Hunger Games Movie Review with No Spoilers

March 25, 2012

Hunger Games Katniss Reaping

I’m not an early adopter so it’s not surprising that I didn’t jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon until 5 days prior to the movie’s release. Thankfully, it’s a quick read so I was finished with the book in under 6 hours and ready to see it come to life on the screen on Friday.

To be sure, people who read a book before the movie comes out are a huge critic of the film. But people who read the book, can’t put it down and LOVE it are the biggest critics of all. That would be me. And bunches of other people.

First, let’s talk about all of the things done right in the Hunger Games movie. There are a lot.

  • The movie is extremely faithful to the book; some of the dialogue is verbatim and with very few exceptions, the plot follows the book precisely.
  • I found it much easier to sympathize with and understand Haymitch in the film. You get a pretty clear sense that he became an alcoholic and sarcastically nasty because he’s lost every pair of Tributes he’s ever worked with. He’s built up a wall of liquor and surliness to protect himself from getting too attached to these kids. I liked that we got to see his behind the scenes efforts to get sponsors and help for Katniss and Peeta.
  • The creativity behind the presentation of the Gamemakers’ control room was incredible. It was a futuristic, sci-fi-NASA hotbed of brilliantly twisted manipulators. It was a little hard to imagine how the Gamemakers worked their evil madness in the book, but it really came to life on the screen.
Hunger Games Katniss Interview
  • The movie kept my attention, and the 2-1/2 hours flew by. The pace was fast, the action was relentless, and the tension was high for much of the film, as it should have been.
  • The performances and casting choices were all on target: Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Effie, President Snow, Seneca and Caesar were all perfect. Rue couldn’t have been more precious and precocious. But I would have liked even more Cinna!

Hunger Games Rue

  • The makeup and special effects were well done, the cinematography was beautiful, and the depiction of the Capitol was fascinating. We saw how horrendous life was in the Districts, and how ridiculously extravagant life was in the Capitol.
  • The costumes were perfection. The District attire was muted depressed grays and blues, while Capitol garb was over the top in the craziest way imaginable. Effie’s matching makeup, nails and clothing were very creepy Alice-In-Wonderland-ish. And the flaming costumes Peeta and Katniss wore into the Games were stunning.
Hunger Games Katniss Effie

I do have some criticisms though, and once again, as a book-lover I’m uber-sensitive to things that a non-book-reader would probably not even notice.

  • I think they would notice the camera gimmicks though. I found the shaky camera work to be very distracting and it actually made my eyes hurt. I can see that the gimmicks make sense in some scenes, showing the frenzy of the moment, as in the Tracker Jacker attack. But for me they were generally annoying, and detracted from my theater experience overall.
Hunger Games Fire Costumes
  • My biggest complaint is that the edge was taken off the story; I suppose to maintain the PG-13 rating and to allow kids to see the film since it started out as a teen book. In my opinion, anyone younger than 13 or 14 shouldn’t read the book anyway, much less see the movie because of the violent subject matter. An R rating would have been easy to achieve, but I think the raw quality of the story could have been maintained without heading into R territory.

We didn’t get a sense of how truly brutal the Games were, how beaten up the Tributes were, how intense the final cornucopia arena scene was, how tender the cave scenes were, or how heartbreaking the final train scene was. I think the key themes of the book were a little glossed over, and that the director was afraid to “go there”. We didn’t see the main characters starving, freezing cold, burning hot, panic-stricken and near death.

Hunger Games Katniss Bow

For example, when Katniss suffered a serious knife wound to the head, it barely bled. In the real world, a head cut will bleed profusely, and hers didn’t even dribble into her eyebrow. I once had a cut over my eyebrow, and even my shoes were ruined from the amount of blood that I lost. I think this kind of missed detail just detracted from the realism of the story.

And call me gruesome, but I really wanted to see the haunted human eyes of the Muttations, and a little more detail in the Tracker Jackers.

