Excellent review, SDG. And that's a nice tidbit about what inspired the author's material.
I saw a late showing of the film last night and a few things stuck out at me:
-Overall, I thought Ross did an excellent job of capturing the novel. He was mostly faithful to the material, while also cutting parts effectively. He captures the tone of the Capitol perfectly, and I thought the film did a great job of providing perspective outside of Katniss'. His use of the "announcers" and, particularly, the fellow who played the interviewer, worked really well. In short, the lead-up to the actual games was spot-on for me all around.
-When the games begin, I think the film does become a bit disjointed, but it's still ultimately satisfying for a while considering the material that Ross was working with. Often times, I felt like Ross was even elevating the material to a degree. However, I feel like the wheels really start to come off when Kat comes across Peeta hurt and camouflaged. I would say that part of it was the teeny-bopper audience I was with, but I still think the film botches the cave/love triangle thing. Up until that point the film didn't at all feel like the Twilight preview that came before it (talk about cheesy! How about the one line from that
teaser: "I didn't expect you to seem so...you." Ok maybe it's not that bad, but in the theater disconnected from any context it was hilarious). Which is a shame, because I don't think the fellow who plays Peeta is that bad of an actor, but he's not given that much to work with at that point. And, notably, this was the teeny-boppers favorite part of the film (if not when Rue's death finds vengeance-fulfillment!).
-Regarding the film's "ethical dilemma" (kids killing kids and the film qua entertainment and all of that): there was a moment toward the end of the film that was striking for me as a critic/fellow audience member. When Caesar is interviewing Katniss and Peeta after the Games are over, I thought the whole scene was kind of brilliant. The whole thing felt so
much like an "after the final rose" episode from the Bachelor. What was striking and ironic is that much of my audience reacted to it in the same way that the Capitol audience did--almost simultaneously
. Granted, maybe it was the screening I went to, but I had two take-aways from this: 1. The film's subtle mockery of our penchant for mindless entertainment was reinforced and solidified and yet 2. the film's hamming up of the love triangle that comes before the scene almost undermines the brilliance of this scene in a way by serving up the mindless entertainment. The film definitely takes the love triangle to a place that the book doesn't. Perhaps it was prep work for sequels (I haven't read the second and third books). Either way, it didn't work for me. Anyway, regarding the ethical dilemma, I do think the film (and book) fairly consistently has a serious enough subtext/moral subtlety to undermine potential problems with the kids-killing-kids for entertainment, but I also think for many moviegoers it is and will be what people fear it is.
-And, yet, what stuck out for me is that the film emphasizes something that is important to a discussion of the ethics of the material--namely, the last thing the Capitol wants is a martyr. In the narrative, this is what they fear could most undermine the dystopian regime. And I think this is noteworthy. I'm just not sure if some of the most important lines are as important to some moviegoers as they ought to be (like not "losing one's self" in the Games or becoming like the Capitol). I'm not saying it's lost on people, but sometimes it sure felt like I was watching THE HUNGER GAMES with the Capitol.
-Lastly, I thought Lawrence and Tucci were good, but, man, do I love Woody Harrelson!
Edited by Nicholas, 23 March 2012 - 10:58 AM.