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‘The Hunger Games’ movie: Of course, the books are better March 26, 2012

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment, News.
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Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. (Photo from Lionsgate via Collider.com)

When I first got my hands on “The Hunger Games” book, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up through the wee hours of the morning to finish the first book in Suzanne Collins‘ dystopian trilogy.

But the movie — at more than two hours — just doesn’t pack the same intensity and intricacy that made the book such a page turner.

It’s not a bad movie. But it’s not a great one, either. Fans of the books are curious to see how Hollywood interprets the story of heroine Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the annual “kids killing kids” competition that is televised throughout the 12 districts and Capitol of the country Panem.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. (Photo from Lionsgate via Collider.com)

And the film pretty much follows the book, but the small details that were left out (you can’t put everything in!) make me as a reader wonder if non-readers figured it out. The flashbacks to Peeta tossing Katniss burned bread take forever. There is no relationship between Katniss and her “image” crew in the movie.  Even Katniss’ time with Cinna — played by Lenny Kravitz — was much more subdued in the movie. (He sports nice gold eyeliner.) The eerie, creepy hovercraft that picked up the bodies was eliminated from the movie. And the whole evening tribute to the dead tributes seemed muted. In the books, that part freaked me out.

The movie spends a lot of time laying out the groundwork for the games, but once we get into the actual killing competition, the second half and ending seem rushed.

That said, when I go  back and think about how the film was edited, I’d be hard-pressed to say what I would add back in while keeping the violence level toned down — not a lot of gore in the film as opposed to the book — and the film at a reasonable length. Visually, I thought the movie was spot on, too.

If you like the books — go see the movie just to see how the characters and action were portrayed in the film. Just be prepared for a slower, less detailed version of the book. And if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the books — read the books. Always better. And that’s the case here.

Did you miss these?

How the actors got ready for “The Hunger Games”

4 things we won’t see in “The Hunger Games”

“The Hunger Games” is coming to TV

Music review: “The Hunger Games” soundtrack

Did you know? How the actors got ready for ‘The Hunger Games’ March 12, 2012

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment, News.
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Katniss photo by Murray Close/Lions Gate

Katniss photo by Murray Close/Lions Gate

Here is some interesting movie trivia about our fave characters in the upcoming THE HUNGER GAMES movie that I pulled from interviews published in the special collector’s edition from PEOPLE and US WEEKLY. (US mag included 125 photos and 3 giant posters. Cost me $10! But was good read and loved all of the photos. PEOPLE was $7. Not as many pics but tons of good info!)

Straight as an arrow
Katniss: Jennifer Lawrence, 21, trained with Khatuna Lorig, an Olympic medalist in archery, to perfect her bow skills. Lawrence practiced with Lorig for one hour a day for three weeks. “She’d shoot 100 arrows a day from different distances,” Lorig told PEOPLE. How did Lawrence do? “She was a natural,” Lorig said.

Fattening up:
Peeta; Josh Hutcherson, 19,  had to gain 15 pounds to play the baker’s son. But he didn’t eat pastry to bulk up. Hutcherson ate two chicken breasts and two handfuls of broccoli five times a day. He also had to bleach his dark hair blond. Early attempts to lighten his hair without bleaching  bleaching left his hair orange and later a greenish hue. So stylists finally just did things the old-fashioned way and bleached it.

A better role?
Gale: Aussie actor Liam Hemsworth, 22, auditioned for the lead role in “Thor” but that job went to his big brother Chris, 28. But maybe Gale is the better role? Liam didn’t have to train as much as his other colleagues, but he did have to lose weight — no one said how much — so he looked like he lived in District 12, where everyone is always scrapping for food. He also had to have his lighter locks dyed dark. (And yes, he’s the guy who is linked romantically to Miley Cyrus, 19.)

Photo from The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion

About the Tributes

Cato: The most evil tribute is played by Alexander Ludwig, 19. I’ve never seen him in anything but that’s because his biggest movie credit to date is 2009’s RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. But he used to be an Abercrombie model. He told US that he worked with a Navy SEAL for his training.

Clove: Played by Isabelle Fuhrman, 15. She was sadistic main character in the thriller ORPHAN.

Foxface: I also don’t know this actor — Jacqueline Emerson, 17. PEOPLE says she was a “keyboardist in the Disney kiddie band Devo 2.0.” But she is friends with director Gary Ross’s daughter. Ross interviewed her to get a kid’s take on the books. Then he asked her to audition for the role.

Glimmer: Leven Rambin, 21, snagged this role. You’ve seen her on Grey’s Anatomy and Wizards of Waverly Place. But she’s probably best-known for playing look-alike half-sisters Lily Montgomery and Ava Benton on the daytime soap opera All My Children.

Marvel: Is played by (gulp — I feel old now) Jack Quaid, 19. Yup — he’s the son on actors Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. This is his feature film debut.

Rue: So cute. Amandla Stenberg, 13, handles the role. PEOPLE did a whole story on her. (PEOPLE noted that her mother — Karen Brailsford — is a former PEOPLE correspondent.) Never seen her before but she played younger version of Zoe Saldana’s character in COLOMBIANA. Her mom rolled her clothes in dirt and had her put twigs in her hair for her audition.

Thresh: Another debut. Dayo Okeniyi, 23, who grew up in Nigeria. Came to the U.S. for school and is a 2009 grad of Anderson University, where he studied graphic design.

That’s if for now. In the next post I’ll talk about some of the other characters, including Lenny Kravitz, who plays Cinna!

Until then, check out the music to the movie. Here’s a clip from Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars called “Safe & Sound”

4 things we won’t see in ‘The Hunger Games’ movie March 4, 2012

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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The March 9th edition of Entertainment Weekly’s cover feature is all about ‘The Hunger Games’ movie, which opens on March 23. Among the insider tidbits EW scored? Four things from the book that we won’t see in the movie because there wasn’t time to do all of the great back stories:

Madge: Already in the trailer to the movie we know something is different because we see Katniss get the Mockingjay pin from her sister Prim and not Madge, daughter of District 12’s mayor.

The Avoxes: Unlike the book, the movie won’t feature any meaningful scenes between Katniss and the Avox servant girl in the Capitol. There are Avoxes in the movie, but just don’t expect the storyline in the book to appear in the movie.

The Prep Team: I was shocked a bit by this because the team is such a big part of the book. We do get to meet Octavia, Flavius and Venia but the film’s producer — Nina Jacobson — told EW that the focus was on establishing Cinna.

Capitol Gadgetry: Not a biggie for me. I’m sure the filmmakers will make the Capitol seem big and cold and ominous. We just won’t get to see Katniss pushing buttons to make food appear.

The EW website has a lot of this info and more, including new photos from the movie, on their site HERE.

A few links to some nifty stories there:

Why Lenny Kravitz was the man on the ‘Hunger Games’ set

Jennifer Lawrence’s embarrassing first words to co-star Woody Harrelson

‘Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins on “Will lovers of the book be happy with the movie?”

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