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All Hail Wes Bentley’s Beard!

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**MEDIUM-DEGREE SPOILERS**

It’s been nearly three years since I first laid my paws on Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games — I haven’t let go since. I devoured the first two books (THG and Catching Fire) in the trilogy and had to wait EIGHT MONTHS for the release of Mockingjay. I’d told my friends about this series that was now tied first place with Harry Potter in my heart/bookshelf, and they expressed polite disinterest. “Maybe I’ll read them if I get the chance.”

If only they knew then that by now they’d be just as sucked in as I am.

Last night we all headed out in our best Capitol/tribute attire to participate in the 74th annual Hunger Games. And we clenched hands as the theatre darkened and we waited.

It was good. Obviously not nearly as detailed or intricate as the book, but the screenwriters (one of which was Collins herself) managed to take Katniss’ thoughts and plaster them on the screen without narration — which I was glad for.

District 12 was amazing, nearly everything I imagined. The camera shook and shivered at shots of coal miners, old men, etc…adding an aura of instability and weakness to the poor district. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) was his handsome and irritating/teasing/attractive self, but I personally thought they played up the love triangle too soon in the series. Couldn’t you wait until the second movie, Gary? I really can’t say that much else – other than they needlessly deleted an entire character! Poor Madge; just **poof!**

Josh Hutcherson is a cutie as Peeta, surprisingly convincing as a blond considering his natural hair is black! And, originally I was upset about Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, but I love it. Fabulous, sweetheart. He had the drunk, ironic, crappy mentor down to perfection, in all the little details as he covered his glass from being refilled by an Avox. Oh, and Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci)! He’s exactly who I pictured as the blue-haired master of ceremonies. Excellent job, Debra Zane.

One last little casting comment. Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane. While Seneca doesn’t make a direct or noted appearance in the novels, the film makers took every excuse to have that amazing beard in the shot. I enjoyed that he played a relatively large role, calling the shots from the Game Centre and making decisions. (“Give me a tree.” And a tree falls in front of a fleeing Katniss.) He was as much of a character as Cato, and more so than Clove or Glimmer.

The bloodbath at the Cornicopia was heartbreaking and pleasingly disturbing. I was afraid they would coddle the audience with grunts and tousled hair, but there was blood, there was combat, there was snapping of bones. Good. This is not a kid’s book, and it’s not a kid’s movie.  

Despite the movie’s length (2 hours, 22 minutes) it felt short and unfinished, mostly because they had to shorten and merge multiple scenes into a couple of minutes. I have been hearing some less-than-sunny reviews, and in some cases I agree. It made 100% more sense if you read the book. While the movie on its own was good, the movie with the book was better.

Music: yes. Capitol costumes: goodness yes. Peeta’s blue eyes: non existent. Knocking Peeta out to save him: non existent. Cave scene: nearly non existent.

I know it’s not a very thorough review, but I had to say something about it before I forgot, and really don’t have the time. Read Kristin Cashore’s thoughts on the books. 

May the odds be ever in your favour!

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