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Movie Review: The Hunger Games

I’m going to warn you once:
DO NOT READ THE REVIEW BELOW IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE. I am not responsible for spoiling the movie/plot if you continue on.

I would love some discussion on the topics mentioned below if anyone wants to comment.

Here’s the thing about The Hunger Games movie: I liked it, but I did not love it.

I read the Hunger Games Trilogy in about a day each. Clearly, I enjoyed the series. So when I saw the trailer for the movie, like pretty much everyone else who read the books, I was excited to see the movie and how they would adapt the book for the screen. And overall, I think they did well. I think that the costumes were great (although if you’re afraid of clowns, I recommend closing your eyes when they are showing large crowds of people at The Capitol). I liked the way that they presented each of the locations: i.e. the poorness of District 12, the opulence of The Capitol and the train. I thought the actors did a fine job of portraying their characters. I loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.

However, there were some crucial things that I think they missed/misrepresented. Here they are:

  • The Mockingjay Pin/ symbolism: First and foremost, she did not get the pin at The Hob. The pin was given to her by District 12’s mayor’s daughter. The book also went into detail about what a mocking jay is and how it would be considered a symbol of rebellion/insubordination by Snow/The Capitol. Looking forward to future movies, they’ll have to explain this better when Katniss becomes  “The Mockingjay.” Otherwise, who cares about a silly little pin from her district?
  • Haymitch: Could they have glossed over his role any more? Some random dude shows up on the train and we’re told he’s the mentor. What does that even mean? Those of us who read the books know that the mentors are former winners and they are brought back yearly to coach the children from their districts and help them gain sponsors, etc. But he just kind of shows up. We see him talking to scary Capitol people and then Katniss gets gifts, so we can infer what his role is but it would have been nice to have them go into more detail about what the point of his being there is. Also, when she gets the gifts, they have notes on them. That wasn’t in the book- she had to know, knowing him as well as she did (not portrayed well in the movie) what his intention was (i.e. didn’t send water because she was close to it (also not in the movie that she almost dehydrates despite Haymitch’s advice that water is your best friend), that kissing Peeta would get more gifts, etc.) His relationship to Katniss and Peeta seemed remote in the movie. He also was key in telling them how to train, to stick together, etc. in the book but not so in the movie. He mentions that he can “work with” star crossed lovers but that’s about it. 
  • Avoxes were not mentioned at all. I think that was an oversight by the filmmakers as the Avox girl’s history with Katniss would further show the cruelty of the Capitol as well as set up for the Avox who helps her out in book 3. 
  • Her Prep Team: they were pretty much extras in this movie, which I felt was odd considering that she spends so much time describing them in the book, they are constantly around and become kind of a big deal in book 3. 
  • Rue: Oh Rue. How I loved you in the book and cried over your death in both the book and the movie. I felt that as stinking adorable as the actress who played Rue was in the movie, the connection between her and Katniss was not really fleshed out. Without Katniss’ inner dialogue about how Rue was her sister’s age and how she really began to take care of her because of that connection, her death was kinda like “that sucks” instead of as devastated as Katniss appears on screen. I loved that she still buried her and showed her that love and respect but it felt so much MORE in the book. The scenes with Rue and Katniss were like 5 minutes in the movie. 
  • Speaking of Rue’s death, I did not like that they cut out the part where District 11 sent Katniss bread as a gift for taking care of Rue when she died. That scene in the book was BEAUTIFUL. (which also goes back to them cutting out Peeta explaining the regional breads to Katniss…) The thought of such a poor community banding together to send a gift to a tribute from another district? The thought makes me a little teary-eyed. Instead they show District 11 going into revolt (did not happen in the book). I get that they’re setting up the sequel, but still…
  • The Mutts: Yeah, I know it would have been really hard to set up the dogs who attack them in the end to really look like the dead tributes but that part in the book was crazy and poignant. I mean honestly, after reading that, did you have any doubt about how evil and manipulative and devious the Capitol was? 
  • Gale. Could he have been any more pointless in this movie? Other than eye candy for girls who are in love with dudes who are dating fallen Disney stars? I’m not a big Gale fan myself. But regardless, if you’re going to set up a love triangle, you should probably set up some storyline with “the other man.” You see them as friends in the beginning, he looks a little sad when he sees Katniss kiss Peeta on TV and then he’s obviously good friends with Prim at the end. The character development was just not there. Plus, without Katniss’ inner struggle with the affections she shows Peeta, how do you know that she even likes Gale back? He mentions having his name in 42 times, but they don’t even really touch on how that is possible. Maybe they should have explained the tesserae more…
  • Katniss’ home life: yeah she told her mom not to zone out like she did when her dad died. But really, did that explain just how much Katniss had to be the head of household? They hint at her dad’s coal mine demise, but they don’t touch at all on how important her dad was to her: how he taught her those songs, how he taught her to hunt, that her bow and jacket were his. How she inherited her singing voice from him. I felt like their relationship was a non-factor in the movie. 
  • Speaking of her dad, after he died, Katniss almost starves to death. Peeta gives her bread when he sees her almost dying. This was in the movie, but I’m not sure the seriousness of her predicament came through. She looked like she was falling asleep and you don’t see that he burned the bread on purpose. Could have been expanded more.
  • They didn’t really talk about what each district does. They talk about the tributes coming in “dressed in attire to represent their districts” but don’t really say what that means. I would have liked to have seen an explanation of the districts to add some depth to the story. Plus each tribute would have strengths based on where they were from (particularly important in the case of Rue, for example). That would have only taken a few minutes.

