Tag Archives: “The Hunger Games”

Too Long of an Engagement

Tom and Violet are a happy couple . . . sometimes.

The Mister and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary yesterday. We got married in 1990 after a one-year engagement, mainly because my biological clock was ticking like a time bomb (I was 36), and because I wanted to make sure my father, who was terminally ill, could be there (he died the next year).

Which makes it hard for me to understand why anyone needs a five-year engagement. But, apparently, co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller thought the longer period of time the better when it comes to a romantic comedy.

They were, unfortunately, wrong.

Still got that galmance for Emily Blunt.

Tom Solomon (Segel) proposes to his girlfriend of a year, Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), on New Year’s Eve. Tom is a chef in San Francisco, while Violet is hoping to get psychology post-doctorate work at Cal-Berkeley. They start to plan their wedding . . . and then life happens. Twists and turns cause them to postpone their nuptials when Violet instead gets a two-year position at the University of Michigan. Tom tags along but has trouble finding meaningful work.

I know what you’re asking . . . why couldn’t they just get married in Michigan? That’s what I said. But then we wouldn’t have an absolutely awful middle third of the movie that ruined a splendid start and finish.

At first, I loved what a together couple Violet and Tom were. They really seemed connected. They had an easy-breezy, lemon-squeezy, natural relationship. The chemistry was good (well, except when I kept thinking about Emily Blunt really being married to Jim Halpert).

Violet's co-workers (Mindy Kaling, Randall Park, Kevin Hart, and boss Rhys Ifans)

I also enjoyed the scenes with Violet’s co-workers in the psych department (including Kelly Kapoor!). But then it all got uncomfortable with Violet and Tom moving away from each other, first romantically and then physically. The usual Judd Apatow (the producer) f-bombs and totally unnecessary sex scenes had me wishing for a refund.

Fortunately, the ending was brilliant. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save “The Five-Year Engagement” from the dreaded Netflix recommendation.

“Hunger Games” Redux

I watched the “Hunger Games” again, this time with the Mister. I liked it even more than the first time! Wish they would hurry up and complete the next movie.

“The Hunger Games”: Mostly Satisfying

The long-awaited movie finally opens!

Because I’ve apparently been living under a rock (or perhaps cleverly camouflaged by Peeta Mellark to blend in with the scenery), I hadn’t heard of “The Hunger Games” trilogy until I saw the movie trailer based on the first book. And I love young adult fiction! Haven’t I put in my time with Harry Potter and the “Twilight” gang?

That trailer looked intriguing, so I downloaded “The Hunger Games” to my Kindle (free to Amazon’s Prime members) and read it after first lending it to my older son (I knew he would like it). I finished Suzanne Collins’ well-written take on a dystopian (if I had to look it up, you do, too) society (Panem) that rises from the ashes of the United States after drought, fire, and war. Then I quickly polished off “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” (spoiler alert: all three were good, but I liked the first the best).

Katniss Everdeen could be an Olympic archer.

Now I was ready to see the movie! I actually drove to San Antonio last Saturday to watch it with my #1 son (the Mister and our younger boy were off playing disc golf). The verdict? We both enjoyed “The Hunger Games,” but we also were disappointed.

Of course, it’s a tough task to bring a much-loved book to the big screen. Especially one that is so richly penned, weaving such a compelling tale about how  24 tributes (one male and one female ages 12-18 were chosen from each of Panem’s 12 districts) travel to the freak-show Capitol to compete in the annual Hunger Games. A movie just can’t tell the story better than the novel. Period!

Katniss is caught in the middle between Peeta (left) and Gale.

Here were the positives: The casting was great! Jennifer Lawrence is wonderful as Katniss Everdeen, a teenager who illegally hunts to keep her family alive and volunteers to be her district’s female tribute at the brutal Hunger Games in place of her little sister. What a great heroine!

I thought Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, the district’s male counterpart in the fight-to-the-death games, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Katniss’ hunting partner, worked well. For those who haven’t read the books, the love triangle that’s hinted at in the movie is explored further in the sequels.

What movie isn’t Stanley Tucci good in?

Casting Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant Caesar Flickerman was simply brilliant! He’s a scene-stealer. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch surprised me; it was a perfect part for him (or Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on “Lost”). Elizabeth Banks lent just the right amount of kookiness to Effie Trinket.

Because the trilogy is told in the first person by Katniss, changes had to be made in the movie for its third-person point of view. I especially liked the use of the command center, which gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the Hunger Games were controlled. Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), the head gamemaker, had a much-bigger role in the film, which gave us an interesting angle. Plus I thought the music was great.

The mockingjay pin

On the negative side, I disliked how the writers handled how Katniss got the important mockingjay pin, which was her good-luck charm. They couldn’t give Madge 30 seconds of on-screen time? She was one of Katniss’ only friends!

Also, the book emphasized the importance of food—the abundance for the “haves” in the Capitol (which astounds Katniss) vs. the starvation mode in the “have-not” districts. Yet the movie merely glosses over this. In fact, you really couldn’t tell that people in District 12 were perpetually hungry.

Even though the Hunger Games part of the movie had me on the edge of my seat at times, it felt rushed. I know they didn’t want the deaths to be too violent for the PG-13 rating, but the fact that kids were killing kids is what made the “sport” so horrific. The muttations weren’t as good as I expected, either.

All in all, though, I recommend seeing the movie. Just hope that the odds will ever be in your favor!

Books and Movies

Just see the movie.

I started reading “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (a title that I never can remember, by the way; I always have to look it up) before the movie came out. I was only about halfway through the novel when the Mister and I saw the film, finishing the book soon after. That gave me an interesting perspective of both media.

For the first time ever, I thought the movie actually was better than the book! Eric Roth, the screenwriter, did a masterful job separating the wheat from the considerable, overwrought chaff penned by Jonathan Safran Foer. I know there are plenty of people who loved the novel, but I thought it needed better editing. Or it just could be that I didn’t like Foer’s writing style.

The narrator is different in the book.

On the heels (or should that be “hooves”) of seeing and finishing “Extremely Loud,” I next experienced “War Horse,” first by movie and then by book on my Kindle. The Mister and I loved the flick, so I couldn’t wait to read the novel it was based on.

Talk about your quick reads! Of course, it helps that it’s geared towards children, which also meant that those graphic war scenes on the big screen were added to the already-rich story. The biggest surprise for me? The book is narrated by Joey, the horse. What a novel (hee hee!) idea!

I wouldn’t say I was too caught up with the story’s sentimentality and sweetness, but I’ll admit that I felt a little embarrassed when I was finishing the book while eating lunch at Chipotle. I sat hunched over my Kindle trying not to let any of the other patrons see me cry at the ending.

I did discover, though, that tears give guacamole an unusual flavor!

So far, so good!

Right now I’m speeding through “The Hunger Games” (free on my Kindle through Amazon.com’s Prime lending library). It’s so compelling that it’s tempting to just read all day and let the laundry pile up. I love books like that!

I sure hope the movie, set to debut next month, does the novel justice. I can’t wait to finish the book, go to the theater, and judge for myself.

Stay tuned for the review!