The Hunger Games

Warning, I will be mentioning a few spoilers, just little things that were in the book but never made it into the film.

Believe the hype.  Well when it comes to the books, The Hunger Games Trilogy is the most amazing series I have read.  It actually has a plot, and proper angst, and action, a love triangle that doesn’t dominate the storyline, and horror that actually affects your characters and a definite lack of sparkling vampires and messiah wizards.  Hunger Games was an amazing read, I have never had a character so thoroughly abused, I loved reading as my character suffered multiple horrors and tried to pick up the pieces of their lives afterwards.  It’s not often that young adult fiction authors traumatise their characters so thoroughly, and then let the reader witness their characters put themselves back together as Suzanne Collins does.

Yes, since reviewing the trailer I was given the trilogy as a present and devoured them.  Hmmmm they tasted good.

Now here’s the problem:  I know the story therefore I can’t watch the film unbiased, and I have more information on the story than the viewer who hasn’t read the book, so I can’t say whether the film is good from their point of view.

Katniss Girl on Fire

This film is the most faithful book adaptation I have seen yet.  I know I said that about Twilight, but then Twilight has so little in it that when adapting it to film very little gets left out.  The Harry Potters (to my mind) are the worst adaptations, there was just too much left out.  Yes I know adapting them to film would have been incredibly difficult since they are so detailed, and it would have been especially since each film had a different director who wanted to do something different.

Peeta The Boy with the Bread

Ok so there were some minor alterations, and little bits and bobs that had to be left out.  Yet the biggest change to the story, yet it feels so right, was seeing the audience’s reactions and activities happening outside the Hunger Games when the tributes are in the arena.  Considering that Suzanne Collins took the idea for the Hunger Games from reality TV, the live commentary in the film felt right, even though it wasn’t present in the book, although it was needed.  In the book Katniss gave the reader information on things that she came up against in the Hunger Games like the killer wasps and the rules of the games, whereas in the film, the presenters gave us that information because as we all know, internal monologues don’t really work well in film.

My biggest gripe with this movie is:  THE FRIKKIN MOVING CAMERA TECHNIQUE.  I loathe it with the passion of a thousand suns.  I want to be able to SEE all the effort put into the film, not miss it all because all I see is motion blur.  Can you imagine what Lord of the Rings would have been like if they had used a moving camera for all its action?  That being said, it was a very useful technique to use during the Cornucopia scene, where we have the bloodbath.  It allows the film maker to somewhat shield the viewer from the brutality of 24 children trying to kill each other in order to survive.  Trust me, as violent and bloody as that scene was in the film, it tame compared to the book.  In fact a lot of the brutality and violence is dialled down for the film, I’m not saying the books are explicitly violent, but it was bloodier.  For instance the end, where Katniss and Peeta fight first the mutts and then Caito, those two get heavily injured, by the time they get to swallowing the berries, Peeta’s already received another serious injury to his leg, he’s gushing blood, practically at deaths door already, and Katniss hadn’t gone unscathed either.  In fact Peeta loses his leg, and receives a prosthetic limb.

I must admit my biggest gripe about the film, apart from movie reviewers who write terrible reviews because they don’t understand the complexity of the story and liken it to Twilight, was the Mutts and Caito.  Now with the Mutts they were described more as wolf-like, and I imagined them as werewolves, especially when they mentioned that they could balance on their hind legs and display human like intelligence, not to mention that the Mutts had the eyes of the deceased tributes, also their fur and colouring matched that of the tributes.  And then there’s Caito, a sadistic killer who has no qualms about killing children, and has this belief that he will win. He had no conscience and no problem that he was merely an object for the Capitol to use for entertainment.  So his little breakdown at the end of the film was just wrong.  It made Caito look somewhat human, suddenly realising he may actually die, and makes the viewer feel slightly sympathetic.  WRONG WRONG WRONG!  Caito has no humanity, up until the moment he dies in the book, he truly believes that he is going to win, he didn’t care that he was there for entertainment, he had spent his entire life training for the Hunger Games, and he loved every minute of it.  I think the only reason they put Caito’s little crises of faith in was to make him look more human and to remind the viewer that he too is a child.  But the thing about the Hunger Games is that it shows us how survival brings out the worst in humans, and how humans will kill for enjoyment.  Also studies have shown that children only stop mentally developing at the age of 25, and Caito has been trained all his life for killing, there’s no way he would have had that little meltdown.

