My Thoughts on The Hunger Games Movie
For me, there are a few signs that tell me I'm watching a masterpiece of a drama/thriller. If a movie shows me these signs, then I consider them real works of art because they encompasses everything that I want from an intense, emotional, movie watching experience. I leave feeling like I got my monies worth.
The Hunger Games had all of these signs...
1. I don't see the actors, I see their characters.
They are no longer "so and so" actor that I'm watching and thinking how good they are doing or bad they are doing at convincing me that they are the character, rather they become the character I am watching. I believe them.
That is how it was while watching both Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson in the Hunger Games, about 10 seconds into her first scene, Elizabeth Banks was no longer Avery Jessop from 30 Rock, she was Effie. Same with Woody Harrelson. I saw him at first as himself but after only a small amount of screen time, he was Haymitch. And they remained Effie and Haymitch throughout.
Great acting is when acting is no longer seen as acting.
I didn't have another point of reference for the other actors in the movie so I didn't have the same sensation with them but I have to say, though I had never seen them in other roles, they were all very impressive. I never once felt that I was watching acting.
A stand out was Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. The minute they called Peeta's name as a contestant in the Hunger Games, his first reaction, his face, his eyes, I wanted to hug him. You felt his bewilderment, his sorrow, his fear, everything, just by looking at his face when they call his name. And that connection made in that scene remains throughout the rest of the movie. Bravo Josh Hutcherson. Bravo.
I never felt that I was being manipulated to feel for the characters, I just felt for them simply because they drew me deep into their world.
2. I hate the movie in the middle of it because I'm too invested in the ending.
Half way through the movie, when it had just gotten too intense, I leaned over to E and said "tell me right now if Peeta dies!! I can't watch any more if he does." At that moment, I just couldn't feel any more for these kids without knowing something good, like not dieing, was in-store for at least one character that I was invested in.
I hated Blood Diamond too about half way through it (but it's one of my favorite movies) I get so emotionally involved when it's a well acted, perfectly paced, well written, suspense thriller/drama. This movie was all that.
I hated it because it was kids killing kids. That was awful to watch. I had to have some hope to hold on to, when E responded to my question with "no, he doesn't die in any of the books." I could bear to watch the rest of the movie.
3. I am transported.
With watching Lord of the Rings, I had read the books several times and so being transported to Middle Earth was easy, I had been many times while reading the books. But like I said, I had not read the Hunger Games books, E had read me a few pages and told me about the books, but the world it encompassed was not real to me before viewing the movie.
In the first scene, I knew where I was and I wanted to know more about this post apocalyptic landscape. I felt like all of it could possible happen one day in the real world. I believed in the world so, being an activist type, I started to analyze the metaphorical applications of the movie and I saw deep and troubling social commentary.
4. I think about the movie for days and days afterward.
I couldn't sleep when I got home and in bed at 3am, after watching the movie. I replayed scenes over and over in my mind. They haunted me. I felt like I had gotten a glimpse into their world, it fascinated me, made me think of them and their plight over and over again.
A great movie stays with you.
You get to know the characters, you enter their world, and you form an emotional attachment to them.
Great movies shape pop culture and spawn catch phrases, remakes, Halloween costumes and baby names. This movie will do that. I'm wondering how many Katniss's we will see this next year?
I don't want to say that The Hunger Games is a perfect movie but it had all the elements of a perfect movie experience in my opinion.
It's a serious movie that never feels cheesy or manipulative. It's superbly acted by everyone in it and as a bonus, it has Lenny Kravitz wearing metallic gold eyeliner.
Seriously, what more could you ask for?