you).  As such, it was basically the GREATEST THING EVER when I found out last year that THG was going to premiere on March 23.

So, yeah.  Anyway, I got to the theater with a bunch of my friends and saw the movie.  My friends are great and I loved being there with them, even though on one side we had the Girl Who Thinks We Won’t Notice Her Texting Every Twenty Minutes, and on the other we had the Guy Who Feels the Need to Tell His Buddy What’s Gonna Happen Five Seconds Before It Happens.  Not to mention the Girls Who Giggle Every Time We See Gale Because He’s SOOOO HAWT.

At least it wasn’t boring in the theater.

I had worked on a shirt all week, which I wore with my hair in a braid and with my Scholastic mockingjay pin attached to it.  Here are some pictures of the shirt after I finished with it:

What I basically did is read through the book again and pick out funny or moving quotes that I liked and then use fabric paint to write them.  The logo and “stay alive” bits were made using iron-on paper on which we printed the picture and words.

After we saw the movie, we came back to my house and had cake.  The cake is the thing I really wanted to show you guys.  It’s GORGEOUS:

The words are a couple of lyrics from Rue's Lullaby: "Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true. Here is the place where I love you."

It was based on a cake I had found on the Internet:

I can't find the original source, but needless to say this isn't mine.

I think the one I had looks better, though.  THE FLAMES!

Okay.  Second part.  The review.  I’ll try to do it as spoiler-free as I can (meaning my general reaction):

It was a decent movie.  Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be just like the book going in, but I didn’t anticipate the changes they did make.  Don’t get me wrong, they still had the core of the story in there, and most things were just like in the book.  But it was the little changes that got me.  There was some stuff cut that I didn’t think should have been cut, and some things were changed that I wasn’t okay with, but other things I liked seeing changed.

Maybe it was just that my expectations were so high.  I let myself think everything would be amazing and perfect and exactly like the book, and it just wasn’t.  In the end, I’m a tad disappointed, but I’m happy with the film all the same.  The acting is super, super amazing and I think Gary Ross did a fine job of capturing the situation these people are in.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Catching Fire.

HERE’S THE SPOILER-Y BIT.  Look under the cut only if you’ve seen the film!

Yeah, so let’s go with what I liked first, and then I’ll start ranting about the things I didn’t.

First of all, the sets were awesome.  The Capitol, the Training Center, the arena – just all of it was spectacular.  I had maybe one issue with the settings, and I’ll get to that later.

I thought Foxface was fantastic.  Jackie Emerson plays her, and I love how she just kept darting in everywhere (after she bumped into Katniss – literally).  And the way she ran right behind the boy from District 3 to get supplies?  GENIUS.

I really loved the way the film kept cutting back to the Capitol.  First of all, the Capitol citizens were just insane-looking and awesome.  Secondly, it was fascinating seeing the Gamemakers in their control room, calmly putting together the Games and casually planning how to kill kids.  I was having fun watching Seneca Crane himself, from his easygoing attitude about the Games to his political dance with Snow.

(Yes, I realize I’m basically starting at the end of the movie.  Bear with me here.)

While I’m on the subject, SENECA CRANE TOTALLY PULLED A SOCRATES!!!  That was a BRILLIANT move.  For those of you who don’t know, Socrates was a Greek philosopher who got in trouble with the government because he didn’t roll with their way of life, politics, et cetera.  Anyway, he was executed by being forced to drink hemlock (a very poisonous plant).  AND SENECA CRANE DID THE SAME THING.  Except with nightlock berries.  Completely brilliant.

Going back to the beginning of the movie, I loved the relationship between Katniss and her mother.  You could just feel the frostiness between them from the moment Katniss takes over getting Prim ready for the reaping.  It was beautifully done.

Caesar Flickerman!  Stanley Tucci was great in the role, and the scenes of him and Claudius Templesmith explaining what was going on in the Games was just a great way to let the audience know what was happening without seeming too intrusive.

I also liked the vulnerability Alexander Ludwig showed as Cato in the final scene.  He starts to cry and really show that even though he thinks the Games are an honor and even though he wanted this, he doesn’t want to die.  He’s just a kid.  He isn’t evil.

On to another tribute: Rue.  Little Amandla Stenberg was just adorable and I DID NOT WANT HER TO DIE.  You really understood Rue’s sweetness as well as her knowledge of the earth and plants and such.

Moving on: Elizabeth Banks.  Boy, can she act!  Effie was just as funny as she was in the books, and the way she and Haymitch were always in one another’s faces was priceless.

Speaking of, seeing Haymitch drunk in that first scene with him wasn’t bad either.  And I also appreciated the aspect of him being the one to suggest to Seneca the idea that both of his tributes might live.  That was a twist that I didn’t mind because it showed how clever Haymitch really is.

On to what I didn’t like.  (Oh, and this is going to be a long post.  Sorry about that.  But bonus points to you if you make it all the way through!)

First off: the relationships in the movie just seemed off to me.  For example, in the very beginning, when Katniss is hunting, Gale just shows up and starts asking her questions as if he doesn’t know what she’s doing.  Gale is Katniss’ hunting partner – he knows everything about her.  At least, he’s supposed to.

And again with Katniss and Peeta.  In the film, the arena romance is just a means to an end, when in the book it’s so much more.  Even when they’re only supposed to look like they’re in love, it seems like Ross cut most of it out.  They’re not told to stay together in training.  It’s Peeta who comes up with the idea of holding hands during the parade, and even then it’s just taken as a sign of pride in being from District 12.  I just felt like the whole romance thing, while not the point of the story, is still an important bit at least in the Games, and it was utterly lopsided with only Peeta showing any real inclination to present them together.  He had the job of keeping the thing alive.