  • The characters weren’t developed deeply enough for me, other than Haymitch. I don’t think we saw just how good Peeta was or how tough and distrustful Katniss was, or how much disdain she had for the angle of the star-crossed lovers. I know we don’t have the benefit of knowing Katniss’ thoughts as we did in first-person print, but I think we could have been shown more of who they were without that and without adding a lot of scenes to the already lengthy running time.
Hunger Games Katniss Tube
  • One personal little nitpick: I imagined that music would be featured as a beautiful, magical and stark contrast to a ruthlessly brutal environment. In the book, music was a continuing theme: with Katniss’ father, with Prim and Katniss, and in Rue’s love of music and how the Mockingjays played into that. I think that highlighting that theme more prominently would have been stunning. Perhaps it will be in one of the future movies?
  • And one last minor note, Gale seemed way too clean and fancy among the dirty downtrodden swarm of District folks. Where’d he get that nice haircut?

Overall, I would give the film a score of a “B+”. If the camera hadn’t been so irritating, and if the highs were a bit higher and the lows a touch lower, I would definitely give it an “A”.

In spite of my criticisms, I actually did love the movie, and would see it again. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books and seeing the other movies when they come out. To anyone older than 12, I highly recommend reading these books!

 * All photos are the property of LionsGate Films.

~BigSis

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Eat Pray Love Movie

July 31, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Bunches of us read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat Pray Love” when it came out, including LilSis and I. We both loved the book, and I think LilSis even read it twice.  I was a little on guard about some of the new age aspects in parts of the book, but they didn’t taint the rest of it for me.

Now, a movie based on the book is coming out in about 2 weeks on August 13th. You know how you have a mental picture of a book’s characters as you’re reading it? Well, I absolutely did not imagine Julia Roberts as the lead character in this great book. I’m actually not even planning to go see the movie because I think the casting might just ruin the whole film for me. I’m not hating on Julia; I think she was entertaining in “Pretty Woman”, but I don’t think she has the depth and the soul that this role calls for.

Eat Pray Love Movie

Am I being overly-skeptical, or do you agree with me?  Who would be a better choice for the lead role in this movie? It could be so GOOD with the right actress!  Who would you choose?

~BigSis

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Grammys Red Carpet

February 1, 2010

Did you watch the Grammy Awards last night?  I’m a big fan of Pink, so her performance blew me away, as usual!  It also made me want to run for the gym!  Can you imagine being in front of all those people in that *outfit*?  Wow!

I like watching awards shows, but the Red Carpet is my favorite part by far.  Here are some photos from the Grammys Red Carpet 2010.  As you might imagine, it was not a boring evening!

Adam-Lambert

Adam Lambert

Beyonce

Beyonce

Blackeyed Peas

Blackeyed Peas

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood

Heidi Klum and Seal

Heidi Klum and Seal

Keri Hilson

Keri Hilson

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lea Michele

Lea Michele

Mary J Blige

Mary J Blige

Pink

Pink

~BigSis

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Julie and Julia

September 4, 2009

I don’t see a lot of movies at the movie theater and most of the time, I don’t even see them when they first come out on DVD. I’ll usually end up seeing a movie a couple of years after it was first released. But, I’ve wanted to see Julie and Julia ever since I first heard about it, so one of my good friends and I finally managed to squeeze in a night last week for the two of us to go see the movie.

There is no doubt that Meryl Streep is absolutely amazing as Julia Child, Stanley Tucci was wonderful as her husband, Paul Child, and together they were brilliant. Streep doesn’t just play Julia Child, you actually begin to believe that she is Julia Child!

The movie has great moments that will make you burst out into laughter and moments that will instantly bring tears to your eyes. The movie really manages to portray how much in love Julia and Paul were with each other.

Julia and Paul

I love when Julia says to Paul, “I need something to doooooo.” After trying her hand at hat making and learning to play bridge, Julia decides that eating and cooking are her true passions and she finally decides to enroll in the infamous Cordon Bleu School. There are some great scenes during that period when she’s in the cooking school with all the French men.