Overall, I think a little more character development would have really helped his film. Having read the book, you know these things so maybe it’s not a big deal that they don’t expand on them. But if you haven’t, does it suffer? I guess I won’t know since I read it, but I feel that the movie was, as my husband says, “the book on speed.” Everything happened SO FAST that they didn’t really explain some things, they didn’t really flesh out characters and relationships and they changed some things to set up sequels. I get that. I get that the movie was already 2 1/2 hours and to add all this would make it that much longer. But I feel like the movie would have been better if it didn’t leave out some of this stuff. There are more things that I could nitpick about, for sure, but these were the big ones that stuck out to me in the middle of this rant. 

As I said at the start, some discussion is welcomed. Feel free to comment and tell me I’m being too picky or something. That’s okay. 
My sweet husband tells me that the best adaptation of books to movies was the Harry Potter series. So now I’m reading those so that I can be the judge of that. I’m interested to see, considering that I saw the movies first, how that changes my perspective. But, two books down, five to go!
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6 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Hunger Games”

  1. I agree…to a point. As much as I wish more things had been covered, there is just not way they could have gotten everything into the movie without either making it an hour longer or splitting it (which I hate). I've learned after being burned one too many times that I just need to go in expecting the book and movie to be different. In this case, Suzanne Collins' actually wrote the screenplay and said that the movie was to be taken as a companion piece to the book. I actually left the theater feeling pretty good about the movie because I knew going into it that it was going to be different. That said, the few things that bugged me:-The pin. That was huge in the book so I was surprised that they didn't cover it better.-Peeta losing his leg. Yeah, remember that? Fake leg in the rest of the books. -The hoover craft things that come to take you from the Arena. Those played a pretty big role in the book, as they came to pick up the bodies of the fallen tributes. At the end of the first book Peeta and Katniss are separated and taken in two separate hoover crafts and Katniss freaks out because she doesn't know where he is or if he is okay.-I wish Haymitch would have been a little drunker. -Bread from District 11. I think I cried harder during that portion of the book than any other and I wish they had brought that in.Aaron went with me to see the movie (what a good sport) and he has not read any of the books..and probably won't. After assuring him that it was nothing like Twilight he agreed and the first thing he said when the credits rolled was, "So there are three books? I'm coming with you for the next one." He says he didn't feel like he was missing information or that he was being left out of a loop. He said the movie moved quickly, but he felt like he always knew what was going on and understood what was happening and why. His biggest bummer was he saw Rue in the training room and was like, "Oh my God she cute." *pause* "Oh shit, she is going to have a sad death, huh?" I felt like it was the book on speed as well, but I still felt like things were happening as I remembered, although it's been almost a year since I read the first book.Overall I enjoyed it very much and would go see it again. I thought the acting was good and that they each captured their characters well. Currently I am enjoying the soundtrack, which is excellent!

  2. I definitely agree on the things that you mentioned. The loss of a leg is kind of a big deal. And the hovercraft scene at the end I think would have served this movie well as it would play up the Katniss/Peeta love angle they were going for. I get that the movie would have to be super long or split to get everything in there. I hear they're going to split the last book into two movies, which I think sucks (not sure if you read my review of Mockingjay on Good Reads but this comment will make more sense if you did). I am not generally a fan of splitting them but I think in the case of this movie there's just so much backstory that could have helped it along that if they were to split one I think this would be it. Then again that doesn't make for as "epic" of an ending. The bread from District 11 was the thing that made me cry most too. It's just such a beautiful moment that I was shocked that they left it out. Of all the omissions that I mentioned above, that to me was the worst. I think you could understand the movie without reading it (as Aaron said above) and that you wouldd know what was going on but I think a lot of the character development in the books was just lost. I think it stands on it's own, but coming from a perspective of reading it and then seeing it there's just so much subtext missing.