Following from that, at the end of the movie, you didn’t get the chill between them as they went back to the district.  It was like nothing happened.  There was no revelation for Peeta, no acknowledgment by Katniss that it was all an act.  Nothing.

On to the absence of the Avox girl.  I realize she isn’t crucial to the story, but I think the relationship Katniss has with her is interesting and helps Katniss realize both what’s at stake and how horrible her society is.  She isn’t even mentioned in the film.

Another thing was the backstory for the mockingjay pin.  I thought I would be fine with it originating with Katniss/Prim and not Madge, but the thing where she just finds it in the Hob?  It really takes away from the sentimental value of the pin.  Not to mention there’s no further mention or explanation of mockingjays.

It's just so fantastic.

Another, smaller, change is the costumes for the film, notably Katniss’.  I don’t think any of them were as good as they were in the book.  The interview dress was just Chariot Costume Redux.  In addition, the candlelight dress was COMPLETELY ABSENT.

For all my love of the sets, the Cornucopia just did.  Not.  Look.  Right.  I get that it was supposed to be all futuristic and techno-ish, but really?  That blocky silver thing?  It was barely recognizable.

What else…?  Oh.  That’s right.  THE MUTTS.  More dog than wolf, but the biggest thing was they didn’t look like the dead tributes.  I mean, in the books the scariest part of that scene is the psychological bit: the fact that as Katniss is killing these animals, she’s killing what looks like Rue and Thresh and Foxface all over again.  And that just wasn’t there in the movie.  I think it really took away from the horror of that final scene.

Well, I guess that’s enough.  I know this was super, super long, but I tend  to get nitpicky.

Look, guys.  I enjoyed the movie.  I really did.  But some things just didn’t need to be changed.  I think they went too far, but then again, I never like films that stray too far from the book.

Happy reading.

EDIT: I just thought of something else: the way they sped up everything.  I realize there wasn’t time in the movie to have, say the days and days of rain in the cave, but I feel like maybe the plot was a little too rushed, especially considering that everything in the book is already fast paced.

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5 thoughts on “In Which a Year of Eager Anticipation Comes to an End

  1. Wow. Amazing cake. How did you get the mockingjay insignia on there? (Weird fact pertaining to nothing in this post: every time I write “insignia” I’m tempted to spell “ignasia”, because of the gedwey ignasia from Eragon that I always thought was gedwey insignia.)
    I’ve heard a couple complaints about the lack of the tributes’ eyes in the Mutts. In movie-making, one eye is as good as another, and the viewer won’t be able to tell the difference between one set of brown eyes and another.
    I hope it’s okay that I read through the spoiler part even though I haven’t seen the movie. I’ve read the book, however, so there aren’t too many spoilers in there.
    Great review.

    • The pin symbol was carved out of fondant and then slid onto the cake using a knife. It was only for effect, though; we got it off once we were done taking pictures. It’s still in my kitchen. Fondant isn’t too tasty.
      I should probably mention that neither I nor my family made the cake. It was the work of my mom’s friend, who is frankly amazing at baking things, as you can see.
      As for the mutts, the makers could easily have done a close-up of the eyes, perhaps followed by a flashback to the eyes/face of the tribute in question. I don’t think there’s any excuse for cutting out the psychological horror of the wolf mutts.

  2. (Be warned, it’s a long one)
    First off, WOW! You really made that TShirt? It’s fantastic, I’m desperate to get my hands on my own Hunger Games TShirt, and a Mockingjay pin but there so freaking expensive! :/
    Secondly, that cake looks amazing, so amazing in fact, I wouldn’t even want to eat it, I’d just like to stare at it for a couple of weeks 😛 Did it taste as good as it looks?
    Thirdly, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I hope you had a fantastic time, and how awesome is it that The Hunger Games landed on your birthday? You two were obviously meant to be, it was written in the stars. 😛
    Finally, awesome review! I agree with everything you’ve said. Especially the relationships being off. They weren’t completely terrible, but they weren’t too great either. I’m so torn about this film, there was a lot I loved but also a lot I was disappointed by, the main one being how Katniss comes across the Mockingjay pin! Totally wrong! Anyway, I’m going to stop there on the negatives.
    I think my favorite scene was either district 11 uprising, or do you remember the scene when Katniss has just got to the Capitol, and she’s thinking of how she’s going to have to fight and kill people and run for her life? And then that Capitol family gives their child a sword, and he’s all happy about it and starts playing with it, and Katniss just watches. I thought that was an amazing little scene that really showed the difference in thinking between the Capitol and the districts.
    Again great review, and Happy Birthday 🙂

    • Yes, I really made that shirt. I basically worked on it for about an hour every day after school in the week leading up to the movie. I’m glad you like it, thank you.
      Oh my goodness, I didn’t want to eat the cake either when I first saw it, it was just too gorgeous. But, yeah, it’s yummy too. It’s chocolate, but I think death-by-chocolate would be a better way to put it. Only when I have the tiniest slice can I finish it, it’s so rich.
      Thank you for the birthday wishes. Yeah, I basically started freaking out when I first found out, and I don’t think I’ve stopped quite yet. 🙂 It’s awesome, especially considering how obsessed I am with All Things THG.
      I think it was the relationships (for lack of a better phrase I use the term “emotional aspect”) that got to me the most. While the story certainly isn’t about the romance, this film made me realize how important it was to get a good balance there, and I don’t think that balance was struck.
      I’m neutral on the D11 scene. I realize it was useful to lead into Catching Fire, and it was done well, but I don’t think a tribute’s death by itself should have been enough to start an uprising.
      Oh, my goodness, I had almost forgotten about the Capitol scene. Yes, so shocking and so powerful. It hammers home the idea that the Capitol doesn’t think of the Games as anything more than that: a game. I really loved all the extra Capitol scenes they added, it really enhanced the whole film.
      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

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