Meryl Streep as Julia Child

Meryl Streep as Julia Child

I’ve read quite a few reviews that say Amy Adams wasn’t the right choice for the part of Julie. Of course, she didn’t blow me away like Meryl Streep did, but I thought she did a great job at portraying Powell as the slightly neurotic cubicle worker and aspiring writer. There are some touching moments between her and her husband and I loved the way they decided to start the Julie/Julia Project blog. I still want to get a copy of Julie & Julia so I can read all her posts about her experiences in cooking the 524 recipes in 365 days.

I really enjoyed most of the movie but, I have to say that I was a teensy bit disappointed at the end. There seemed to be some huge gaps in time later in the movie as they were flipping back and forth between the two story lines. All of the sudden, Julie only has one recipe left to make and Julia mentions that she has been working on her book for eight years. It just ended too abruptly for me. As the credits rolled, my friend and I just looked at each other and said “it’s over?”

I do have a new-found respect for Julie Child. I had no idea that the book was eight years in the making and you could see that it was such a labor of love for her. Not that I will ever bone a duck or make Beef Bourguignon, but I am going to buy a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

One of my other good friends had something come up the night we went to the movie so she couldn’t join us. I’ll admit, if she wants me to go see it with her, I’ll go see it again. It still gets a ‘thumbs up’ even if I was a little disappointed.

~LilSis

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Julie and Julia

July 28, 2009

I’m not a very big ‘movie buff”. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good movie, but we rarely go to the movie theater. We would rather spend three hours doing something outdoors instead of sitting in a dark theater. I really can’t even sit at home long enough to watch a movie; there’s just always too much other stuff that I’d rather be doing.

The last “grown up” movie that I saw at the theater was “Sex in The City, The Movie” with BigSis and SisMama last year. And on my recent visit to Chicago, I took the little guys to see “Up” in 3D.

In all reality, there aren’t that many movies that I’m excited enough about to want to go see at the theater. I love romantic comedies and I’m a real sap for a happy endings. I’m not into vampires and I can’t stand horror flicks or violent films so that pretty much rules out a lot of new movies.

When I first heard that Meryl Streep was playing Julia Child in the upcoming movie, Julie and Julia, I knew that I wanted to go see it at the theater when it opens on August 7th.

We grew up watching Julia Child and I love Meryl Streep, so I can’t wait to see this film. I love the story about Julie and her commitment to cook daily from Julia Child’s cookbook.

I just recently ordered Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen so I could browse through the book before I see the movie.

I’m think that this movie is going to inspire me to cook something from Julia Child’s cookbook. :-)

~LilSis

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More to Love

July 19, 2009

When I take the time to watch TV, I do love me a reality show.  So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol and Top Chef are my favorites.  Top Chef is a Bravo show, but the other two are Fox productions.  I’m really curious about how the public is going to react to Fox’s newest show, which premiers Tuesday, July 28.  It’s called “More to Love”, and I’m just wondering if this show already rubs anyone else the wrong way, as it does me.  I’ve only seen the promos, but it screams exploitation to me.

Here’s what Fox’s web site has to say about “More to Love”:

MORE TO LOVE, the new dating competition show from Mike Fleiss (“The Bachelor”), follows one regular guy’s search for love among a group of real women determined to prove that love comes in all shapes and sizes. The inspirational new series is hosted by iconic supermodel Emme.

Luke Conley is a 26-year-old former college football offensive lineman who stands 6’3″ and weighs over 300 pounds. He’s a successful sub-contractor and real estate investor who has his sights set on building a long-lasting relationship. Luke’s ideal woman is intelligent, passionate, down-to-earth, full-figured and comfortable in her own skin.

This eligible guy will have the chance to find the woman of his dreams when 20 voluptuous ladies vie for his heart. These unique women have careers ranging from waitress to teacher to lawyer to rocket scientist, but they all have one thing in common: They are also looking for love.

