The Hunger Games is no Twilight: Thank God!

Posted by Tina on Friday Mar 23, 2012 Under ShowBiz

At the outset, let me say I didn’t love it. But I really, really liked it. Gary Ross’ film adaptation of the Hunger Games has undoubtedly done justice to the bestselling cult books and doesn’t leave fans (like me!) disappointed. The screenplay stays true to the novel and the core characters are pretty much as you would have imagined them. Although I must admit Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne is far hotter (sizzzzzling in fact) than what Suzanne Collins had perhaps envisioned. And as a result, I almost defected from Team Peeta. Almost, but not quite because Josh Hutcherson does such a convincing job as the endearing Peeta Mellark that you can’t help but root for him by the end. There is no question, however, that the movie belongs to Jennifer Lawrence. She is an absolute superstar in the making. She carries the film on her shoulders just as effortlessly as Katniss Everdeen wields her bow and quiver.

There are more in the ensemble cast who shine, despite short screen time. Among them, a delightful Woody Harrelson as the acerbic alcoholic Haymitch, Donald Sutherland as the sinister President Snow and even Stanley Tucci as the mildly irritating, overenthusiastic game show host Caesar Flickerman (Ryan Seacrest anyone?) But unfortunately the medium is such that some of the other absorbing characters are left half-baked, foremost among them Katniss’ stylist Cinna – what a criminal waste of Lenny Kravitz. The other thing that left me a little under-whelmed was the pace. I felt it dragged in parts. Maybe because after months of eagerly waiting (yes, literally with bated breath) for the release, I had expected to be as gob smacked and spellbound as I was when I read the book. Is that why we always feel that no movie does justice to the book – because those of us who have read the book already know what is about to happen? (‘The Shining’ happens to be the only exception to this rule, and I say that even though I am a die-hard Stephen King fan. Seriously, Jack Nicholson steered that film into a realm even the book hadn’t dared enter.) But I digress.

I can bet my boots those who haven’t read the book – like my husband who accompanied me for instance – would love it. It wasn’t the standard slick, thrill-a-minute fare that is usually dished out for young-adult audiences. But I can’t decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Because that very treatment also made it credible and authentic. It’s not easy to translate a 300-page bestseller into a 140-odd minute film but The Hunger Games does emerge triumphant on that front. The setting is established cleverly and quickly and the dark, tense pulse of the book – befitting for a ‘fight unto death’ drama – is captured successfully. That’s a whole lot more than what I could say for the insipid Twilight saga. The Hunger Games is far more mature, even if at the cost of pace, and its appeal is universal, regardless of gender or even age. At least those stupid comparisons with Twilight will now end. The sodden, mushy love story with a poofter of a vampire for a male lead can remain in the galaxy of pre-pubescent girls, where it belongs.

Yes, I may have expected more gut-wrenching action and yes, I had certainly hoped for some steamy scenes between Peeta and Katniss (especially in the cave) but I guess that stuff is sacrificed at the PG13 altar. Fair enough. On the whole, the movie delivers and despite not having gone ape over it, I can’t wait for the next one. I guess that means job well done, right?

PS: For my original post on what the actual story is about, you can click here.

Tags : , , , , , , | add comments

The most awaited movie of 2012?

Posted by Tina on Sunday Jan 1, 2012 Under Books, Current Affairs, ShowBiz

It is not everyday that I become so obsessed with a work of fiction that I lie awake into the wee hours of the morning, trying to envision just how I would picturise it, had I been directing its movie adaptation. Alright, I’m weird, but put it down to a professional hazard where I’ve worked with multiple cameras and their infinite angles for over ten years now. And even then, I know what we have in television is child’s play compared to what is employed and can be achieved in movies. In TV the most complex camera set-up I have worked with is four cameras, five maybe including a Jimmy Jib. Sigh. The very thought of working with as many as twenty cameras for a single shot makes me quake with inspiration.

Which is why I just cannot let go of the imagery that The Hunger Games trilogy has embedded in my mind. Alright, go ahead and laugh. (Yeah, I know it’s meant to be young adult fiction but thankfully my favourite author of all time, Stephen King has quelled my inhibitions on that front, as he considers ‘young adult novel’ a dumbbell term that he puts right up there with ‘jumbo shrimp’ and ‘airline food’ in the oxymoron sweepstakes… Ha ha! Could anyone put it better?) Anyway, so young adult or not, thanks to my insatiable appetite for popular fiction, I do read whatever is taking the world by storm; be it the soppy, mushy Twilight series to the riveting and brilliant Millenium Trilogy to my latest obsession: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Some of you, family and friends, will groan because you’ve already heard me go on too much about this trilogy. So I’ll keep it short.

It is brilliant. It is evocative and it is thought-provoking in a way I never imagined ‘young adult fiction’ could be. Set several hundred years in the future, it is staged in the nightmarish country of Panem, where the annual highlight is a reality TV show called the Hunger Games, in which teenagers fight each other to the death. The concept might make your stomach turn, but believe me, the treatment won’t. Because author Suzanne Collins has woven the fabric of that world so intricately that one almost begins to view the Hunger Games as par for the course, just like the audience in Panem would. And the protagonists, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are so finely etched that one cannot help but feel emotionally engaged with them. And therein lies the secret to a great work of fiction, doesn’t it? Collins’ Katniss Everdeen is even more kick-ass than Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander – believe me – because she is simply more believable. And as for the baker’s son, Peeta Mellark, well I’d like him for breakfast any day.

The trilogy moves from the adrenaline-fuelled adventurous first novel, The Hunger Games, to the somewhat sluggish second one, Catching Fire, (which I must admit seems not much more than a means to bridge the first with the utterly brilliant third) to the concluding volume, Mockingjay. It is in this intelligent, complex and unsettling third book that one can truly appreciate the allegorical quality of the entire story; one that asks questions we are all too afraid to ask.

The likes of Entertainment Weekly and MTV have listed The Hunger Games – starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth – as the most anticipated movie of 2012. Gosh, I hope it does justice to Suzanne Collins’ book. Can’t wait for 23rd March.

Tags : , , , , , , , , , | add comments