I finally got to watch the Hunger Games movie this morning1. These past days, friends have been posting their own mini-reviews of the movie online, especially those who claimed to have read the book before everyone knew of its existence. Most of them say it's good.
—Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen? The best move in making this film. She's perfect, almost like what I had imagined her to be when I only had the books. Even her voice is perfect: not too shrill, not too low either. It would have been wrong to pick someone else to play her part.
—Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne) are great in their roles, too. Peeta really looks like a baker's son and Liam like a true hunter. Katniss will have a hard time choosing between them.
—The cinematography is crazy, but in a beautiful kind of way. Some scenes can trigger vertigo, as a friend forewarned me, because the camera gets wobbly and the world is spinning to simulate a reality-TV experience. It's best to not sit too close to the screen.
—The scene of the Reaping is one of my favorites. There we see Katniss volunteering to join the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. The movie shows the scene as it would happen in real life, without any other unnecessary fanfare or dramatic effects. The small yet powerful moments in that episode: Primrose adjusting her dress as she was walking towards the stage, and Katniss' face displaying courage, fear and uncertainty.
—The Reaping shows someone giving her life to another. It's a classic theme—vicarious death and suffering—that's particularly dear to my heart. Didn't Jesus also volunteer to die on that wooden cross for my sins? 1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."
—The Capitol looks stunning, like the photos I see of Pyongyang but only more colorful.
—There isn't enough bloodshed—maybe we'll see more of that in the next Hunger Games movie—just enough to make the viewers realize the show is about people killing each other. The actors hardly look dirty and smelly, but maybe it won't look as good on camera if that were the case.
—How the movie is adapted from the book is an achievement in itself. In a few scenes, we already understand the historical, political climate in Panem, the first encounter of Katniss and Peeta, among other crucial points necessary to enjoy the film. Bravo to the writers.
—I like this film because the story is likable. The cinematography, music, and constumes are great, too, but those are secondary considerations. It's the story that has made this film worthwhile. Suzanne Collins has weaved an extraordinary tale (although perhaps not an original one, as some Battle Royale diehard fans claim). So encourage your kids to read the books2, aside from watching the film. The tale will show them that life is hard, but that even the young can take on responsibilities to care for their loved ones.
1. I said I'd only be watching the Hunger Games as soon as the fever dies down, when the movie houses aren't filled to bursting with noisy teenagers debating who Katniss should be with in the end—Gale, her childhood friend and hunting buddy, or Peeta, a decent, kindhearted boy she had met before. Of course, I love overhearing conversations about books—at least I know kids are still reading, though there aren't too many of them—but I don't want to be bothered by a noisy crowd inside the cinema.
After the otorhinolaryngology final exam, I headed to the mall to catch the earliest screening. I was surprised because Leeca Caro said she'd like to join me. She had been meaning to watch it again.
"Are you sure you want to do this—watch a movie this early?" I asked her.
"I do it all the time," she said, enumerating the perks of watching movies before lunch: there aren't many people, you hardly bump into anyone you know, and you get the best seats.
"But we still have two exams tomorrow, you know?"
"I'll start studying after my afternoon nap," Leeca said.
We bumped into Bryan Mesina and Carlos Cuano, who got dragged with us. We bought tickets for the 11 am screening. So there we were were, in uniform, the only ones inside the huge, dark cinema, save for the man ten rows behind us who was coughing a lot.↩
2. Mini-review of the Hunger Games book: Give this to your kid or nephew or niece to start the love of reading. In a different world in a different time, twelve children are chosen to fight in the Hunger Games—and the game only ends when all the other children are killed and only one is left. The story may look simple, but it asks some very hard questions: what if one of the children was your friend? Would you kill him to survive?↩