  3. While the movie can definitely stand alone, I feel like I'm going to be explaining a lot of back story to Chris after he sees it. It was like this with Harry Potter as well, to an extent.Mockingjay pin: way more than just a token from her district. I feel like the filmmakers are going to have to expand on that in the next 2 movies, so that the audience understands the significance of the mockingjay, and like you said, why it's a symbol of the rebellion. Tesserae. If I hadn't read the book, I would have had no idea what the criteria was for the drawing. In addition to showing even more cruelty (take more food, increase your odds of dying), it would have shown even more of how Katniss was trying to protect her sister (before her name was even drawn).Gale and Katniss' relationship wasn't fleshed out really well at all. I feel like they did a poor job setting up for the future here… but I guess we'll see how they do that. Things omitted that I wish they hadn't:-The bread from district 11. That was one of my favorite moments in the series. I bawled. Straight. Up. Cried. I HATE that it got left out. This to me was the major flaw in the movie. I was waiting for this scene, and it never came. I fell in love with Rue though, and my heart broke all over again when she died. I feel like they could have expanded on their relationship more, but the bread thing bothers me more. -Peeta's leg. Because missing limbs aren't major at all. -The mutts. I had no idea how/if they were going to pull that off. Maybe it's better that they didn't do it if they didn't feel that they could do it in a way that would actually look good. But yes, I feel like that was a major moment in the book and that it really served to show how evil and diabolical the Capitol is.-Avoxes/Hovercrafts… maybe the Avoxes will be explained in one of the later films. Perhaps what the districts do will be explained later too. Remember that Katniss and Peeta have to go on that district by district tour. Filmwise, that would be a prime time to show what each district does. THOUGH I do feel like it would have been helpful to know in order to understand the strengths of the different tributes (which they didn't really go into that either…). I really enjoyed the movie though. It was better than I thought it would be, in a lot of ways. A lot of what happened was exactly how I pictured it, so much so that there was almost a sense of deja vu. Loved the costuming. And the casting. The scenes in the control room of the games were so awesome. 1) what a SWEET setup and 2) What a great way to show how 'fixed' the games were, and how they manipulated the events to get the results desired. And wasn’t Snow creepier than all get-out?I guess time will tell how much will be fleshed out more in the subsequent movies. I tend to be picky when books I love are adapted to film but I have to look at it from a filmmaker's perspective for a brief second. While they have to do their best to do the book justice, they also have to find a way to appeal to people who haven't read the books (without taking 4 hours to explain everything that needs explaining. Haha). While I definitely think that we could have had more back story, how much of it will make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things? For instance, I care about tesserae. But if tesserae is never mentioned again in the movies, is it really important what the criteria is for putting your name in for the reaping? On the other hand, the mockingjay is important. They better explain that better. :)I wonder how much of what was mentioned in this and previous comments was shot, or in an earlier version of the script, and cut. Maybe test audiences didn't respond well, or it was determined that it would fit better later on. All in all, I wasn't disappointed. And I'm going to see it again this weekend!Wow. If you made it to the end of this I applaud you. Serious. Did not mean to go off for that long.

  4. I agree about the Mutts. I told Aaron when we left that it was weird because in the books they had the faces of the fallen tributes, but I just can't think of a way for them to do that without it looking cheesy and terrible. I'll give them that change.The bread thing just breaks my heart. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it and I think it would have been such a beautiful moment. Of all the things to leave out… I think it was almost more powerful than the movie- sure, they rebel and set District 11 on fire, but showing loyalty between districts openly is huge and plays such a big role later.As much as I hate it, I guess they probably should split the last movie. I feel like it takes away from the movie's ending when they do that though. Lord knows I'll go see Breaking Dawn pt 2, but I have honestly already forgotten what happened in the first part and it only came out in November. I feel like you lose the flow of it and (unless you watch the first movie right before you walk into the theater) you spend a good portion of the film trying to remember how it ties into the movie you are watching. I think we lose a lot not having Katniss' interior monologue and that is a bummer. Luckily there were only a couple of things I had to explain to Aaron, everything he just kind of picked up. I was actually surprised he liked it, but I think once he realized that it was nothing like Twilight he was okay. Although I don’t think Aaron is as concerned with the character development. I would be shocked if he ended up reading the books, but he really did enjoy the movie.

  5. Re: Sandi's comment:Yeah, I also really liked the control room. That was one welcome addition that was not in the book. It was cool to see how the Gamemaker could control all of the aspects of the game. The scenes with Snow and Seneca Crane were another addition to the movie that I don't remember being in the book. Though I did like that they took place while Snow was tending his rose garden, a great set up for the future books. Although Snow wasn't really how I pictured him. I imagined him looking like a male version of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Haha.Re: Nikki's comment:I've not seen many two part finale movies. Actually the only one that I can think of is Harry Potter. And you're right, you do sort of forget things. Although from what I gather from all the commercials I saw for Breaking Dawn, they got married and made a creepy baby. Now you're set. 🙂

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