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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Leeard's Hunger Games Review

At first, I honestly didn’t know if I liked the movie or not. While Jennifer Lawrence was AMAZING as Katniss, the movie changed a lot (which I didn’t like). It also added some things (which I did like), especially adding Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith as color-commentators. It felt very realistic and helped bring a little depth to the movie. Since the books are told from Katniss' perspective, the reader doesn't get to see this happening. The first book is about the arena and then the next books are about the revolution. The added scenes with Snow and District 11 starting to rebel will make the transition from arena to revolution smoother for viewers, which made viewers see why Snow was so concerned about Katniss and so angry that she and Peeta lived. In these scenes, you can see the danger that too much hope can topple an empire.

I plan on seeing the movie again soon to get more concrete feelings about it. The sets and incarnations of Panem were uninspired. In fact, Panem itself wasn’t spelled out enough for new viewers. It would be hard to buy this premise if the world and history of Panem weren’t fleshed out enough to make it believable. In the books, this obviously wasn’t a problem. The movie could have used a little more world building to get us interested in the when and where of the story.

Cinna could have used more screen time because we both love him. Lenny Kravitz was a good choice. Most of the arena stuff was good, however the effect wasn’t dark or dreadful enough. And what was up with the dogs? Those were less terrifying and more annoying (and not the muttations described in the book AT ALL). I understand that they were trying to avoid an R rating, but that was an important moment in the book. Another good thing was the way the love triangle wasn’t front-and-center. It was clear that the boys were not the heroine’s main concern and her struggle was about more than romance. For now, I am a little disappointed. It could have been better. With all the talent and care they took, it should have been.

I really don't think this movie is for people who haven't read the book. The entire time I was watching the movie, I kept thinking "would I have understood this if I didn't know the source material?" Too many times, the answer was no. Honestly, the fact that I was able to think that and wasn't too busy watching the movie shows just how much I wasn't invested in the movie. I couldn't put the books down, reading them during work and only getting a few hours of sleep in between, and I didn't feel that during the movie.

I literally can't emphasize this enough, though: Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much the perfect Katniss. From her first line, she sold it. Again, I'm planning on seeing this movie again, so my feelings may change. I hope they do; I wanted to love this movie as much as I love the books, but right now, I'm just disappointed.

Movie grade: C+


  1. Ok clearly I read your blog backwards :D

    I don't agree at all. I don't think they changed a lot. I think they hemmed in certain parts to keep the pacing moving, but they didn't change it. They didn't spend days and days in the cave because there wasn't time for that. There wasn't a long time with Rue because there wasn't time. I felt like they told the story appropriately in the medium they used. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, despite knowing what happens.

    The 2nd time wasn't much different.

    And for the record, I dragged my dad to the 2nd time (who hasn't ready the books) and he said he understood what was going on the whole time. So there! ;)

  2. I obviously didn't feel the same way :)

    You said twice that they didn't have time to do that. I think that's where a lot of what I didn't like about the movie comes into play; they cut out Madge - who cares? That's not what I'm talking about. There wasn't a lot of time with Rue - I do care. The whole reason I was a sobbing mess when Rue died in the book (um spoiler?) was because we had gotten to know and love her through Katniss. I definitely didn't get that from the movie, even though I know that's what we're supposed to feel. Changing things like who gave Katniss the mockingjay pin, when Peeta threw Katniss the bread, Katniss telling Peeta to throw the rock during training? Fine. I can accept that it doesn't hurt the plot or movie. Changing my emotional connections to characters? I disapprove.

    I don't think it's a particularly difficult movie to "understand", plot-wise; that wasn't the right word to use in the post. It's more that I don't think I would've felt the same way about the characters had I not read the books first. One of my friends is reading the books now that she's seen the movie, so I'll see what she thinks.

    1. I agree with that, about the emotional connection to the characters. I suppose I see it somewhat differently... to me, it is never acceptable to see a movie without reading the book (with VERY few exceptions). So I'm truthfully not all that interested in the audience who missed out on those connections because the movie didn't have time to make it for them. The first book has been out since 2008 and the buzz has been huge for over a year. I figure, if they were interested, they would've read it. If not, then yes, they do lose a certain aspect when they see the movie.

      I still loved Rue and cried like a baby when she died :)

      And yes, I know my view is a bit harsh but... Everyone knows the book is better 99.9% of the time, so if you choose to see the movie, you're going into it with the expectation that you're going to miss out on a bit. I truly believe it is the best book-to-movie I've ever seen :)

    2. See, I don't think enjoyment of a movie should depend on whether or not a person has read a book. They are two different mediums. There have been numerous times in my life where I've heard about a movie, found out it was a book, and decided to see the movie first regardless. Depending on the topic, seeing a 2-hour movie will help me figure out if I want to take significantly more than 2 hours to read the book.

      You don't have to care if the non-readers enjoyed the movie as much as you did, but the movie studios do.

      I personally think there are much better examples of books-to-movies: The Godfather, Goodfellas, Scarface, The Princess Bride, Schindler's List, The Shining, Jaws, Bridget Jones' Diary, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (original movie), just to name a few.

  3. I can see your point. Schindler's List touched audiences in ways that the book couldn't and LotR was much more user-friendly as a movie than a book and both managed to tell the story and keep connections to the characters.

    But I wouldn't say Lord of the Rings was a better movie. They left out some great characters, and yet enhanced the importance of others (I can't stand Liv Tyler or all that is Arwen). I know she was a hook for the female fans out there, but it wasn't necessary and was downright annoying for some.

    Should they have spent more time with Rue? Absolutely. She's an adorable character and an integral part of Katniss's character. I also think they should have done better with the dogs, Katniss DEFINITELY should've pulled her bow on Peeta at the end, among other things. But as I was watching the movie, I wasn't thinking these things. I was anxious and worried and tense about the coming events, as if I didn't know what was going to happen, or worse, because I DID know what was going to happen.

    Unlike most of the movies you listed (LotR excepted for sure), Hunger Games will most likely be a major success because of the success of the books, not standing on its own. But the same story that drew us all in to the books holds true in the movies, I believe, and that sells.

    After all, it sold the most pre-sold tickets of any non-series move in all time. It was the largest non-summer opener and something like the 3rd largest opening weekend. Better than Twilight... (which yes, I also went to see opening night. I'm a sucker for YA Fiction!)

    1. I say LOTR was better for the overall experience. I didn't miss Tom Bombadil, haha. HOWEVER I did miss a lot of the dialogue from the books, especially in the third movie where the lines got stupid. The extended versions of the movies are better. Liv Tyler was meh, you're right.

    2. Oh, I contributed to the massive opening, and I'm glad I did. I love midnight releases. I was just disappointed in the movie. Ern pointed out to me that it probably had something to do with the fact that I was unnaturally obsessed with the books and finding out information on the movie before it was released.

    3. This is true. She sent me Hunger Games related pics, interviews, or news every day. Nothing can measure up to that.

    4. Hahah that's what my cousin and I did... but after the epic disappointment of Harry Potter, I expected this to be a Twilight (first movie) kind of movie. Low budget, bad acting, horrible pacing, timing, directing, everything. Basically, it couldn't do well. The fact that it didn't suck beyond suckage meant I loved it.

      Still rocked though! T-Minus 19months to Catching Fire!