Midnight Hunger Games: #slice2012

I’d promise not to have any spoilers, but probably 95% of you have read The Hunger Games already.

If you haven’t, please don’t read any more.

Seriously.

And if you do, don’t blame me. I told you so.

Let me begin with this morning at school.

I was one of just a handful of people who went to see the midnight show of The Hunger Games last night. (Three students went to a different theater than I did – they were all in school today, too. Have to say I’m impressed with that!) With that in mind, I wasn’t surprised to hear everyone asking what I thought – from teachers to my students to students I don’t even know.

Here’s some of what I shared in various conversations over the course of the day:

I can’t remember ever seeing a movie that had my heart pounding for most of it.

I don’t ever remember shaking like I did during the Games footage for any other movie.

I think I cried longer when I saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but I cried harder when Rue died.

I don’t think I would want to see it on an IMAX screen – the jumpy footage was enough from the third row seat I had, but I suspect it would make me sick on a bigger screen.

I didn’t think I would appreciate the jumpy footage (something my husband warned me about – and he only knew because I think he read every review published yesterday), but I think it made sense for this film. The violence of the Games is there – it’s not glorified, it’s not gratuitous, and it’s not clear footage, meaning that it has much in common with the book. Our imaginations probably make it ten thousand times worse. It reminded me of what wasn’t shown in the old Hitchcock films being far scarier than trying to come up with witty special effects.

There were not so many costumed souls as there were for the Harry Potter midnight shows, but the audience was just as engrossed as they were at Harry Potter shows. When the words appeared on the screen opening the movie with some backstory, the whole audience clapped. I have been to movies where the audience is filled with chatterers, but we were all so riveted that the full theater was silent save for gasps, giggles (Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch were perfect for their parts – and added some much needed comic relief at points), cheers, and cries. (I was definitely not the only one who was bawling at Rue’s death scene.)

There are changes. I will be honest there, but they make sense for the film. As it is, the movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes. I suspect that many of the changes were made to keep the movie to a reasonable length. For instance, there isn’t a lot of development of the relationship between Gale and Katniss at the beginning of the movie – but they compensate during the kiss scenes during the Games by flipping back to Gale’s reaction when he sees it on the telecast. Speaking of the time where Katniss and Peeta are together during the Games, it’s shorter – but I don’t think anything is really lost.  The training seemed shorter, but the most important bits are there.

What I was most intrigued by was the addition of scenes that were not in the book. Seeing the behind the scenes conversations between Seneca and President Snow, seeing the control room for the Games and seeing how Seneca directs what happens and why, and the conversations and reactions Haymitch has during the Games added a whole different view of the whole thing. Seeing the citizens of District 11 and District 12 watching the footage was unsettling – and it also gives us a chance to see what effect Katniss is having on the people there as it happens. Seeing that just makes the scenes where we see the Capitol dwellers enjoying the Games that much more unsettling.

I’m still surprised at how much of the movie looked like how I’d imagined it. From casting to props to Capitol Couture and the settings. Peeta and Katniss, Haymitch and Effie, Rue and Cato, Snow and

The only thing that really didn’t look the way I had imagined it was after the jacker trackers attacked Glimmer. Thankfully she didn’t look like the oozing, bloated, horrible corpse that she did in the novel. And nothing disintegrated when Katniss took the bow and arrows from her. I’m grateful. So is the guy in front of me who didn’t get puked on.

All in all, my heart was still pounding the whole 45 minute drive home and I had trouble falling asleep when I did crawl into bed at 3:30 this morning. (For the record, I not only powered through my day on 2.5 hours of sleep, but I managed to do some serious damage on my to-do list. If I wasn’t trying to do this post before I ran out of enough mental steam, I would be cleaning my house and grading…) No nightmares, but I couldn’t wind down from the whole experience.

I remember feeling that way after I finished the book in the wee hours of the morning.

There’s something about good story-telling, no matter the medium, that does that to you.

If you went, I’m curious to hear what you thought of it.

And if you are about to post a complaint about ruining it for everyone else, before you do, just remember you were warned…

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20 thoughts on “Midnight Hunger Games: #slice2012

  1. I loved the movie as well!
    Two parts made me cry: (1) I cried when Katniss volunteered for Prim, and Gale had to carry Prim away screaming. Heart-wrenching. (2) I cried during the Rue scene. It was so intense with Katniss’ emotions then the scene in the district. I think the addition of that scene is a perfect set up for the next movies.
    I thought Haymitch was waaaay too sober and nice! Lol. However, I agree that the scenes with him in the Capitol during the games were awesome additions. Also, I loved his notes to Katniss in the sponsor gifts.
    One thing that is still nagging at me is the fact that I didn’t feel CONVINCED that Katniss and Peeta were “in love.” I leaned over to my husband and said, “There isn’t enough kissing!” which seems silly, but the cave scene in the book was the point where Katniss realized she really had to play into the “star-crossed lovers” thing, and I didn’t get that from the movie. I believed it from his side, but not from her.
    Effie was great. Cinna was great. Loved how cocky Cato was. I thought the scenes with President Snow and Seneca were such insightful additions.
    I can’t wait to see it again!!

