I was going to write a quick review of the movie, but once I started on Peeta I discovered I had a lot more to say than I thought I did. So I may do a number of these little mini reviews. Because I loved the movie THAT. MUCH.
And, I probably don't need to say this, but SPOILERS AHEAD. PRETTY MAJOR ONES. For both the book and the movie.
I was not one of those that was hesitant when I heard about Josh Hutchinson's casting. I loved him in Bridge to Terabithia and reading Suzanne Collins' take on him as Peeta made me confident he could fill the role. I was right. I loved his rapport with Haymitch and Caesar Flickerman. When he follows Haymitch out of the dining car and Katniss is just exasperated and Peet says, "I'll talk to him," fit their personalities well. It was a nice nod to the gift for language that Peeta has and how he uses those powers of persuasion to his advantage. It was the same thing when he sees the Capitol for the first time and how he plays up to the crowd as they pull into the city. Just right (even though in the previews I feared that was going to be overdone).
The chariot scene was fantastic (the fire was a little underwhelming, but actually looked better during my second viewing). The way Peeta gets Katniss to hold hands and raise them up was brilliantly done and you could see how the crowd just focused in on them.
I truly believed that he cared about Katniss. His eyes whenever he looked at her? *sigh* Totally bought that whole side of things. One of the best moments in their developing relationship was when Katniss thought he had eaten the berries and she flips out on him. That glimmer of hope in his eyes that maybe she was actually falling in love with him? Heartbreakingly real.
So much that I loved, but there were a few nitpicks I had as well.
I felt like he was too emotional as they were leaving District 12. I don't even really know why, but it annoyed me that he looked like he was about to burst into tears and then was fine once they were on the train. I also felt like his pronouncement of love for Katniss fell flat. Like I said, his joking with Flickerman was spot on, but I just didn't get the emotional pull that I expected when he says she came with him.
And I wasn't a big fan of the cave scene. I liked Peeta's openness with Katniss (though he seemed a little stalkerish when he repeated "Every day"), but without Katniss' reciprocation the scene felt a little overdone like HEY LOOK HE REALLY DOES LIKE HER and I wanted to see more softening of Katniss. But you did get some of these great moments where you could just feel to the depth of your core that Peeta is in love with this girl and she is so oblivious. And I loved Haymitch's note and the way Katniss kissed Peeta felt like it was taken straight from the book.
I also would have liked to see a bit more of his side of the arena. I understand that we mostly get Katniss because that's how the books were written, but in the novel we get the replay after the games so Katniss can see the way he teamed up with the Careers in order to protect her. In the movie we never really know for sure why he was helping them track her. And that was a huge thing for me.
And finally, he seriously healed over night? I could buy that the wound was significantly better, but not that his fever and infection had disappeared so quickly. I know it would have affected the fight scene with Cato on the cornucopia (which I loved), and I know that it was already a 2 1/2 hour movie, but for me, the scenes of Katniss screaming as she pounded on the door while they rush the seriously wounded Peeta away were key to understanding how much she had come to care for him without even realising it.
I know this makes it sound like there was more I didn't like than I did, but that's not true. These are just things that I would have liked to see or would have liked to see developed a little further. Someone on another review commented that it should have been done as like a 5 hour miniseries. This is a good idea. But for the time they had, I thought this movie was absolutely fantastic. I've seen it twice and I would go see it again at the drop of a hat. Can't wait to own it so I can watch it whenever I want!