I'm having an incredibly hard time organizing my thoughts about the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games. This isn't because I don't know how I feel about it, because I certainly know that. In fact, I can tell you: I think this was one of the best book adaptations I've had the pleasure of seeing in a long time. As someone who studied film adaptations before, I think it's very interesting to see how directors interpret certain books, especially a book of the magnitude of The Hunger Games. The fans are rabid (I should know; I'm one of the rabid), and they don't want their very beloved characters to be shown incorrectly.
From what I saw at the screening last night, Gary Ross did an excellent job translating a first person narrative into a well-paced, well-acted, well-written piece of cinema. He did a couple of things I wasn't excited about, but for every complaint, I have about a hundred moments I loved, so it more than balances out for me. The new parts were actually some of the things I loved the most, and I'm so glad they were included. Jennifer Lawrence was more incredible than I ever could have imagined (and I imagined she'd be perfect), and Josh Hutcherson was simply my perfect Peeta. I'm so, so pleased and so proud to call myself a fan. If I feel like this, I can only imagine how Suzanne Collins feels.
What my issue is in writing this "review" is something that I've seen all over the internet in the past day or so, and it pertains to the incredibly lovely experience I had last night. I am a fan of the movies. I love the movie-going experience, which is weird for me to say because I sort of hate crowds and the general public. However, the theater experience can really help shape an opinion of a movie, and it can cause you to tip one way or the other regarding even the most frivolous film. For example, my parents went to see one of my favorite films The Empire Strikes Back in the theater in 1980 when it was released (please note: I'm not saying that Empire is frivolous, but this is one of the best examples I have so bear with me). They remember this event not just because they loved seeing one of the greatest sequels of all time as it was meant to be seen, but also because a member of the audience brought his young son with him, and he needlessly explained to his son what was happening during every scene. The most memorable explanation came when it was decided to shut the base doors for the night on Hoth even though Luke and Han had not yet returned from their mission. Chewy moaned a mournful Wookiee noise for his BPFF (best pilot friend forever), and the man said to his son, "Chewbacca is sad because his friend is stuck out in the cold." 32 years later, my parents still say, "Chewbacca is sad," whenever they see this particular scene.
To me, this silly tale of Wookiee woe means that the experience at the movie theater sticks with you, and it shapes your opinion of the film. Last night at the screening, my experience is entirely what it should have been: personal to me yet perfectly shared. We all laughed together, we all cried together (according to the sniffles I heard as I helplessly swiped my hand across my tear-and-mascara-stained cheeks). During tense scenes, we gasped and cheered and applauded and shrieked as one unit. I did not feel a bit of awkwardness when I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I pressed my hand to my mouth to stifle sobs because the girls next to me were also clinging to each other in solidarity. No matter where we came from or what we were going home to, at that moment we were together in the audience, sharing this night and this moment.
That makes for one hell of a movie, in my opinion.
So, my point, and I swear I have one, is this: I do not want to put anything out into the ether that might take that experience away from you. More than anything, I want you to have exactly what I did. I want you to witness the agony of the arena for yourself, take the journey with Katniss Everdeen in your own way. How I feel about the movie doesn't matter, especially if it influences you to form an opinion without getting the chance to see it for yourself.
Feel free to let me know what you think of the film once you have a chance to see it, and may the odds be ever in your favor!