I was able to view an early version of the Hunger Games DVD and was eager to watch it after reading Hunger Games so recently. While I enjoyed the fast paced novel and seeing how well the casting fit, there were a couple of things I didn’t agree with. It certainly wasn’t because the producers didn’t do a good job, but rather the idea of book expectations will never be matched with a movie. I was happy to see the Utopia of Panem be rendered in real life.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a girl living is a dystopia where she constantly fights for her family’s survival. The government has a political game created to keep its citizens in line where it forces the nation’s citizens to get in a ring and kill each other. When Katniss gets involved, she learns she has to fight for her survival. Major book and movie spoilers ahead!
Fast Paced Book Meant Fast Paced Movie…but It Was Still Too Fast
I had commented on before how quick the Hunger Games book was and came to the conclusion that the movie could equally match this pace without losing too much in the cracks. Unfortunately, this was not the case as the equally fast paced movie lost a lot in the tracks considering that there were a lot of moments where the audience is forced to take a leap of faith, especially if they haven’t read the books. Overall, I think the producers and writers did a good job in painting a picture of Panem, introducing the Games and executing them given their 2 hour window, but I’m sure many book readers like myself weren’t satisfied.
While moving from District 12 to the train to the Capitol seemed fast in the book, it was even faster in film. The movie tries its best to capture some of the culture shock Katniss goes through moving so quickly from area to area, but a 30 seconds pan of the niceness of food doesn’t exactly drill in the point as well as the book does. Naturally, all movie and tv adaptations suffer from this, so it’s not the producers fault as I stated above, but still if it was worth complaining about, I’m going to include it.
Appreciated Seeing How Others Reacted to the Games
On another note, something I liked that the movie did but the book missed out on was the reaction of the events of the book to other people far from Katniss’s point of view. The announcers reacting to certain events, using them to explain points that Katniss thought in her head in the book were excellent and clever ways to relaying important plot points. And I always wondered how District 11 reacted to Rue’s death and the mini revolt was much better emotional satisfaction than sending her bread. And of course they keep the love triangle even more interesting seeing Gale’s reaction to Peeta and Katniss kissing, and even confirmed Haymitch’s more compassionate side as he campaigned for sponsorship packages.
My favorite movie exclusive moments are the multiple conversations between President Snow and Seneca Crane. I’m sure there was a lot of heat and controversy in how to deal with Katniss and seeing President Snow’s philosophy on maintaining order goes nicely with portraying him as a calculating arch villain.
Jennifer Lawrence is Lovely as Katniss…but Something is Missing
The protagonist of the movie, Katniss, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence fits the book description well. I never pictured Katniss to be extremely beautiful nor sexy and despite Jennifer Lawrence being absolutely gorgeous in real life, she capture Katniss pretty well. Since the books are done in first person, it’s difficult to relay the intimacy of how well we get to know Katniss in the book to the movie, but Jennifer Lawrence plays the part well. If you watch her carefully, she thinks as though she’s Katniss, maybe even saying passages in her head that are the book’s verbatim word, but we never actually get to hear them.
Stanley Tucci Kills it as Caeser Flickerman while others Fizzle
I loved seeing how the producers chose the major characters in the book. I’d love to point out first that making Stanley Tucci as Caeser Flickerman was my absolute favorite casting call. He had such a bubbly and absorbing spirit when I watched him, I’m sure I was eating him up like his audience does in the Capitol. In terms of Katniss’s love interests, I thought Gale matched the role well, but I had issues with Peeta. I kinda expected him to be more…chiseled. I thought the man they cast as Cato to fit more like Peeta, and then I even read on IMDB trivia that this was indeed the case where it originally happened. I think I would’ve been happier with that choice, but I guess there’s nothing we can do at this point.
Of course, Elizabeth Banks shines as Effie Trinket, nailing her annoying personality despite her small role and even Woody Harrelson matches up to a decent Haymitch. I’d also like to bring up Cinna, who I must admit didn’t imagine as black, but he does an excellent job as lead stylist. It just makes me think how often books don’t explicitly say: his race is Asian/black/etc and the surprise it encompasses when I see the adaptation.
I Did Not Feel the Same for Rue
As much as it pains me, I didn’t feel the same for Rue as I did in the book as in the movie. It’s likely from the same reason above where the fast paced movie just didn’t have time to fit every detail. And while it still pained me to see a young girl die [something you really don’t see in film these days], it didn’t carry the same weight as it did in the book.
Overall Cool to See in Real Life…but Book Expectations Still Prevail
As in all book adaptations, there are plot holes, quick fixes, and key scene changes. While it’s easy to get angry at how the producers cut much of the stuff we claim to be ‘key points’, it simply has to be done. That’s why I haven’t complained about Madge’s Mockingjay pin, no cough syrup trick, nor the inclusion of messages in the parachutes when Katniss actually had to figure them out in the book. These things are just simply done to make the film work and even viewable to others who don’t know the source material. There’s simply no point in getting upset, but you just need to realize that the book will usually always be better than the movie. Instead of criticizing the filmmakers, you just gotta sit back and appreciate that others cared enough about the same source material to make a movie out of it.
Neatly and Uniquely Stylized
I’m not huge into film terminology or style, but I must say that the movie had its key moments where it really relayed some of the high intense moments. The release of the tributes were hair raising as the soundtrack was the only audible thing. The hallucination scene also went incredibly well and gave a sense of serious LSD. Overall, I’m very happy with some of the style that went with it and look forward to the same approach be made in Catching Fire.
Overview, Final Thoughts, and Catching Fire
Catching Fire is to be released in 2013. I’ve heard the confirmation of Philip Seymour Hoffman taking the roll of Plutarch Havensbee, which I definitely think is a good call. Let’s hope he doesn’t have the same Seneca Crane beard [or do we? lol]. The movie was all right. I’ll always like the book better, but I’ve stated multiple times before, there’s just nothing we can do to change that. I’m sure Catching Fire will follow the same suit or maybe be even better considering they’ve probably heard what the audience thinks of the movie. And if not, they’ve got that $407 million dollar gross to play with.