Eric and I made plans to see “The Hunger Games” on Thursday night/Friday morning. I’ve never done a midnight showing before, but if there was ever a movie to do it for, this was it for me. But even as I bought the tickets, I sort of knew it was a mistake.
See, Eric and I also had arranged to get new carpet installed in our apartment on Friday morning. The carpet in our apartment had been through about six years and several previous tenants without ever being replaced; then we went and brought two puppies into the mix and it got to the point where I could no longer stand it. Unfortunately, to replace the carpet, we had to move the furniture room by room…so first we’d move all the furniture from the spare bedroom into other parts of the apartment while they did the spare bedroom…then we’d move it all back in, plus the furniture from the living room, while they did the living room…and so on. Packing up the entire apartment was just not something I was looking forward to, and we really should have known better than to plan to do it all before going to the movie or first thing in the morning after the midnight showing.
But we bought the tickets anyway.
We also knew that the midnight showing of “The Hunger Games” was going to be filled with screaming teenagers. We thought we’d be OK with that. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. We knew they’d cheer when the lights went down and that they’d clap at the end of the movie. But still. Hundreds of teenagers and — worse — their mothers.
But we bought the tickets anyway.
Around 8 PM on Friday night, Eric and I were sitting in Subway eating dinner. We had been packing and were planning to go home and do some more packing until we left the apartment around 10:30. I wasn’t sure how the midnight showing would work in terms of lining up, the theater actually opening, etc. so I gave them a call. “Well,” the girl on the phone said. “There’s already quite a line here.”
With that, my competitive side came out and I started inhaling the rest of my tuna sandwich. Then we basically sprinted home, where we changed, grabbed our stuff, and headed to the theater. I was already imagining Black-Friday-esque lines. And worse…Black-Friday-esque people. Someone was going to trample me, I just knew it.
The movie was showing in four theaters, so we got a decent spot in one of the lines…in the first hundred for sure. We knew we’d get in, as we had pre-purchased tickets; it was really about not having to sit in the front row. The lines were mostly filled with teenagers, with a few moms here and there. We were the only adults who weren’t there with kids. We played with our iPhones while the kids did homework and…played with their iPhones.
As we sat on the floor, we observed the groups of teenagers flooding in and discussed the politics of high school. Then we began to observe the groups of teenagers flooding in and…seeing their friends and just joining their friends in line. Well in front of us.
And that’s when we both just started to get rullllllll pissed.
I don’t know what it is about people cutting in line that gets all people equally (and somewhat irrationally) angry. It doesn’t matter how laid-back you are; the second someone cuts you in line, you start seeing red. They are effectively stealing what is rightfully yours, what you earned by showing up early. This teeny tiny injustice makes you mad about all the injustice you’ve ever experience and, really, all the injustice in the world ever. You cut in front of me in line, and suddenly I’m mad about slavery, getting cut from the play my sophomore year of high school, Ke$ha, every job I didn’t get, and Rick Santorum.
In this case, I was extra pissed because a mother was the one who was organizing all the line cutting. This woman was clearly who Regina’s mom in “Mean Girls” was based on, from her designer jeans to her Uggs to the fact that she was drinking a cocktail from the movie theater’s bar in line. She was the one waving all the new girls over and saving their spots in line. Eric, the mom in front of us, and I were just raging.
“WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE YOU SENDING YOUR DAUGHTER?” we bitched. “That it’s OK to break rules if it means making more friends?! WE SHOWED UP EARLY! WHY IS THE THEATER SO UNPREPARED? HOW DO THEY NOT NOTICE THE EVER-EXPANDING MASS IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS MOSTLY SINGLE-FILE LINE?!?!”
And on and on and on.
Oh, and we complained to ushers and the theater manager on about ten occasions. They did nothing. At one point, an older man, presumably a dad, who had just walked in stood very close by, listening as I pointed and said, “See this group? They all came in just a second ago.” He watched. And then he just inched closer to that very group, which he ended up walking in with.
