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Review: The Hunger Games, the Movie

I really need to come up with a standard review format for films. I have it for books. What do people put in movie reviews? The director? The actors? The rating? Well, here’s a pretty picture, then I’ll get on with it.

The book is always better than the movie. This saying, common among us reader-types, holds true for The Hunger Games. The book was very good and made an important, needed commentary on our society and how it regards youth. The film did a commendable job as an adaptation of the book, and, as just a movie, was excellent. With the months of hype leading up to the actual release, we had very high hopes. No movie could possibly live up to the expectations of the hard-core fans, so there was bound to be some disappointment. I was much less disappointed than I thought I was going to be.

For the most part, I agreed with the casting. Jennifer Lawrence, who fills the main role as Katniss Everdeen, is an extremely talented actress and conveyed Katniss perfectly. My only argument with Lawrence is her physical appearance: obviously older than the heroine’s supposed age of sixteen and lacking the malnourished edge fans of the book would expect. Josh Hutcherson portrays Peeta well, and Liam Hemsworth, though we hardly get to see him, is outstanding as Gale. The vast majority of the supporting actors are quite suited to their roles.

I felt that, up until the Hunger Games themselves started, the film was fast-paced to the point of rushed. We hardly got to meet the other tributes to the Games and got little sense of Katniss’s life back home in District Twelve. The movie gets the main points across, however: District Twelve is poor, the Capital is decadent and wealthy, there’s a range of ability among the Tributes, and the Capital somehow refuses to see how brutal the killing game is and is only entertained.

Once Katniss and Peeta are thrust into the arena with the twenty-two other teenage tributes, the action starts and hardly lets up. My heart hammered through the fighting, and it was hard to remind myself that I knew the outcome. The “Cave Scene,” somewhat infamous among fans, is one of the only lulls, and was handled masterfully by Lawrence and Hutcherson.

Overall, this is a film worth seeing even if you haven’t read the books. It might be slightly hard to get into if you’re not familiar with the story, though, so I do recommend reading at least Book One in advance.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Movies and TV

 

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Holding Off On “The Hunger Games”

March 23, the long-awaited release day of the much-hyped film adaptation of The Hunger Games, has come and gone. Midnight premieres have been attended, and many more fans have since seen the film. I’m a fan of the books and have been anticipating the movie, as well–I’ve jabbering about the upcoming release in real life and online for a while. But I haven’t seen the film yet, and I probably won’t for at least a week.

I do want to see it, but I’m not much for crowds and lines, and I figure I can somewhat avoid them by not going to the theater on the opening weekend. (That’s not the real reason I’m waiting. In reality, the person I promised to see it with is away for the weekend. But that’s a different story.) Of course, by waiting to see it, I run the risk of the film being spoiled by those who have.

It’s kind of hard to spoil a movie based on a book one has already read, though. Unless the script writers, who include The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, made some major changes to the plot, I know exactly what’s going to happen. At the same time, there’s something about seeing stills of a scene you wanted to witness in the theater or hearing exactly how an aspect was handled that detracts from the experience of anticipation.

Eventually I will see the film and there will be a belated review. Until then, I’m living like it’s March 22.

What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptations, and spoilage thereof?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Movies and TV

 

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Just in case you haven’t seen the HG trailer yet…(and other notes)

Other Notes

First off, the Teens Can Write, Too blog chain (which is co-hosted by yours truly) is currently scheduling participants for the December chain. If you’re a teen or are in your early twenties and have a blog, automatically making you a writer, you should check out the chain and get involved! You can get more information and sign up here.

Secondly, John Hansen is hosting a contest over on his blog, The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer, in celebration of his 50th follower (congrats, John!). This little contest has already collected its entries–six-sentence stories from his readers–and is now in the voting stage. There are some great stories to be picked over and voted on, and it’ll only take a few minutes, so why not head over and take a look here? (Psst…vote for mine. Except I can’t tell you which one is mine, as they’re all anonymous. Oh…just vote.)

 
 

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The Best Reads of 2010

I hope everyone’s holidays have gone smoothly so far, with no toppling Christmas trees, blizzards causing power outages in the middle of a party, the turkey or ham being eaten by the dog, or other mishaps. My holidays have been nice and quiet, and so has this blog. It’s always a trial to remember that poor little blog huddled in the corner during the holidays, but fear not! An exciting new post is on the way.

Since the year 2010 is soon coming to a close, I’ve been thinking back on the year in books. The bestselling children’s author Rick Riordan came out with not one, but TWO new books, starting two new series, this year: The Red Pyramid of the Kane Chronicles, and The Lost Hero of the Heroes of Olympus series. YA superstar series The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins came to an end back in August with Mockingjay‘s release. The film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  by J.K. Rowling (part one) came out in November and was a box office hit. Newcomer series The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore started out with I Am Number Four and made quite a splash, with a movie by Dreamworks already set to come out. Well-known author Cornelia Funke (the Inkworld Trilogy) published Reckless, the start of a series of the same name. The list of book news goes on. It was a good year for bookworms, to say the least. I know I had a great year in reading.

Keeping up with new YA literature seems harder than it’s ever been. I now sympathize with longtime book bloggers who complain that their To-Be-Read stacks are getting out of hand. The more I pay attention to the world of books, the more I realize I have to read. The handy bookish publication BookPage is great for getting the scoop on  new books– it’s available for free in libraries. I’ve caught wind of countless YA reads I have to get my hands on through them. Book blogs are an ever-helpful source of tips on the good stuff. So many books from my 2010 TBR stack will have to carry over into 2011: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Nevermore by Kelly Creagh, and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, just to name a few.

