Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
Since Harry Potter came on the scene, movie studios have been looking for a book series that would captivate young audience members and their parents into watching a package deal.
Many books came to the big screen: The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Narnia, Judy Moody, Bezzus and Ramona. Some worked out while others didn’t make it beyond the first film.
I hear a lot of people say “Well, they are just family movies. You shouldn’t expect much.”
I disagree with that because if I am plunking down my cold hard cash – which I do not have in abundance – I want the product to be of good quality. I want a family movie that has a well-told story and good action. I want characters to be believable. If my heart gets a little broken, that is Okay.
When The Hunger Games was announced as a new movie project, I knew little about the book. My daughter had read it which meant I stole her copy and read it for myself.
I really loved the book. It was exciting, subversive, and dark. I could see all of these characters living in a dangerous world, where any sort of rebellion was quickly slammed down. At the end of the book, I understood why Katniss never wanted to have children.
When the movie came out last spring, we were happy that it was going to be at one of our favorite drive-in movie theaters. We took our seven-year-old with us but I do not believe this was a movie he should have seen. The age of ten might be the best starting age for this movie.
You understand that as the games begin and we watched Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Petra (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes navigate the playing field. We see what their life is like back home and come to understand the grinding level of poverty. They have to take everything they know to a treacherous Capitol where image is everything and the more outlandish the better.
The story telling is well done, drawing on the constant fear. The cinematography is beautiful and nearly seamless with the necessary CGI effects. What grabs my attention, however, is the performances by Lawrence, Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson. These three people have to see the worst of humanity through a process not of their choosing. To see how each character copes is as interesting as the game itself.
If you have read the book first, be aware that not every detail makes it into the movie. That is simply the way of movie transformation, especially when you have a limited time frame to tell the story. We will not get the whole story of the connection between Katniss and Petra . Nor will some of the subtleties of other characters be on display.
What we do get is suspense, great storytelling, a connection to characters and a look into a world that could be ours if things had gone differently.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.