Well, friends, I had the thrilling experience of being invited to a screening of the Hunger Games movie in LA today, and I am here to tell you, it did not disappoint. But before I get into a movie review, can I just say how much I loved the comments on yesterday’s post? It’s so fascinating to see how differently people interpreted the book, the ending, and the motivations of the characters Plus, it’s comforting to know that there are a whole bunch of other women in a similar lifestage geeking out over this series. I must admit, I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I finished the last book. I became so engrossed in the story and the characters that I was really sad when I was done with the series, so I went into the movie excited to get involved in the story again. For me, the movie was everything I hoped it would be. I am the type of reader who tends to skim over descriptive parts of a book. I’m not particularly imaginative in my own head, and I get so focused on the human drama that I often impatiently skim over descriptions of scenery or other visuals. Seeing the movie played out on screen brought so many details to life that I missed in the book. The scenery and costumes were really spectacular. They were both particularly effective in showing the contrast between District 12 and The Capitol. District 12 felt stark and cold, with the characters in clothing that were reminiscent of the depression era. Once the action moved to The Capitol, though, the movie really was a feast for the eyes. The food, the clothing, the makeup . . . all of it was so over-the-top and so carefully detailed. It was like Lady Gaga puked over an entire city, and it was the perfect way to highlight the privilege and excess of The Capitol. And the casting . . . oh my word. I really did feel like the casting was pitch-perfect for nearly every character. Katniss was strong and likeable. I loved that this actress was not stick-thin, and I felt she did a great job of portraying Katniss’s inner monologue. Stanley Tucci was spot-on as the clownish celebrity interviewer who knew how to manipulate his audience as well as his subject. I also loved Elizabeth Banks as the self-absorbed Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as the drunk-yet-endearing Haymitch. Lenny Kravitz was great as Cinna, and the little girl who played Primm was absolutely adorable. As a whole, I felt the movie was very well acted, and quite an improvement over the acting in a certain other young-adult trilogy that was adapted for film, if you catch my drift. Also, fair warning. If you’ve declared yourself Team Peeta, that might just change upon seeing the actors playing the male leads. I think Gale may have an unfair advantage here. The movie adaptation works very well, for many of the same reasons the book was so compelling. The first half of the movie is about setting up the characters and understanding their motivations. The action doesn’t really start until the games begin, which is nearly halfway into the movie. From that point on, the movie switches from a character-driven drama to a high-paced thriller, and the pace doesn’t slow until the end. I’m not a fan of on-screen violence and if you know the story at all, you know that this is an inevitable aspect of the movie. I felt like it was handled well, without being gratuitous. I wouldn’t take young children to the movie, but I would think that any child old enough to enjoy the series could handle the movie scenes as well. I was pretty riveted for the entre movie, and the end definitely left me looking forward to the next installment. I think Hunger Games fans will be pleased with the movie, but I also think it stands on its own. It has all of the elements of a great film: a love triangle, ethical dilemmas, well-drawn characters, and plenty of action that appeal to the guy you drag to see it with you. Under the surface, though, I think the story of the Hunger Games is really an exploration of human nature . . . of war, of privilege, and of love. I think it’s a modern-day allegory of the danger of greed and a society lacking in empathy. The movie will entertain, but it will also leave you thinking . . . and to me, that’s the best kind of cinematic experience.