I live in a small town with around 4000 residents, an old-fashioned Main Street and a single-screen movie theater. Usually we get movies two weeks after the release date and less than 20 people might attend a weeknight show but even my little theater is showing The Hunger Games this weekend and the fun got started with a midnight show on Thursday. As a fan of the books and a supporter of independently-owned businesses, I had to see what a midnight showing at my local theater would look like so some friends and I headed for Main Street at 11:00 Thursday night.
I saw something that I’ve never seen in town before – a crowd of people standing in a line! There were more people waiting to get into the movie theater than usually go to this theater in an entire week. Inside, the theater was hopping with activity, which I bet it hasn’t seen since the first “Talkie” premiered last millennium. The audience was mostly teens and their parents and everybody was having a blast and excited about seeing the movie.
You could tell the audience was made up of people who had read the book because watching the movie with them was like being part of a giant inside joke or a “you had to be there” story. Everyone grumbled at how the Mockingjay pin was introduced, hooted when characters made their first appearance and raised their hands to salute District 12 – it was great! I was a little disappointed that kids weren’t wearing costumes–If I was 13, I would have rocked some District 12 miner’s garb–but overall everyone was really into it and having fun.
Minor Spoilers Below
So how was the movie? I loved it! The film-makers did a great job of bringing the world of Panem from the book onto the screen and I loved seeing how they visualized District 12, the Capital and the characters. The movie captured the ridiculously flamboyant style of the Capital residents and dour depression of the districts. I was also impressed by how many little details and elements from the book made it into the movie. We saw the friction (and it’s cause) between Katniss and her mom, Prim’s cat and goat (mentioned) and the Hob to name a few. At the same time, there were some surprising omissions including Madge Undersee and how Katniss received the mockingjay pin, the girl and boy in the woods who became Avoxes and the hovercrafts removing the dead tributes.
The movie managed to convey the violence of the book while still keeping it PG13 and the casting was spot on. I’m glad they went with relatively unknown, yet up and coming, actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth) for the teenage characters and choose actors who aren’t overly exposed for the adults (Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks). Woody Harrelson (one of the most recognizable actors in the movie) was great as Haymitch and I loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. It’s also nice to see Wes Bentley back in the movies. Bentley was an “It Boy” after starring in American Beauty in 1999 but after a few flops and a serious drug problem he disappeared from the scene.
Fans of the book (myself included) should be very pleased with the movie and people who have never read the book should also love it. I went to the midnight showing with another book fan and two people who haven’t read the book and we all thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
The Hunger Games is in theaters (many) now and playing around the clock.
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