Hunger Games Movie Review

So, here it comes. The generic movie review from superfan perspective. May the over-adulation begin!

The Hunger Games is the latest action blockbuster to be delivered to the fan-girl/boy masses, but the questions are – was it any good, and will it be the next big movie franchise?

Hunger Games the movie is based on the first in the bestselling trio of novels by American young fiction writer Suzanne Collins. The story depicts a dystopian future where the world is now known as Panam. 12 outlying districts are ruled over by the Capitol and every year each district is required to put forward a ‘tribute’ of one boy and one girl, who are put into an area and made to fight to the death. The sole winner is allowed to go free and return as a celebrity, with fame and riches, now able to avoid starvation in the districts and live out their lives in comfort. Readers follow Katniss, the district 12 tribute who volunteers in place of her younger sister. She faces the moral dilemma of perhaps having to kill the male tribute from her district, Peeta, who once saved her from starvation. Peeta is revealed to be in love with Katniss, but this potentially tragic love story is complicated by Katniss’s friend-who-could-be-more-than-a-friend from home, Gale. 

I will avoid spoilers because that wouldn’t be fair to anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie or had the entire series explained by an over enthusiastic friend.

Before I address the future of the films I have to say one thing. 

I absolutely LOVED it!

I adored the book series, I have been following them from the very beginning and have spent the past two years bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement at every *EXCLUSIVE* sneak peek video clip, cast list, cast rumour, plot twist and pop culture comparison. I was one of those super fans fuelling the fire beneath those silly movie execs that were on the fence about committing the series to film. After seeing the finished result – you may thank me now! And the rest of the wonderful fans, of course. 😀 

So, enough of the barely contained adoration and onto the impartial (ish) analysis.

The film sports a cast of experienced and extremely talented actors including Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Melark.  

Stanley Tucci

Tucci has excelled in every role I have ever seen him in, from child murdering creep in The Lovely Bones to gay, high fashion assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. I challenge anyone to find a role he cannot make better and make his own. Here he plays a charismatic TV chat show host for the games.

Sutherland, well, do I really have to explain? The man is a living legend and his son (Keifer Sutherland, 24) is heading the same way. In this he plays the leader of the capitol, effectively a dictatorial old man (could there be a more current affairs appropriate time for a Hollywood super villain?) and with his soft, somewhat ambiguously accented voice, he pulls off the quiet intimidation of a powerful man well. 

Josh Hutcherson has been cast as the leading man and pulls the sweet and sturdy persona of Peeta off with an ease that suggests he is barely acting the role. He will be setting girls hears a flutter with his portrayal of the love-struck and likeable Peeta, fighting in the arena without a hope for himself, but rather praying to get Katniss home to her family.

Josh Hutcherson
Josh Hutcherson

Relatively new to the game is Liam Helmsworth, playing Gale. Tall, dark, handsome and (for some reason…) dating Miley Cyrus. You may have seen him in the (excellent) mind-fuck of a movie Triangle. About all you need to know about the man for now. The Aussie plays a fairly minor role in this instalment, but in the book seems to be an ever-present factor in Katniss’s thoughts throughout the games. This presence was underused in the film, which was a little disappointing as I don’t feel it builds enough hype to the importance of his character in the next two instalments. I can only imagine it was to minimise the confusion between loveliness and maintain true to the main focus of the story, which is the fight for survival, but they may find they have made more work for themselves in the future.