This brawny prince is searching for one curvy Cinderella to take on the romantic adventure of a lifetime. Throughout the course of his journey, Luke will wine and dine these women during romantic outings, where some will experience their first real dates. As Luke narrows the competition each week through emotional elimination ceremonies, he will be one step closer to finding the woman who is his perfect fit.

Fox uses nice words like unique, real women, curvy, voluptuous, and full-figured but to me the promos suggest that the focus of the show is going to be on the contestants being overweight.  That just makes me uncomfortable, and the show hasn’t even aired yet.  I guess I’m afraid these ladies are going to be ridiculed or mocked in some way because they’re not a size 2, which is what the ads say is the average size for other show contestants.

Fox calls this show inspirational. What do you think?  Does it sound inspirational to you?  Am I overreacting?  Is it only fair that there is a show devoted exclusively to voluptuous ladies?  Or do the ads make you cringe too?

~BigSis

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Horse racing and hats!

July 16, 2009

starting gate

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club kicks off its 2009 horse racing season in high style next Wednesday, July 22nd in Del Mar, California!  I LOVE Opening Day at Del Mar.

And, as always, on Opening Day, you don’t want to miss the “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest”.  It’s as much fun to watch as it is to enter. But if you REALLY want this, you can enter your hat in one of these four categories:

  • Best Racing Theme
  • Funniest/Most Outrageous
  • Most Glamorous
  • Best Fresh Flowers/Others

All entrants will receive two free passes to the races and the top three contestants in each category win cash prizes! You can sign up between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the Plaza de Mexico, located just inside the Stretch Run admission gates.

We’ve made it a tradition to attend on Opening Day and I do wear a hat but have never had one quite fabulous enough to enter into the contest. Believe me when I say they go all out!

I love this pink one from last year’s contest.

Flickr Photo by kjdrill

Flickr Photo by kjdrill

And, this one with the horse on top had to be heavy.

Yes, that is a HAT! (Flickr photo by kjdrill)

(Flickr photo by kjdrill)

Opening Day at Del Mar always proves to be a great day full of fun, food, glitz, and glamour. If you happen to live within driving distance and plan on making a day of it, make sure you get an early start on the I-5 to beat traffic!

I hope to see you there!!

~LilSis

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Food Network Magazine

October 24, 2008

Ding Dang Darnit!! I can’t believe I just did that! I CANNOT believe that I just subscribed to another magazine! I was on Food Network researching something and just saw this premier issue of Food Network Magazine advertised. Ten issues for only $15.00! How could I resist? BigSis, check it out. You might want to enter one of your recipes into their contest. Winner takes a prize of $500.00.

Food Network Magazine

Food Network Magazine

Here’s one of the recipes from this month’s premier issue.  This Broccoli Chowder with Cheddar Toasts looks so yummy! Now that it’s cooling off here a little bit in the evenings, I’m getting in the mood to make some soup. I’ll probably have to triple this recipe to feed the “hungry men” in my house.

Brocolli Chowder with Cheddar Toasts

Broccoli Chowder with Cheddar Toasts

A couple of years ago, I intentionally stopped subscribing to several magazines that I had subscribed to for years.  I stopped InStyle, Food & Wine, Fit, Domino, Self, and a couple others that I can’t even remember.  There’s not enough time to read that many magazines and it would actually stress me out if the unread magazines started to stack up.

I had my current magazine subscriptions down to my absolute favorites, whole living body+soul,  FitYoga, Heart Healthy and Sculptural Pursuit. A couple of months ago, I received an offer to subscribe to Food & Wine for only $2.00 for the year, so I’ve added that one back to my monthly subscriptions. Heart Healthy and Sculptural Pursuit only come out every quarter, so I don’t really receive all five magazines every month.

BigSis, you’ve got some stories to tell about magazines stacking up, right?  Literally, stacking up! Wanna share?

Inquiring minds want to know. Just how many magazines are too many? Six sounds like a lot to me, but maybe it’s really not.  I’d love to hear from everyone on this topic. What are your favorite magazines?  How many subscriptions do you have?

~LilSis

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