The Hunger Games is one of those books that stay with you long after you read it. Suzanne Collins manages to write a character so strong, with a world and plot so vivid, it was just begging to be turned into a movie. Now in general, the book to movie transition usually leaves a lot to be desired from the movie. Take for example the Harry Potter Series, even with the last movie was split into two books, I felt as if key emotional points, and just some of my favorite points in general were glossed over, rushed, or left out altogether. After reading the day by day, minute by minute updates from The Hunger Games movie I had such high hopes, and while I feel like Gary Ross got the tone and the world of the Hunger Games right, it got the characters, the emotion and the heart all wrong.

The Hunger Games

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Haralson, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley

Premise: The country has been divided into 12 Districts ruled by one, all-powerful Capitol. After the districts tried, unsuccessfully, to rebel against the Capitol, the Capitol started a tradition called The Hunger Games, where every year 2 kids from every district will be chosen at random to go into an arena and fight to the death until one victor remains. To make things worse, this whole event is glamorized, publicized, and played on live television as some kind of cruel reality show that everyone is forced to watch. Katniss Everdeen, who has spent years providing for her hungry family finds herself thrown into the games when she takes the place of her sister who was chosen at random. She also finds herself up against a boy from her district her helped her out long again when she was on the brink of starvation. Now Katniss has to play the Capitol’s game and figure out how to survive.

My Review: Judging the movie on its own, I thought it was entertaining and it exceeded my expectations. The world of District 12 and the World of the Capitol were well-thought out and very detailed. And Gary Ross created great dramatic moments with the reaping and the countdown to the games. And no matter how glossed over, the hacking to death of kids is still brutal, which is the point of it all. Yes, this type of thing is glamorized and in the future possibly celebrated, but it’s still hard to swallow watching a kid being murdered by another kid, no matter how desensitized we’ve become to violence.

As for the cast, most of the characters were introduced and then pushed aside for the performance of Jennifer Lawrence, our heroine, our Katniss Everdeen. As much as I convinced myself that Lawrence was the wrong choice for such a beloved character, I now eat my words (they taste like regret). Jennifer Lawrence was the absolute right choice. She brought out the best and worst parts of Katniss, showing vulnerability and strength at the same time. The problem is Lawrence was so outstanding she far overshadowed the rest of her cast members. Elizabeth Banks was delightful as Effie, transforming herself into a completely different person and Lenny Kravitz played Cinna with a cool, kindness that I’m really proud he was able to capture. I was, however, disappointed in Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Woody Haralson as Haymitch. These two are essential to the world of Hunger Games, but their development felt as rushed and glossed over. Peeta didn’t make much of impression to me. He wasn’t given enough chance to show us how likeable he was, and how infatuated he was with Katniss.

And that’s where we get to the problem, because as much as we’d like to judge this movie on its own, we can’t.

The reason why we don’t get to know these other characters, is because with the movie we’re not inside Katniss’ head. In the book, we like or hate or tolerate these characters because of the way Katniss relates, and thinks, and feels about them. We like Peeta because no matter how many times Katniss tries to push him away, or pretend she doesn’t care about him, he’s still the kind, sweet, boy she met, and knew, through and through. We tolerate drunken Haymitch probably because though Katniss despises him so. He also becomes one of the only male adult figures present in her life trying to help her survive. She hates him because they’re so similar. And for that, we love Haymitch. The movie got none of these things right, and that’s because they removed us from inside Katniss’ head. And no matter how great of an actress Jennifer Lawrence is, it can’t make up for lack of development and performance by Josh Hutcherson and Woody Haralson. And while it all can’t be blamed on them as actors, Elizabeth Banks tried to put as much as she could into her small, but effecting presence as Effie, Peeta and Haymitch just fell by the wayside.

While I understand it’s impossible to fit everything in a 400+ page book into a 2 hour movie, I feel like the things they did cut, or overlook, or rush though were vital to the Katniss’ character and to The Hunger Games themselves. Plus, this movie missed one of the most important parts of the book. One of the biggest moments in the book happens at the end, and the movie missed the opportunity for that drama, that game changing moment. It would have been the perfect cliffhanger to the movie as it was for the book and yet the movie choked. I will talk about all this in my spoiler section below.

Overall, I’m proud that Gary Ross, and the producers didn’t “Hollywood” up the movie too much, but I’m disappointed that key, cinematically worth elements were left out of my beloved story. There was also no urgency to anything, Peeta was supposed to be on the brink of death, Katniss was supposed to be willing to do anything to win, even trick and manipulate Peeta, Katniss herself was to almost die in order to save Peeta. But there was just no urgency. Nothing at stake. Everything was glossed over. This movie needed more gore, more blood and needed to be more gritty. I know it’s for a teen audience, but give them credit, if they want to see it, they’ll find a way.

I just hope Gary Ross ups his game for Catching Fire. This movie is definitely worth checking out and I’m totally glad it blew that piece of crap Twilight out of the water. Maybe upon second glance, I can sit back and enjoy the movie better, but I have to say I’m disappointed.