Liam Helmsworth

Saving the best for last that leaves us with the Girl on Fire, Katniss Everdeen, played by the stunning Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence was absolutely outstanding. Having been nominated for an Oscar for her role in Winter’s Bone ­­­­­­­­­­­last year, the 21-year-old has a wealth of experience already and has developed her skills to the point where she could have carried this movie with ease, without the impressive list of co-stars. Lawrence perfectly captures Katniss’s core values of being a lethal hunter, surviving for so long in harsh district life only by containing her fear in order to provide for her family, with the vulnerability of being a 16-year-old girl thrust into the altogether more terrifying environment of the Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence

The only slight criticism I could make is that she is not exactly the Katniss I had in my head from reading the books. I saw a malnourished, pale-faced girl, possessing all the qualities Lawrence gives our heroine. But she has an answer to justify her more curvaceous, healthy figure. In an interview with GLAMOUR magazine she said “…Kate Moss running at you with a bow and arrow isn’t scary…”. She makes a very valid point. I accept that and, as I read that interview before seeing the film, I had that idea already imprinted in my mind. Therefore she is Katniss Everdeen, and I am glad of it.

Paying homage to an array of influences, it is unavoidable that comparisons are going to be made to other works. The idea for the story, whilst fantastic, has been done before in a variety of formats. From The Lord of the Flies we can see what happens with the breakdown of reasonable society (take note anarchists). From the likes of Battle Royale we see a similar fight to the death from children, randomly selected and set upon each other in a bit for survival. There are many other examples, Collins herself cites the inspiration for her story to have come when channel hopping between reality TV and a war documentary.

Regardless of whether it has been done before or not, the fictional setting is entirely of her own creation (forget that, yes, there have been many other fictional dystopian societies used as the settings for novels) and it completely adds the feeling of secular seclusion and total societal control that the Capitol has over each of the districts.

Overall, I loved this movie. I thought it was a great compliment to the books and that even if you haven’t read the books you can still enjoy it. 

However, I do feel that you might enjoy it more if you have read them beforehand. Simply because, as with all movie adaptations, certain details have had to be glossed over for the sake of keeping the pace and the interest. With a prior knowledge of the content you can fill in the blanks yourself. I wasn’t alone when I came out of the movie and said I had a sort of inner monologue running throughout it, filling in what Katniss was thinking in certain situations, remembering little details that help justify certain characters actions and so on. It really just adds a little depth and richness to the characters. 

UPDATE FROM WHEN I ORIGINALLY WROTE THIS

Yeah, so I actually wrote this about two days after the film came out because I saw it the day it opened in the UK but forgot to upload it. Since then there has been an update with regards to the filming of the sequel. They have had to begin a search for a new director because of time restraints. The studio is looking to have the movie done by next April so that interest is kept high and fans aren’t left waiting for years and years for all three to be completed. However, star Jennifer Lawrence is to begin filming for the new X-Men movie in January, limiting the time available to get the script written and all that, so the director of the first movie has dropped out. He says that he would feel he couldn’t make such a good attempt at it, given the small time frame he has been given, along with other projects he himself has committed to.

Hunger Games main trio
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You Can Now Drink Socially Over the Internet??

We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day, you’ve been at work/uni/generally out living your day-to-day life. You get home and you’re tired. You think, I really want a wee drink but… I’m on my own…

So you crack open that cheeky wee bottle of wine you keep stashed in that cupboard you never use, or pour a spirit from an already open bottle and never tell another soul. 

Because you are afraid they will judge you. But drinking in moderation is not a bad thing and it is an almost inevitable thing if you are a student. Furthermore, there is well documented evidence that a glass of red wine on occasion can actually improve your health.

cheers! 😀

But, by then end of the night the wine bottle is empty, the glass forgotten a long time ago and the measures have become “generous” to say the least. 

We’ve all been there. Drinking alone even when you feel you should be with at least one other person to make it socially acceptable. And let’s face it, if you are still unlucky enough to be living with your parents, they just don’t count. We feel guilty about drinking alone because alcohol is something that the majority of us consume in social situations, rather than as a general rule. Few return home and immediately hit the booze. Instead, it’s more likely to be a glass of coke or water or a cup of tea or (my personal favourite – read my entries on Lent) coffee.

But now, it has become possible to drink socially, in your own home, on your own. 

Paradox, I hear you say?

