Wednesday, 25 April 2012
CINEMA: THE HUNGER GAMES
And that's all you need to know really, but...
Trying to be as objective as I can without relating it to the book, this is a very good, very well made Science Fiction movie. And don't let anyone tell you different. There's only one problem with it really and that's when Jennifer Laurence is onscreen (which is almost all the time) it's difficult to look at anyone else. She conveys the intensity of the character of Katniss Everdene to perfection and puts everyone else, even actors like Woody Harrelson and John Turturro in the shade. It also doesn't help that the two young male actors who play important parts in her life are charisma free zones. This is Jennifer Laurence's movie and she is just an enormous talent.
The film itself is well-paced. The design of the futuristic settings are imaginative and follow the book very well. The contrasts between the often grotesque inhabitants of the Capitol and Katniss's subsistence level home are well visualised.
There really is nothing significantly wrong with the film. Except when you compare it to the book and having read it so recently I couldn't separate one from the other. Objectively it's a good and relatively faithful adaptation which hews closely to the spirit of the book. But the devil is in the details. In the book we know exactly what Katniss is thinking because she's the narrator. This doesn't happen in the film so we miss the ambivalence of her feelings towards Peeta, the young male lead and much else besides. Her past, explored in detail in the book, is shown by brief flashbacks in the film. The violence is very much toned down in order to get the rating the studio required and the UK version was still trimmed by a few seconds and electronic fudging applied to some brief images. Sometimes it changes a scene's intent as in the death of Rue. In the book, Rue is dangling in a net and an another contestant throws a spear through her. Katniss deliberately kills him. In the film, Katniss has freed Rue but fires the arrow instinctively when she sees the other contestant at the same time as he throws the spear. In other words, for the sake of the young audience, Katniss is not shown to be consciously causing a death but reacting instinctively. Also one key scene is added which reveals the result outside the Games of what Katniss does next.
I could go on but I won't. If you haven't read the book, go and see the film, you'll enjoy it. If you have, expect some disappointments.
This is nothing to do with the film per se but an experience I had in the cinema forced me to reconsider a certain attitude I hold. I do have a hearing aid but, as I consider myself on slightly suffering from deafness I only wear it on occasion. (Actually I have two, one for each ear.) I didn't wear them to either this film or The Cabin in the Woods last week. On both occasions I had to strain to follow the dialogue and wasn't always successful either. I had assumed that the sheer volume would compensate for my inability to properly hear certain pitches. I often don't hear the beginning of a word thereby missing out on the context which would enable me to guess the word being spoken.
These two trips to the cinema have forced me to acknowledge that I am more seriously deaf than I like to admit and that I should wear my hearing aids whenever it is practical. In other words except when I'm involved with water, wearing headphones, or asleep. I can't pretend to myself any more about the relative severity of my hearing loss.