When we finally started walking into the theater around 10:30, it got even worse. Because apparently, we weren’t the only ones feeling a bit edgy and competitive. Because all the kids in line around us? Broke into a sprint as soon as they crossed the threshold of the theater. (The irony that this was quite like the bloodbath at the beginning of the games in the movie seemed to be lost on everyone.) I was actually pretty worried that someone would get trampled.
When we got into the theater a few seconds later, there was totally a “Wait, why were we so upset?!” moment. Because that theater? Was huge. Seriously. We got great seats. We could have shown up at 11:00 and still gotten decent seats.
The weird thing was that we were so amped up in line because we were so pissed and so walking in felt like a culmination of that…but then we still had to spend another 90 minutes waiting for the movie surrounded by teenagers who were still really amped. It did give us an hour and a half to discuss how much it must suck to be a teenager in this day and age and we debated certain aspects of parenting a teenager (which just made me want to have my tubes tied right then and there) which was entertaining enough.
When the previews came on, there was a lot of shrieking and people started sprinting to their seats. They shrieked and “WOOOOO!”ed through every single preview. After the “Breaking Dawn Part II” preview and a couple others that looked pretty similar, we saw a preview for what appeared to be some sort of new Abraham Lincoln movie…if Abraham Lincoln were a badass vigilante. Eric leaned over and whispered — totally kidding — “So is Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires or werewolves in this movie?” Moments later, the title appeared: “Abraham Lincoln” Vampire Hunter.”
Based on these previews, I now a little unsure about what we should expect from “The Hunger Games.”
Despite how much WOOOOOO-ing the audience was doing during the previews, they quieted right down as soon as the main event began. I’ve actually rarely been in such a rapt, silent audience. I realized after the movie that with very few exceptions, I was more into the story and felt more of the story world than I have in any other movie I can think of.
I have so many thoughts on the movie, and have been reading a lot of reviews and fan commentary that I both agreed with and disagreed with, that I’m not even sure where to start!
Here are some of my thoughts:
The casting was, overall, fantastic. My favorites were Stanley Tucci as Caesar, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. I liked Haymitch and Effie too, but we saw far too little of them for them to make a big impact (which was a bummer).
I teared up during the Reaping, when Gale carried Prim away. Also, Gale was a hunk.
The opening was way too short. Why does Katniss hunt? Why is she such a badass? What happened to her father? What is life like in the districts? What does her mother do for a living? The answers to these questions are, to me, crucial to caring about this story. They flew through this part of the movie and I doubt that people who hadn’t read the books understood why the stakes were so high or what makes Katniss this heroine that people love so much.
I was disappointed by how little of Katniss’s makeover in the Capitol we saw. I think that that’s a huge moment, when we really see the contrast between the districts and the Capitol and it’s the point when you realize, “Oh, these people seem so grotesque with their beauty rituals, but…we’re so them.” I was also disappointed by how little we saw of her prep team. Again, I feel like you need them (and Effie) to really explain who the Capitol is; it helps you understand the horror of the games.
I loved the chariot scene. I felt like the Capitol was such an eerie, perfect blend of ancient, 1940s-50s modern, and futuristic and it really felt like it in this scene more than any other.
I loved when Katniss is waiting to get in her tube to the arena just before the games and, when the countdown begins, she looks terrified and actually begins shaking. I mean, who wouldn’t be shaking at that point? I think that a lot of times, the tributes just didn’t look terrified enough and I loved that moment.
I thought they did a great job with the violence. I knew it would be somewhat tame in order to get the PG-13 rating, but I didn’t feel like the movie suffered. I also felt like the music helped a ton. (I actually thought the entire score was fantastic.) The sort of slow ballad made the fight scenes seem less fetishized and more sad, which was important.
I was so excited to see the cornucopia! I could not visualize that when I was reading the books and I really couldn’t visualize the final scene in the games, but seeing that it was geometric and not curved made a lot more sense.