Well no, actually. The internet has become saturated with a whole host of social media, from Facebook and Twitter, to SpillIt and Flickr. All of these allow free interaction between users in ways that are largely text based, rather than face-to-face. Though there are certain options available for actual visible face-to-face contact with services such as Skype, the majority of people do not bother as a rule. It is easier to talk to multiple people at once if you do not have to worry about the person on your screen while you type as well – that is way too much like hard work! It involves having several conversations at once, as well as a combo of typing and speaking; no-one has skills that mad! 

facebook logo

So, I conducted an experiment.

I was talking to a friend via the (less than adequate) messenger service on Facebook and we both happened to mention that we were having a drink – it had been a long day, don’t judge me etc etc – and immediately my attitude changed. I no longer felt like I was doing something tabooed or anti-social. In fact, I felt like I was socialising. It is so strange, but I literally felt like my frame of mind had changed.

I was no longer sitting at my dining room table wrapped in a slanket, half eaten Easter egg on one side, half empty bottle of white on the other. I was down the pub in a smart/casual t-shirt, half pissed regular on one side, half empty glass of white on the other. Same result, different beginning – late to bed, wake-up wondering why I smell of fermented grapes and trying to remember that hilarious thing my friend had been saying last night. 

So, while I do not condone drinking early in the day unless it’s for a good reason – it is a slippery slop, friends – I do think that, if you are in need of a little bit of relaxation without the hassle of getting ready and going out, then the answer has arrived! 

It sounds extremely sad, to be drinking alone, because our societal understandings and conducts have labelled it in such a way, but if you are talking to people who are doing the exact same thing as you, then… what’s the harm? You feel like a little less of a loner and you stop stressing and have a few laughs? All this from the comfort of your own home. Of course, that is so terrible… (you can’t hear sarcasm via text, but give it a go in you’re head. Make it in a Scottish accent as well, that’ll help with the sentiment 😉 ) 

Please be aware that I am writing this immediately after finishing aforementioned conversation with like-wise solo drinking friend. Oh no, I’m sorry, she was not solo drinking – I was right there with her…

Cheers! 😀

Me at New Year - just thought this might amuse you since there are no pictures of me drinking in a blanket...

Me at New Year - just thought this might amuse you since there are no pictures of me drinking in a blanket...

Lent (5)

So I should probably have kept a more detailed track of my goings on over lent, that way this experiment might actually be valid in some way…

But alas, I have been busy.

Despite this falling somewhat by the wayside, I have this to report: it is day 36 and I have almost entirely stopped feeling caffeine cravings!!!!!

It only took over a month but hey-ho, let’s forget about that… 😉 What I have found is that on certain days I will feel an almost constant craving, but it is very faint, and extremely easy to ignore. I only notice it on days when I’m feeling really run down or I’m really tired and take a break. It hits me when I’m sitting in a state of semi-relaxation. Nice, y’no, to be sitting there, resting, happy as a pig in shit, then suddenly become aware of this little gnawing emptiness, somewhere on another plane, but situated close to you heart. I think it might be a tiny unfulfilled part of my soul… But generally it hasn’t been that bad. In fact, as time has gone on, it has become significantly easier.

I do actually feel quite proud of myself. It has not just been 40 days and nights. Oooh no, it has been more like 40 Days of Night.

This past month or so has been one of the most stressful for a long while, perhaps even in the past year. There has just been so much to do, with Uni and friends and deadlines and work and family and trying to balance all of the above… it has just been something of a mammoth task. And in times of great stress or unrest or, indeed, unhappiness, we turn to out vices, our addictions. For me, that would have meant a steaming cup of Joe… but not this month.

That’s right, I held strong. I did not crack and for that I am just a tiny little bit proud. It is such a miniscule thing in the grand scheme of things, but it has been important to me. I have been able to put mind over matter and say no. I am glad to be joining the ranks of thousands of others who have accepted a similar challenge.

I think I will do this every year. Perhaps not coffee, but with something else. There is a whole host of superfluous nonsense floating about one’s periphery, it would be more difficult choosing what to get rid of than actually giving it up. But in some ways I have enjoyed the challenge.

nom nom nom...

