Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hunger Games

Well. Wow. I got to see it tonight. Lionsgate has been holding previews this week and tonight was the first of 2 Scholastic previews.

It's too late to start in on a proper review, but I will repeat something I'd put up on Facebook. It goes off on a bit of a tangent, but I was responding both to queries from friends who wanted to know what I thought, and then to a very specific comment from Dan Kim, who really enjoyed the trilogy and was concerned (as are many who liked the books) about whether the transition to the screen was a good one, saying "Have fun...let us know what you think of how well executed the movie is... so many movies don't live up to the books they're based on. :-D "

My response:
The movie was excellent. First thing I said to my friendDiane (who joined me tonight and kindly offered tissues at appropriate moments) as the credits began to roll was "I don't think I've ever been quite so exhausted at the end of a movie". Thinking back now, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, one of my all time favorite movies & the one I probably saw the most times while it was in theaters, may have been close. But this was an excellent movie.

I don't know if you knew this, but the odds were "ever" more in favor of The Hunger Games making a good transition to the screen than most. You see, Suzanne Collins was a professional screenwriter long before she began writing for Scholastic. She gave a great talk at Scholastic a few years ago, and it was fun listening to her talk about how it was making the transition from screenwriter to novelist. She said the hardest thing was learning to write description - in the movies, what things and people end up looking like is the job of the designers of sets, props, and costumes; a novelist holds the responsibilty for creating the entire world of the story - all of the people, and also all of the sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes of that place. She honed that skill in her Gregor books (which I'm ashamed to say I've never read, must get my hands on Gregor the Overlander one of these days & see how I like it). Storytelling through dialogue, she already knew.

So with The Hunger Games, you have a professional screenwriter writing a highly cinematic novel, and then handling the screenwriting for the movie.

Worked wonderfully!

BTW, I know that there's a lot of discussion out there of the appropriateness of both the books and this new movie for young people - the basic plot description does sound pretty awful, and if I can ever organize my thoughts enough I do hope to produce some sort of post about why I was so taken by them (I don't know if I'll be able to dignify it with the title of "review", but I'd like to give it a shot -- but for now, well, the one I went to tonight was one of a number of previews that were going on this week. Professional film critic and actual, real-live mom Thelma Adams attended one on Monday night, and I really liked what she had to say over on The Reel Breakdown.

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