By now, everyone knows The Hunger Games movie is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic. It is set in the future on what we’re lead to believe is North America; it is now called Panem, after an uprising.
The land is divided into twelve districts, each with specific trades: coal mining, engineering, agriculture, etc. They all surround the Capitol. As a reminder for the country's uprising years ago, the Capital holds an annual event in which two Tributes, one boy and one girl, are forced to fight to the death, until only ONE remains. It’s mandatory viewing for the districts and is known as The Hunger Games.
I was fortunate enough to have been part of a roundtable last week with producer, Nina Jacobson, so I knew the adaption was to be loyal to the book, with minor adjustments to the storyline due to time constraints and the necessity to build relationships quickly.
When 12-year old Primrose Everdeen is selected through The Hunger Games lottery, her sister, 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers as the Tribute. She will represent District 12, one of the poorest districts in the land. Like the book, the movie follows Katniss from her barely-getting-by life at home with her Mom, sister and best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), through her journey to the eccentric Capital and into the action-packed arena where she must do all she can to survive.
The looming question remains. Was director Gary Ross able to pull it off? Was he able to bring the book to life to meet the visual Suzanne Collins wrote so well and deliver the same powerful emotional TKO?
I read the book. And to be fair, it was still fresh in my mind, finishing it one week before the film’s release. I still found the movie exciting. There were moments I was on the edge of my seat. Like the book, Ross was able to take a moment, build the tension, and then capture it all with perfection.
I cried. Okay, more than once I cried.
I laughed. Outloud.
My hand was to my mouth in dread as Katniss was sucked up the tube for the entrance into the arena. There was the moment with Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and then Wham! Life as she knew it was over as she stood on the stand, in the arena, waiting for the gong.
Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the male Tribute from District 12, was likable. I shot him the stink eye when I saw him in the pack and then my heart melted and raced during the scenes between Peeta and Katniss…starting on the train ride to the Capital right up to the end.
We all know the book is violent. Here, on the big screen, there is gore. It’s done minimally. The camera becomes part of the action as if we are in its place taking it all in within seconds. This is not to say it’s not there. More than 20 deaths took the screen and there was violence and bloodshed. I didn’t, nor after seeing it, would I, take my kiddos to the film.
Jennifer Lawrence did an outstanding job of capturing the spirit of Katniss. She brought her to life and, for me, gave her much more dimension and warmth than I read in the pages.
One of the things that really wowed me was the all-star cast of The Hunger Games. Maybe I was just so caught up in the excitement that I had no idea I’d be seeing Woody Harrelson (Haymitch), and Elizabeth Banks (Effie). I was impressed by Donald Sutherland’s interpretation of President Snow and Wes Bentley was among my favorites as Games Maker, Seneca Crane. They all were stellar in those roles.
There were a few changes between the book and the film, as I’ve mentioned. Some I loved like being able to leave the arena from Katniss’ perspective and see what’s happening as a whole within the Districts, The Capital, and even among the other Tributes. Some of the changes I wasn’t a fan of, like the moments leading up to Rue’s death (SPOILER ALERT)–I missed Katniss screaming she was coming to let the Tributes know she was coming for them. To me this was such a powerful statement in the book. It symbolized so much for Katniss, in my opinion. I was saddened to see it omitted. I also didn’t think the ending was as powerful when Cato comes from the forest nor the Cornucopia battle.
I am impressed the movie was loyal to the book. The music was minimal. There was silence when you could just imagine what was going through Katniss’ mind. It was a thrilling movie that served the book’s characters well.
I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel…and The Hunger Games did an outstanding job in setting up that story line!
I agree, I liked the movie. I thought it was done in a tasteful way. There is gore and bloodshed but it's not as violent as it could have been I guess. It made you full of emotion which is great that a movie can achieve that. I want to go see it again already. And now I have to finish the rest of the books. The movie left off in a way that has me curious as to what happens next!! Can't wait for the next movies in the series.
Great article. I loved the movie as well. I agree the movie was close to the book but it did miss some key scenes to me. I would add that they made it seem like when they got back home all was well. But they didn't show the fall out between Katniss and Peeta when she reveled that she was just pretending to love him in the arena and at the crowning. He was furious and although he does put on a show with her when they arrive at the train station in District 12 there is major tension between them in the start of Catching Fire. I also agree with the final scene it was so different in the book and I think they missed the key part Peeta was near death in the book and when they took them in the hovercraft Katniss was so upset seeing him on the table. She was screaming her head off worried that he wouldn't make it after all that had happened.
I myself had never read the books. I thought the movie was a great idea. I just wish it was done with maybe adults? I think in the world we live in today... a movie about kids killing each other to win; maybe wasn't such a good idea. Who's to say one child that already is having social problems, might have not sparked an idea from this. I was very upset. I felt this is why we have so much going on with kids now. There is too much access to these kinds of things. There were a lot of children in our theater. Ones even under 10! I think it was a good movie, nicely directed and such.. just maybe the concept bothered me a tad
I loved the books and I am so glad that the movie was loyal to the books. There were minor tweaks here and there that did not affect the story line too much overall, but I think were probably needed for people who wanted to see the movie but hadn't yet read the books. I found myself (and other in the theater) crying at least a couple times during the film, and even though they omitted the part where Katniss screams out that she's coming to get the others (during the death scene), I think it may have added to the moment. It made you focus on the fact that Rue's dying saddened her at the moment more then angered her. I'd love to see it again.
I read all three books a week before the movie came out and was really excited for the release. Overall, I satisfied with the movie as a whole. I thought that there could've been more build-up of the relationship ruse between Katniss and Peeta (in the book Haymitch instructed them to train together and never leave each other's side; wasn't really apparent). There were other things I felt that were kind of glossed over, but given the time constraints were understandable. I also liked how the movie left the arena so that we could see things that were happening with the Gamemakers and President Snow. It gave a different point of view not included in the book. Oh, and the end for the head Game maker was fantastic. I can't wait for the next movie.
My 12 and 13 year olds just saw The Hunger Games and loved it! Best movie other than Harry Potter my daughter says. By the way, have you seen the violence in these other movies, like Harry Potter or even in the cartoons and nick shows kids watch? Violence is out there and its up to us as parents to talk to our kids about things like this. This book can lend to some really great lessons about segregation, poverty, violence and love, just depends on what you get out of it and what you do with it!
Yes... the concept of The Hunger Games is VERY disturbing, but somehow the books were still very readable, and I actually flew right through them. I enjoyed that the movie was fairly true to the books - which are fresh in my mind, since I just finished the series - but it was also quite noticeable to me when things were skipped. I know there isn't enough time in a movie to cover everything in a book, and that it's hard to change the written words into real-life action, so I feel that all things considered it was well done. Kudos to everyone involved with the project, and I do look forward to the sequels.