A health benefit I did not expect to see from it is that I am not eating so many biscuits. I am still eating a fairly worrying amount of them, but it has certainly made me more aware of the sheer volume I am stuffing down my throat. An unfortunate thing about coffee is that it goes exceedingly well with all known manner of treat, sweet or savoury, hot or cold. There is nothing I can think of, dessert/munchie style, that cannot be complemented by a good cup of coffee. I would almost always sit with something to nibble when I had a coffee.

Now that that is gone, I was still getting the hunger pangs, and to begin with I couldn’t understand why. Because I did not have a drink in my hand, it did not click to me that it was time to have a munch. My stomach and I apparently have differing ideas on timing, however, and it responded with despondent groans when I did not fill it.

But I have decided to take control. I think out my day and the likely way it will go and slot in the places I am likely to need to eat and decide when I will have fruit and when I will have sweets or a cereal bar, so that I am always having a little energy boost yet I also get the benefit and the tastiness of the fruit, while allowing myself some snacks. It really has made me hyper aware of the fact that, instead of being a couple left in the second packet of my favourite coffee accompaniment at the end of the week, there is a barely half eaten lone packet, which I am only responsible for eating perhaps one or two of. Over the course of an entire week, Had this been before lent, I would be almost through my second pack of them. And that isn’t even the only things I was eating with them.

The snacks themselves were fairly low in calories and I did try to only eat them before or after exercise so that I would burn up the sugar in them, but still, they were high enough. I’m quite into the whole, exercise, it makes you healthy, thing, so I keep a loose eye on the amount of sugary things I eat. So while I was already aware I was eating tonnes of biscuits and still to an extent am, it hasn’t really affected my weight all that much.

I am interested to see if Gillian has had any health benefits or not. I could be imagining it, but I also feel my skin is a lot better. My diet change made it a little worse to begin with but that cleared right up after a couple of weeks. I figure that was just my teenage body regulating itself after an adjustment. But eating no bad things at all, that must be having some serious effects. I for one know that if it were me doing that, I would probably starve half to death if I didn’t make some pretty speedy adjustments to my lifestyle. For sure I’ve noticed her lack of fizzy juice. She has been going through screeds of “juice boxes”, as she so Americanisedly calls them (the little cartons of fruit juice) Every day she will go through about four of them. At least that way she is getting some vitamins from the juice – the girl hates fruit so there goes one way to get you sugar fix without junk food. But she has adapted very well. She rarely, if ever, complains. The same cannot be said for me…

Resist...

But definitely, I am feeling good about the whole lent thing. I feel it has probably done my internal system some good, having that break from a stimulant.

It has made me look more closely at the things around me that are clearly surplus. I do not need coffee, I like coffee, but other than feeling quite tires for a few days, there were really no extreme side-effects. I can easily go without it. Gillian is still alive – point proved! You do not need all that crap to keep your system going. People have survived for thousands of years like this. When one food source runs out, you find another. When your shelter is damaged, you fix it. When something is stolen, you replace it and catch and punish the one that did it. When one survival methods stops working you find another. It is just the way people need to be to survive. Adaptation to your current environment. Finding your niche and claiming your territory and your role within the pack, often through displays of dominance and tests of ability. Darwinism at it’s best.

I kind of feel like that is the way this has gone. We have been made to appreciate what we have, yet also understand that we do not need it in our lives. We like them, but they are extra. They are thing that we are lucky to have and should not take for granted because they might be taken away without warning. Take chocolate for example. A wonderful thing, for sure, but the basic principle is that it functions as a food source, as it is edible. However, if you not-so-closely examine chocolate… it has very little nutritional value. It tastes incredible, but you would be hard pushed to live your life without extensive vitamin supplements if you tried to live off of it.

Hey… did I just learn the meaning of lent?…

Til next time, when I shall most likely be reporting on my experiences of lent overall and what I have gained from it. …