Is The Hunger Games Movie Worth the Hype?

   By jonbonjovious  Mar 26, 2012

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!

Make a Comment

moonface by moonface | Richmond Hill, NY
Apr 07, 2012

i saw the movie. Its really good, a bit dull at the beginning, but its gets better. However, they didnt follow the plot. They changed so many stuff and deleted things that occured in the book. In my perspective its better to read the book than watch the movie. But the movies good as well...but the books GREAT :)

Page55 by Page55 | Schoolcraft, MI
Apr 05, 2012

Great book, good movie. The area 12 scenes that were filmed "shaky" and out of focus were hard on my eyes and difficult to watch. Excellent performance by Jennifer Lawrence. Peeta seemed weaker in the movie than in the book. Overall a good movie, glad I saw it in the theater.

KelleeR2008 by KelleeR2008 | Midwest City, OK
Apr 04, 2012

I had eagerly awaited this movie for months, I had not read the books. This movie was 2 hours and 15 minutes long and none of it ever got boring. I loved the way it was done with such tenderness in some scenes. I thought the young lady that played Katniss did so remarkably well! The cast was great and even Woody Harrelson was convincing in his role. The movie was worth my time and money. I think its worth seeing but its not for young children.

delynnr by delynnr | Johnstown, CO
Mar 31, 2012

To the person who commented that this movie should take place with adults has either not read the books or read them and missed the entire point. The kids compete to the death to keep the adults from revolting. The threat that any child could be taken and forced to fight to the death is THE point of the novels. A society that is kept hungry, desperate and with a very real threat held over their head is a society that is not revolting against the capitol. Yes it is disturbing, it is meant to be. Unfortunately this is a tried and true method used by dictatorships throughout history: Louis the XIV did it in France, Franco in Spain, Castro in Cuba, and North Korea STILL has this type of government.. The twist and warning in these novels is that it could happen anywhere. American adults might stage a revolt if mostly adults would bear the brunt of the causalities, but would you revolt if your 13 year old would be specifically targeted?

AmandaJay3 by AmandaJay3 | BLOOMFIELD, NJ
Mar 27, 2012


mintmom by mintmom | Louisville, KY
Mar 27, 2012

I finished the book two days before seeing the movie and was pleased overall with the interpretation. The plot is very disturbing and I was surprised that parents had brought their young children. I assume these parents did not read the book or understand the content.

ferola9 by ferola9 | LIBERTY, NY
Mar 27, 2012

Thanks for the article! I am a huge fan of the books, and I was fearful that the movie would take away some of the greatness of the story. So glad to hear that it was good! Looking forward to seeing the Hunger Games this weekend with my nephew.

Mar 27, 2012

Thanks for posting this article. I had no idea what this "Hunger Games" everyone was taking about was at all. I was like what's the big deal? Lol. So now I at least know what it's about. I'll probably check it out as my boyfriend and I watch all types of movies and love movies in general. I just hope that it lives up to the hype for me as well, because people are making a pretty big deal about it.

allyson by allyson | SOUTH ELGIN, IL
Mar 27, 2012

We went as a family. Myself, hubby, 15 yr. old (girl), 13 yr. old (boy) and my 10 year old (boy). My kids loved it. Hubby and I thought it was good but not great. Little too much for my younger two boys I thought, but then again, their video games are probably worse. I think the rating is appropriate.

maineac by maineac | STANDISH, ME
Mar 27, 2012

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.

dawniep by dawniep | CONYERS, GA
Mar 27, 2012

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!

vl2smith by vl2smith | ROCHESTER, NY
Mar 26, 2012

A good movie, but the violence to young children in the film was very disturbing.

Shonna1782 by Shonna1782 | Riverbank, CA
Mar 26, 2012

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.

KimIndy by KimIndy | AVON, IN
Mar 26, 2012

My 16 yr old daughter read the book and loved the movie. She said there were only a couple minor details changed but overall was very close to the book.

harleyqn75 by harleyqn75 | HILLSBORO, OR
Mar 26, 2012

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.