So here's part 2 of my ridiculously lengthy Hunger Games review :) Broken up into manageable pieces just for you :D
And, of course, I have to say SPOILERS AHEAD for both the books and the movie.
Which I personally find odd, since I was quite impressed about how much Gale they managed to fit in, considering we get very little of him in the books.
First I'd like to say that the casting here was perfect too. I started rereading the first book today and the physical descriptions of Gale (and Peeta) fit the actors amazingly well. They really worked hard to choose the right players for this film.
Gale and Katniss in the woods wasn't "necessary" for the plot, but it was completely necessary for our understanding of the world and it gave us a really great look at a side of Katniss that we do not see anywhere else at all. I loved the way Katniss just relaxed with Gale. The two of them are very free and easy with each other and you can tell they are best friends. Even that moment of tension when Gale talks about leaving - you just knew that was an aberration and that they don't normally bicker. Their teasing and open manner is such a contrast to the stiffness Katniss has when she's around Peeta. Even at their most relaxed (on the roof) they are nowhere near as comfortable with each other as Katniss and Gale are.
I loved the little moments during the reaping, especially when Gale starts mouthing the words of the "special film" they are forced to watch. The way they found each other so easily in the crowd spoke to the connection they have. But at the same time, there was no hint from Katniss that she felt this was anything more than a friendship. Gale's love for her was subtly obvious (if there can be such a thing) and once again Katniss is oblivious. He is her hunting partner, her best friend, and the only one she can trust to take care of her family.
When Gale carries Prim away as Katniss volunteers it just rips your heart out and their goodbye in the small room before Katniss is whisked away to the train made me sob. You can just see Gale put everything in his life on the back burner so he can be the friend she needs in that utterly too short moment they have together.
I understand why they have Gale alone out in the fields at the opening of the Games, but I am so glad we got the flashes of him during the interviews and the cave scenes. His eyes were ridiculously expressive and you could just see him dying inside as Katniss kisses Peeta. He tries so hard not to be angry, but it isn't quite working and it's completely believable.
When Katniss and Peeta return to District 12 I loved that Gale was there with Prim on his shoulders. And the hopeful little smile on his face was so sweet as his eyes met Katniss' across the crowd, just like they did at the Reaping. Which made it even more terrible when Peeta takes Katniss' hand in a very possessive gesture and raises their entwined fingers in victory. The undercurrents of confusion, love, jealousy, and heartbreak between the three of them worked very well.
I wasn't a giant fan of Gale in the books, but Liam Hemsworth sold the part for me. I have always been glad that The Hunger Games wasn't just a love triangle story. The point is not whom Katniss is going to choose, but how the three of them, along with everyone else, are going to survive a world where everyone has turned against them. But, at the same time, the triangle is an important part of the plot and of the character development. We learn to care about all three of them and that is one of the things that makes their final fates so compelling, not just because we're glad our OTP got together.
I stumbled across an absolutely brilliant analysis of the love triangle on tumblr - reposted from Raptorific - so if you are curious or interested, or just love these books and this movie as much as I do, then you should definitely read it. I couldn't have said it better.
So there's my Gale piece. Who to talk about next...