The little monsters on break from killing each other. Aw their so sweet!

Another pet hate I had in the film was the way Katniss pulled her bow.  She would bring it right up to her check, mashing it against her lips, making her look idiotic.  I like archery, I’ve studied how people are posed in film, the use of composition in archery etc, I even took a couple of lessons, and there is no reason to mash the string of your bow to your face! In my opinion it looks amateurish, it’s bad for the composition of the scene and it lessens Katniss in the eyes of the viewer.  But that’s my only complaint about Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic, she showed true terror in the scene where she and Cinna are waiting before the games begin.  It was amazing.  I haven’t seen someone that good at showing terror in some form since Jurassic Park (don’t laugh) and the blond girl who screams a lot, and spends most of the movie terrified, that kid was good, fantastic facial expressions.

My favourite part of the book is the Tribute Parade, and Katniss and Peeta’s flaming costumes.  I had been dying to see it since the moment I read it in the book.  It’s a powerful scene and I couldn’t wait to see how they translated it into film.  Admittedly I imagined the flames a bit more all consuming, but I loved the films interpretation of it, and I also loved Katniss’s hair, it was so elaborate.

The Hunger Games is a really detailed book with an incredible amount of back story that is needed to understand everything that’s even mentioned in the film.  I think the film is more fan friendly than anything else because those who have read the books will follow and understand more easily than those who will wonder about certain gaps in the explanations.  I found a blog that outlined some of the most gaping holes in the story, read it;  it doesn’t give spoilers for the next books and explains the logistics of the Hunger Games world a bit more:

http://thehungergames2012.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/16-things-the-hunger-games-movie-missed/#more-3331

I really love the books, and if someone likens them to Twilight I will hurt them.  Yes there’s a love triangle, but it’s not the central theme of the story, friendship, loyalty, freedom, rebellion, good and evil and the grey bits in-between are more integral parts of the story.

This is all the Tributes costumes, you dont get to see them in the film

It's such a brief scene for so much effort, it needs to be seen.

Shame they're such silly outfits, poor boys.

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The Lorax AND Wrath of the Titans

Finally a decent film to go watch.

Now I wasn’t religiously raised on Dr Seuss so I don’t have many of his books, in fact I only remember one and it had something to do with fried green eggs and ham.  I find Dr Seuss books get turned into rather psychotic movies.  Such as The Cat in the Hat, which I haven’t watched, and How the Grinch stole Christmas, which I have watched and enjoyed, but there was something definitely unhinged about Jim Carey/ The Grinch. I enjoyed Horton Hears a Who tremendously, the animation and facial expressions were some of the best I had seen in 2008, it marked an immense improvement in digital animation showing the animators now had more freedom to explore expression in their 3d software.  Horton Hears a Who showed the animators were now able to “play” with their software.  I also enjoyed the narrative of Horton Hears a Who, what I didn’t like was Horton, again voiced by Jim Carey.  I can’t explain why I don’t like Horton, he was beautifully animated, I just found him slightly……. unhinged?  But then it’s Jim Carey, and he always plays unhinged so no surprise there.  What I really loved was that weird yellow creature Katie; she was so cute and slightly scary.  Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I find Dr Seuss movies are slightly weird, in a disturbed kind of way, which isn’t bad if you’re an adult, but they’re kids movies so one should feel slightly worried.