 

My Rating: 3 ½ possibly 4 Stars. (out of 5)

 

 



***spoilers**

SPOILERS! DO NOT ENTER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK! OR SEEN THE MOVIE! SPOILERS!

Stop reading if you have not read the book yet or seen the movie. If you’ve done both then read on for what I liked and didn’t like about this movie and essential things I felt were left out that were important to the story.



 

 

 

 

 

What The Movie Got Wrong

1)      The #1 thing the movie got wrong, and Entertainment Weekly agrees with me: The big cliffhanger at the end where it is revealed that Katniss was just pretending to love Peeta in order to survive the games. That ending moment, where Peeta realizes it was all a lie and walks away from her, after all they went through, was a great moment. It was a stab to the heart for everyone.

“It was all for the Games,” he says. “How you acted.”
“Not all of it,” I say, tightly holding onto my flowers.
“Then how much? No, forget that. I guess the real question is what’s going to be left when we get home?” he says.
“I don’t know. The closer we get to District Twelve, the more confused I get,” I say. He waits, for further explanation, but none’s forthcoming.
“Well, let me know when you work it out,” he says, and the pain in his voice is palpable.

2. The Love Story between Peeta and Katniss real and not real: Peeta was on the brink of death and Katniss risks her own life to save him. She nurses him back to health, she hunts for him, and she takes care of him. But in the movie, his leg wound looked like nothing more than a cut. He didn’t look like he was dying. Then, when it came time for Katniss to get the medicine, she just sneaks out while he’s sleeping. What about the fact that he begs her not to go by threatening to follow her screaming and yelling? What about her drugging him not because she had to or for the game but because she didn’t want him to die? What about at the end, when it comes down to only one of them being able to survive and Peeta rips off the bandage holding his leg together willing to sacrifice his life so she can live? We didn’t get any of that. Nothing was life and death, nothing was crucial.

3. The Dark Comedy in the book. The movie wasn’t funny. The book was funny. KAtniss was so sarcastic and feisty and had a fire in the movie. The movie’s version of Katniss was more sullen and determined and tough but she didn’t really have the snarky spark the book Katniss’ had.

4. Josh Hutcherson and Peeta Mellark. Sorry, I love Josh Hutcherson, I really do. But he was the WRONG choice for Katniss. Some could argue they didn’t give his character enough to do in the movie. But I think the fault also lies in the actor. He needs to fight to give himself a presence even in a very small role. If Hutcherson was such a big fan of the book, even with a minimized role he could have given Peeta more charisma and charm, but Josh was lacking all of that.

5. There was no urgency. No one was on the brink of death. No one was on the brink of starvation. No one was on the brink of dehydration. There was no danger. No threat. Everything felt too easy. Nothing was dire. No one was hungry.

Things The Movie Got Right

  1. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
  2. The lavishness of the Capitol
  3. Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. How excellent was he?
  4. Those scenes between Seneca Crane and Snow. I’m glad they were added.
  5. Humanizing Cato. Cato was just a kid, also afraid to die. Also trying to survive and I’m glad the movie picked up on that. These kids aren’t villains, they’re just trying to do what Katniss is doing and survive and go home to their families.
  6. The Reaping. I thought the reaping scene was really effective and Gary Ross built up the drama and horror of it all really well. When Prim was being yanked away from Katniss kicking and screaming, I could barely even hold it together.
  7. Effie.
What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? How did you feel about this movie? Did it stay true to the book. Did it satisfy you? If you have not read the book did it confuse you?

Happy Hunger Games Everyone!

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Comments
  1. Jeyna Grace says:

    I agree and disagree.

    I think the film was an excellent adaptation of the book. One of the best I’ve seen so far, and i would have given it a 4.5 or 5/5.

    And I think Lawrence was a horrible choice for Katniss. She doesnt even come close to the Katniss i imagined. On the other hand, Hutcherson was the closes to the character of the book. I accepted him as Peeta. But i could not accept Lawrence as Katniss.

    The rest of the casting was also wrong.. Haymitch is suppose to have a belly! He’s an alcoholic! Alcoholics arent fit!

    But overall, despite the fact that I doubted the film because of the casting, I enjoyed it. It met my expectations in the adaptation and I did set a pretty high one.

  2. Katie Wolf says:

    totally agree that peeta wasn’t good… i love love love his character in the book… but couldn’t feel it in the movie as much, which is just so sad!

  3. A Fan says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS REVIEW. you PERFECTLY captured exactly how I was left feeling at the end of the movie. I did not dislike the movie, but I was so unsatisfied leaving the theater. They had so much to work with; they could have done so much more. I’m blaming it on the rating – though it was a novel meant for teens, it is ultimately a very adult subject warranting adult images. Also, I agree, the screenplay made it so that all the inner emotions and intensity were lost and no characters were developed. anyway, thank you for verbalizing everything I would say I liked and disliked when recommending this film to others. needless to say, if anyone is a fan of the film without having read the novels, GO OUT AND GET THE BOOKS NOW. they will seriously blow you away and leave you wondering how you ever liked the film as much.

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