    • I did find it hard to watch them take Prim away both at the Reaping and also when they said goodbye.

      I think they are really set up for the next film. I wonder how long we have to wait for that one…

    • Goodness. I didn’t see the scroll bar.
      I thought that Haymitch was far more sober than he was in the book, too.
      I agree – they didn’t seem to be too much in love. But that scene where they are putting the medicine on each other seemed to be about as romantic as it got. Meh.
      Hubby didn’t seem to see a problem with the fact that Katniss and Peeta didn’t seem to be so in love. We talked about it on the way home – both of us were thinking about the part in Speed where they talk about how relationships begun during stressful times don’t really work out. Hubs thought that they could just plead that argument and get out of it all. Uhhhh…I don’t think so. But he only read Hunger Games so far.

  2. I’m so glad this was such a powerful experience. What you are saying is what most reviewers I’ve heard have said. Now I’m even more excited to see the film myself. My heart was pounding when I read the book; I’m happy that will be the experience with the movie.

    Rest tonight!

    • I’m so glad, too. Honestly, I was a bit nervous about going to see it…but the excitement won out and we had to get tickets. So glad we did.

    • Make sure you get there early enough. Hubby was saying that there seemed to be fewer cars in the parking lot than when we saw HP so I wasn’t in a big rush to go sit down and instead stood in the lobby talking to a friend. Big mistake. We walked in around 11:30 and the place was FULL.

  3. Saw the movie today with my students and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I, too, loved the look of the film, the costumes, and the casting was perfect. Next . . . . Catching Fire!!!

    • My kids will be jealous if they know you took a field trip to see a movie. My freshbabies wanted to do this and we didn’t.
      So what did the kids think?

  4. First, I want to say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not watched a single trailer, I’d only glossed through all of the magazines, and I hadn’t read any reviews or anything about the movie- so, I was not prepared for how much I was going to like it and how much the emotions I felt in the book would come streaming back.

    So, my thoughts (positive and negative):
    1) The part where I cried the most in the book was taken out of the movie and that really upset me (bread). It would not have taken much time and shows the power of Katniss and the backing of District 11.
    2) Man- that reaping was intense! I think it hurt me more during the movie than it did in the book. And yes, cried and cried.
    3) Rue :(
    4) I actually disagree with Jennifer (*gasp*) I think the amount of “love” they put in the movie was perfect. They compensated with the cut scene to Gale and I LOVE that the love triangle isn’t the focus- Katniss is.
    5) Why didn’t the dogs have the dead tribute’s faces?
    6) The mockingjay pin part was all wrong…

    So, overall, loved it! I think one of the best movie adaptations I’ve ever seen- right up there with “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Harry Potter”.

    • I actually left the pin part out of my post – but I did mention it several times today. (Mostly when people commented on my Mockinjay pin.)
      I think the dogs not having their faces/eyes was more a function of it being too difficult to do in a way that people who hadn’t read the books would get it.
      Yeah…I noticed that much of the sponsor gifts were left out. The one from District 11 should have been there.
      I know Katniss was the focus – more than the love triangle, but I felt bad for Peeta – she seemed in the movie and the book to just seem him as a strategy to get home…or to get them both home.

    • I think I understand why they changed the pin. That character wouldn’t have really added much to the impact of the movie, and it was already as long as it needed to be. Switching the pin to Prim kept the emphasis on the sibling relationship.

      I was also sad they didn’t include the bread from District 11. Again, that would have been a super quick thing to put in. But I’m so glad they kept the flowers strewn over Rue. That scene was so powerful.

      I also agree with the amount of ‘love’ in the film. This first book wasn’t really about that – at least not from Katniss’ perspective. Yes, Gale is in love with HER (and I think they made that clear), but Katniss spends most of the first book trying to figure out how to get them home – and doesn’t really figure out that she has feelings for both boys until near the end. And then she just wants to STOP being used.

      I also agree with the statement that the mutts would have been difficult to explain the way they were in the book. I’d be curious to hear how people who HADN’T read the book felt about the movie. I saw at least one person on my Twitter feed complaining about that. She hadn’t read the book and found the movie confusing. From my perspective, it seemed like it wouldn’t be hard to follow – but I’d just recently reread the book too.

  5. Agree! I loved the movie, understood the need for some of the changes, and loved the way the addition of some of the scenes with Snow, Seneca, and Flickerman gave the viewer some of the necessary details to fill out the story line. Brilliantly done!

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