Now The Lorax looked fantastic, those little teddy bears were just too cute for words!  I loved the scene in the trailer where the Once-ler dropped his axe on the little bear, and it makes this cute little sound, recovers and then wiggles its tail, oblivious that it’s being blamed for chopping down a tree, while it is pinned down by the axe. It’s just so adorable, and strangely reminds me of my Yorkie Jellicoe, who even when she’s in trouble wags her tail.  I found The Lorax a visually stunning movie, it imitated the Dr Seuss art perfectly, but was translated well into a 3D animated style that had more rounded definite lines than Dr Seuss’s artwork.  It’s nice to see a children’s film with a definite message, that of respecting the environment, there hasn’t been one of those in a while.  What was also very interesting, and my friend pointed this out, is that its message is so current, dealing with an issue that must be dealt with today, and yet The Lorax is actually a very old book, published in 1971.  It shows that today’s issues of deforestation and pollution, capitalism and consumerism were issues that some people were aware of even in the 70’s.

Yes there is singing, like any typical children’s movie.  I didn’t mind the singing, I think there were actually only two numbers.  The opening song was brilliant, incredibly funny to watch, like the family who has a glowing kid, or the delivery guy who sings and does the splits at the end of the number and gets escorted down by the ankles (still in the splits) off O’Hare’s car.  I really enjoyed the song the Once-ler sung when he was becoming rich, I found it very bad-ass rock, and I enjoyed it choreography.  I loved Grammy Norma voiced by Golden Girl Betty White, she was so funny and cool, and sneaky like a ninja.  I totally loved her.  I also loved how the Lorax left the Once-ler, a beam of light from the heavens lifts the Lorax up and while he ascends he’s holding up his tail which raises his legs.  It’s hysterical, here we have this sort of biblical ascension reference, and the Lorax is lifting up his tail for support!  It’s so funny!

This film also had some very nice animation.  Nothing mind blowing, but it had some very unique facial expressions, totally fantastic and new.  Who knew you could manipulate the lips and jaw in that way?

I really enjoyed the Lorax, it had enjoyable characters, a good story, good comedy and those adorable little teddy bears.

Wrath of the Titans

Was there any hype for this movie?  When the first one was released we had spent a month being bombarded by the trailers.  I don’t recall seeing any trailers for Wrath in cinemas, but then truthfully I think I’ve only been to one, maybe two films since the beginning of the year, there seriously hasn’t been anything worth spending money to go see.  When my friends and I met up we realised that I was the only one in a group of four who had actually seen the trailer, and that was online and several months ago!  The only reason we went to see Wrath was because we all wanted a group outing, and it was Wrath of the Titans or 21 Jump Street, and no one wanted to see that!

It wasn’t a bad film.  We were looking for some mindless entertainment and we got it. Wrath didn’t tax the brain too much and its special effects were just so cool it entertained us nicely, and Liam Neeson was in it, and I am seriously in love with him.  I must admit the minute they said that they had to defeat Kronos, I flashed to Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, epic ending to the first series, epic book.  Kronos in Wrath is the kind of enemy you look at and scream ‘AW SHIT’ and run for your life!  How the hell is one supposed to defeat a giant walking volcano?  Well apparently Perseus can, on a Pegasus.  Shame that poor thing you won’t believe how many times I was afraid the horse’s wings were going to catch alight and fall to the ground burning? My sister became bothered by all the sand in the film, there was just so much of it being flung around, I just felt sorry for the poor soul who had to sit in front of the computer to animate and render it!  The only thing that really bothered us was the way the action was filmed.  Now I know hand held cameras that follow the action is all the range, but it was handled really badly in this film.  We had trouble seeing what was actually happening because there was too much motion blur, people spent too much time getting flung all over the place and we couldn’t see what was going on. It was particularly bad in the Labyrinth, too much falling and movement that the eye couldn’t track so the viewer had no clue what was going on and what they were seeing.  The whole point of cinema is being able to ‘see’ what is happening on the screen, so I hate an loathe with a passion hand held cameras, like the Bourne Films, I don’t watch them because I can’t follow/ ‘see’ what’s happening.

(PS these reviews are a tad old, I wrote them, and then forgot to post them)