I’d like to mention that I live in a box. By this, I mean that I don’t have TV, rarely listen to the radio, and generally have no idea what’s going on in TV or what’s coming out in the movies. So, when I read The Hunger Games trilogy in January/February of this year, I had no clue it was going to be a movie. For that matter, I only figured it out maybe 3 weeks ago when I caught half an ad on the radio.
So, having just read the books, I was excited when another couple asked us if we’d like to join them to see it in theaters.
The last movie I saw on opening weekend was “Jurassic Park.”
So, while I generally stay with discussing books and writing, I’m going to make an exception today, in light of this rather unusual event in my life, and discuss the movie as it relates to the book.
IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK OR SEEN THE MOVIE, DON’T CONTINUE READING BECAUSE THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS AFTER THIS LINE. OKAY??
Often, I am not pleased by the way a book makes its way onto the screen. I may have pictured a character with different hair or voice than what the casting director/makeup people came up with. For me, this can be a major stumbling block to enjoying a movie because I have trouble relating to this new person. Another major problem for me is when I feel the movie departs excessively from the book, leaving out sections or adding things that change the story.
At the beginning of the movie, I thought both of these were going to be the case, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The biggest con of the movie, in comparison to the book, is that by nature of the medium, it is told in the 3rd person while the book is in 1st person. This is also the movie’s biggest pro.
I felt that a great deal of the book had to do with Katniss’s reaction to events. There was a lot of mental struggle with questions like, “what do I need to do,” and, “how is this going to impact others?” Most notably, this pertains to Peeta and Gale as every action in the arena that is romantically pro-Peeta is also anti-Gale. The movie did attempt to capture this, but there is only so much they can do in a limited amount of time. Given that, without doing something like having Katniss narrate over video footage, there’s a limit to how much they can show of her internal thoughts – especially given that there’s no one she can really confide in. After all, being alone in the world/arena is part of the story.
That said, the film took the opportunity to exploit the 3rd person aspects. We saw things in this movie that weren’t brought in until later books in the series. I think this will make the later movies flow together more naturally than what happened with the books. Moreover, none of these “extras” fundamentally changed the story. For instance, President Snow was much more involved in the movie than in the first book. Also, there is more time spent on the Gamemakers (and I thought the game’s “central command” was a neat set). Some of these things we simply couldn’t see when limited to Katniss’s view, but really lent a lot to the overall story of the trilogy and will likely come in handy in the next installments.
Another great example is when we see the Games as a viewer, either watching the Districts watch, or seeing it “in studio” with Caesar Flickerman (whose hair was just the shade of blue I’d pictured). The later view really honed in on how much this was “reality TV” to those in the Capitol.
So, overall, I think they did a good job using the medium to add in things that weren’t able to be seen directly in the book, and this compensated for some of the things that were lost due to lack of direct insight into the protagonist’s thoughts.
While I’m not one to usually comment on things like makeup, I thought there was good attention to detail, both in the makeup, and in making sure it was caught on film in an emphatic way, to highlight the strange tastes of the Capitol’s citizenry, which was quite a sight.
There were two things that irked me somewhat.
First, a good chunk of the book occurred before the reaping and a major chunk occurred before the Games got started. The movie almost dropped us into the reaping immediately, and spent a lot less time on the build-up to the Games. This meant that we saw a lot less of Gale, although we did get to see glimpses of him during the Games. If I hadn’t read the books, I might not have picked up just how important he is. It also meant that the prep-team was mostly lost except for Cinna.
Secondly, although I can find no major reason why they should have left it in, I was disappointed when they omitted the references to the lamb stew.
Overall, the movie stayed fairly true to the book. Some liberties were taken, but I think those were minor and primarily to keep the movie under 3 hours.
After I published my thoughts about the movie as it compares with the book, I kept feeling I should mention that I had a strong sense of “where have I seen that character before” for both Haymitch and Peeta. Now, I’m pretty much blind-as-a-bat when it comes to actors/actresses, so it wasn’t that. More, I felt I had seen the CHARACTER before. After racking my brain for nearly a day, I’ve finally come up with the similarities I was seeing.
Haymitch’s character reminded me of Eric Northman from True Blood (long haired version). As for Peeta, he reminded me strongly of the character Ryan Atwood from the TV show The O.C. For Haymitch, it was the hair/facial hair combo. For Peeta, it was the hair and way of moving. Anyway, I thought I’d share. Is it just me, anybody else feel this way?
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