However, I did get to read lots of fantastic books this year, both new releases and older ones I somehow missed. I’m grateful that the hand of Fate guided my hand to the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce this year. Those books had been sitting,  quite unassuming, on the library shelf for years, and trip after trip I ignored them. Now, Books One and Two have joined the ranks of my all-time favorite books, and I eagerly await a Book Three.

Among the new releases I wish I’d missed is I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. I honestly can’t say what all of the fuss is about. On the other hand, Reckless by Cornelia Funke was totally worth the hype. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins was suitably dramatic but full of doom and gloom.

What about you, fellow bookworms? What were your top picks of 2010? I wish you a happy New Year in books!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2010 in Book Rambles

 

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Bread and Circuses

Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pub. Date: August 2010

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

Genre: Science Fiction

Age Range: Young Adult

Synopsis/Teaser: Katniss Everdeen has survived two rounds of the Capitol of Panem’s deadly Hunger Games, and is now safely in District Thirteen, the mysterious heart of the rebellion against the Capitol. Her family and a few of her friends who survived the bombing of her home district, Twelve, are safe as well. But Katniss’s fellow Hunger Games tribute and half-real, half-pretend lover Peeta is in the Capitol’s hands. Katniss must learn to swallow the horrors of her past and her emotional ties in order to lead the rebels to victory and act as their Mockingjay.

Review: I’m probably one of the last fans of The Hunger Games trilogy to read Mockingjay. I put it off until now for two reasons: 1) I’m too cheap to buy the hardcover, and it didn’t show up in my local library until now, and 2) I was rather afraid of the ending. Given the series’ history of being “realistic” in the killing off of characters, I was nervous who we were going to lose in the end. It was worse than I imagined. We lost our Katniss from the very first chapter– figuratively, anyway.

The fearless, spunky, acerbic, and honest narrator I’d grown to love over the course of the series was missing from the first line of Mockingjay, to be replaced with an uncertain, confused, suspicious, and rather nasty girl that I didn’t quite recognize. If Suzanne Collins meant that Peeta being in the hands of the Capitol and District Twelve really destroyed her protagonist, she did it effectively– sacrificing, however, readers’ adoration for Katniss herself.

I found the doom and gloom of this book to be utterly too much. It was depressing, frankly. I won’t go in to detail– this is a spoiler-free zone!– but I’ll assure you that anyone with deep attachments to all the good guys will be positively devastated. I was. I really think Collins could have done better to lighten up a bit. But, when you get to the core of the matter, the truth is that this is a hard, jarring, dystopia novel, not some beach read.

One very intriguing aspect of this novel was the “Bread and Circuses” concept. Panem et Circenses is the Latin term referring to the system of providing commodities and entertainment to a ruler, city, or other prominent entity in order to keep the peace. Finally, the connection between Ancient Rome and Panem comes to light! Panem is Latin for “bread,” something your resident classics geek is ashamed that she didn’t notice earlier. Quite a few of the names of Hunger Games characters are Latin– Cinna, Octavia, Castor and Pollux– so it makes sense the Panem is a rather Rome-like society. I suppose the Hunger Games are akin the gladiator fighting, and the Districts of Panem provide the Capitol with all that it needs.

Mockingjay is a gripping, fast-paced whirlwind of a novel. Its high level of death and destruction isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a worthy ending to the Hunger Games trilogy.

Recommended for: Fans of futuristic dystopias who can stand the murder and mayhem. It’s pretty essential to read the rest of the trilogy before delving into Mockingjay.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 possible stars.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

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Suzanne Collins paints a startling picture of the future

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Copyright 2008, Scholastic Press

374 pages, YA sci-fi

Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister in District 12, a portion of Panem, a country that stands in a place once called North America. The cruel Capital forces the districts to send one boy and one girl to compete in the survival competition called the Hunger Games. Katniss voluntarily takes her sister’s place in the Games, knowing that, whether she lives or dies, her life will be changed forever.

I can’t believe I didn’t read this book earlier. It has been sitting on the shelf in the young adult section in my little local library for a while, probably since it was first released, and I’ve just breezed right over it. Haven’t given it a second glance. I found it because it’s sequel, Catching Fire, was prominently displayed on the “New Releases Shelf.” I spoiled the story for myself, though: I read the inside flap of Catching Fire, which contained a major spoiler for The Hunger Games. This drawback didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story, however.

This book is extremely exciting, but also jarring, startling, unsettling, disturbing…the list of those sorts of descriptive words could go on forever. But, funnily enough, they aren’t necessarily used in a bad way. I know this is a science fiction novel, but Panem kind of makes sense. It, or something like it, could be the way we’re heading with the future. Don’t get me wrong, though– I sincerely hope we don’t.

There’s good character development, although Collins sometimes seems to overlook the “show, don’t tell” rule of descriptive writing. The numerous plot twists keep readers on the edge of their seats. I think that the story being told in present tense first person is a nice touch.It really makes you feel as if you’re inside Katniss’s head at the exact moment of action.

The story was a bit too solemn for my liking. Too much doom and gloom isn’t my style. But, it was good enough for me to rush back to the library to pick up the second book. (A review is coming soon for that, by the way.) And that’s some of the highest praise (at least in the suspense division) that a book can get.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2009 in Book Reviews

 

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