I really liked seeing the Gamemakers’ control room and watching Seneca Crane put on his show. I also loved how they cut to Caesar and Claudius acting as commentators on the game to provide more explanation when necessary. Loved it.
The movie moved so fast, and while that felt a little weird, I don’t know how else you could do it. While being alone with Katniss in the woods was great in the books, that obviously wouldn’t work well on screen. I felt like the movie was very true to the book, it just only showed the action scenes, which makes sense. I do wish it showed more time lapsing in the arena though…they were there for a couple weeks if I recall correctly.
I loved watching the Careers interact and chase down the other tributes because it really made the whole thing feel like high school, which I didn’t get from the book. It was easier to remember that these are kids when those on screen were acting just like the kids in the theater with me. That made it have more of an impact for me. I particularly thought Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove) and Alexander Ludwig (Cato) were spot-on. It was just like, Oh, I know those people. They totally exist in real life.
I loved how the actress playing Rue and the actress playing Prim looked so much alike; awesome casting.
As soon as Katniss and Rue started hanging out during the games, Eric and I grabbed hands and I think both of us felt kind of sick the entire time, knowing what was coming. I’m pretty sure everyone in the theater was crying during that scene.
While the cave scene got pretty long in the book, I think they cut it too short in the movie. At least give us some signal that time has elapsed so we see that Peeta and Katniss are bonding and that she’s taking care of him and nursing him back to life.
I hated how they did Foxface’s death. In the book, Katniss and Peeta are planning to eat the berries; in the movie, Peeta finds the berries and when Katniss sees them, she immediately recognizes them as nightlock and starts shrieking at him. I loved in the book how Katniss realizes she could have easily eaten them and she felt some remorse that Foxface, who she knew had a chance of winning because she was so clever, had sort of unintentionally kept her alive. It was such a slight change, but that’s one of my favorite parts in the book and it bugged me that they didn’t do it quite right.
I didn’t catch it at the time, but they left out the bread from District 11, which was a bummer. That said, I loved that they showed the riot in District 11. But…we needed the bread too!
I can’t imagine what people who didn’t read the book would make of the movie and I really think if you’re on the fence you should just read the damn book first (because it takes like two days, tops). To me, the movie was a great compliment to the book. As a standalone? Eh. I don’t think it would do much for me.
I was disappointed the muttations didn’t have the tributes’ features because that was one of the more horrifying things from the book and I really wanted to see it on screen because I had trouble imagining it.
I didn’t think any of the tributes looked hungry enough, dirty enough, or bloody enough, especially Katniss and Peeta at the end. Like, not a hair out of place. And why was Peeta walking so easily?! I call bullshit.
The Morning After
Obviously, I walked out of the movie with a lot of thoughts and wanted to talk about them. I was both sad about the movie and pumped about the fact that I’d just seen one of my favorite books come to life in the middle of the night. Eric and I stayed up talking until almost 4 AM, then went to bed and woke up at 7 AM to finish packing up the apartment for the new carpet. (And, of course, I dreamt about the games.) I was glad to have seen the movie, but we were both feeling pretty cranky and had way too much to do for the apartment to be in that sort of a mood. If I had known that I’d start shouting at Eric over a stupid conversation we were having about the subject matter of country music around 8 AM…well, OK I would have bought the tickets anyway, but I still felt like an asshole for being so cranky.
Friday (and yesterday…and today) turned out to be so busy as we took our apartment apart and put it back together and then dealt with a bunch of other appointments and errands; I haven’t really had a chance yet to discuss everything I experienced during the midnight showing of “The Hunger Games.” But now is probably a great time, as I know a lot of people just saw it yesterday and today. So…I’d love to hear what you thought!
And if you didn’t see it…can you just tell me whether or not you react to people cutting in line the way that I do? Because, honestly, even though we had good seats and everything, I’m still pretty pissed about that.