10 Things You Probably Didn’t Notice That Made “The Hunger Games” Movie So Kick-Ass
[SPOILER ALERT]: This post contains them, but not enough to make you want to kill me Hunger Games style. Read on.
So I recently wrote a half-assed snarky little post called The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read The Hunger Games, and apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing said side effects. In fact, some of you are way worse off than I am (Have you read the comments? Woah.), so, thank you for reassuring me that I’m not in this boat alone (although, if I were, maybe that would mean I’d won The Hunger Games, At Sea Edition. Score!)
I got a lot of comments asking if I’d seen the movie and if I’d be writing up a review, to which I replied that, no, I was going to be a good girlfriend and wait for my (super adorable) boyfriend to get back into town before I saw it.
And then I changed my mind.
I just couldn’t resist! So, I went today, at noon, with some trepidatiously high expectations. This is tricky territory, you know, these YA novels being turned into (usually sub-par) film adaptations. I was really rooting for The Hunger Games, though–the trailers gave me some hope that this might be the film to break the cycle. And I am SO pleased to say that the film absolutely delivered, and then some. It was amazing! But I think many of the things that made it so amazing were very subtle things that all added up to a total smash of a movie. So I thought I’d share a few of them with you. Below are the ten things–in no particular order–that you might not have noticed that made “The Hunger Games” movie so crazy-awesome.
1. Jennifer Lawrence is a master of the Blank Stare. Sounds totally crazy, but this is one of the first things I noticed. She can ROCK that whole staring-intensely-into-the-face-of-danger thing. This is impressive, guys! Have you ever tried to take pictures where you’re just staring into the camera? They always look awful, at least for me.
See? I haven’t used taken a picture without smiling in 25 years because it LOOKS ATROCIOUS. So, kudos to you, Jennifer, for not looking like an idiot when your smile muscles are idle.
2. The camera movements made me physically nervous. Did you guys notice this? It was most apparent to me in The Reaping scene. The camera was shaky, the shots were very short, which made the pace of the whole thing seem really fast, and the shots were so close-up on peoples’ faces that I found myself physically trying to move AWAY from the screen in my seat (which, obviously, I found quite difficult to do.) They did an incredible job of making me feel what they wanted me to feel. (Hello, Capitol.)
3. WHAT?!?! That was ELIZABETH BANKS? Wait. So, you’re telling me that THIS–
–are the SAME PERSON??? Wow. Congratulations, Elizabeth, on being completely unrecognizable–not just because of the makeup, but because of the absolutely spot-on portrayal of Effie Trinket. Who knew she had it in her?
4. Two words: Graphic. Genius. As a graphic designer, I notice things that a lot of people don’t, especially when it comes to fonts, color schemes, etc. So, for me, The Hunger Games was really interesting to watch, given all of the INCREDIBLE design work in the film–and not just graphic design, but of course costume and makeup design, set design, and even the futuristic product design (Did you guys see that crazy remote control for the windows in Katniss’ room? SO cool! Maybe that’s what the iPhone 24 will look like.)
5. No stupid monologues. Since Katniss spends so much time alone in the Games arena, I was concerned that they would use monologue to relay to us what Katniss was thinking–which I can’t stand! How cheesy would it have been if, after Katniss heard the cannons being fired after the initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia, she said to herself, “Ok, eleven Tributes down. That leaves 13 of us.” Cheesy. Instead, she counts (to herself! Bravo!) as the cannons are fired and we figure out what she’s figuring out right along with her. A very subtle thing, yes, but one that I really appreciated.
6. We get to see things from a wider point of view. In the book, we don’t get to sneak a peek at what’s going on in the outside world, unless Katniss thinks about it. In the film, we got a wider look at what was going on outside of the arena, which was really interesting. This also made the early appearance of Seneca (he didn’t actually show up until the second book, if you remember) make a lot more sense. We were able to watch his chats with President Snowduring the Games, which showed that Snow was on to Katniss a lot earlier than we knew about just from reading the books. (I love getting more backstory!) And how moving was it to see that uprising in District 11???
7. Ummmm… The Halucination Scene. Wow. I mean, wow. I don’t really need to say anything more, do I? If you saw it, you know how amazing it was. If you didn’t, you’re about to.
8. They left out things that wouldn’t have translated well on screen. Usually, I absolutely hate it when movie versions leave out parts of the story from the book. But, in this case, I think The Hunger Games movie left out a few things that I have to applaud them for. Like the whole “body-removal-by-hovercraft” thing. I think it would have ruined Rue’s death scene to watch a hovercraft appear and snatch her up like the claw game at an arcade. I’m also glad that they left out the ”the-wolves-are-actually-mutations-of-the-dead-Tributes” thing. Can you imagine how cheesy that would have been to watch on film? I probably would have reacted about the same way that I did when the wolves started “think-talking” to each other in Twilight–with raucous laughter.
9. The Hunger Games marketing campaign was pure genius. Lionsgate knocked the ball out of the park on this one. Through several calculated and gradually-released online marketing strategies (the incredible movie website, the Facebook campaigns they launched urging fans to run for “mayor” of their district, and that whole Twitter puzzle thing where they distributed tiny pieces of the movie poster all over the internet and asked fans to put it back together) coupled with strong commercial partnerships (Did you guys see that Starbucks has a new blend of coffee called Tribute?), they managed to creep The Hunger Games into every corner of our existence for months leading up to the release. The genius behind this? It made us feel like The Capitol was infiltrating our lives. It was like we were already a part of The Hunger Games before the movie was even released! Day-um.
And, finally, 10. There is absolutely no comparison between The Hunger Games and the Twilight movies.