The Hunger Games Film: Faithful Retelling of the Book

I literally just got home from watching “The Hunger Games.” If you are wondering how and why it took me so long, I was waiting for a cousin to come into town so we could go together. I guess blood does run thicker than water, which you will get visual proof of in the film. Believe me their is plenty of running blood. But that shouldn’t shock anyone who’s read the books. But where the films succeeds is that it transcends the violence and the characterization that the story is just “kids killing other kids.”

My initial thoughts were that I was glad the movie didn’t succumb to the temptation to function as an action movie. I thought every character correlated to my view of them in the book, except for Prim who wasn’t pretty enough (I’m sure the actress is beautiful, but they made her look plain.) I completely disagreed with the new york times review which wanted a better performance from Jennifer Lawrence and more intensity in the film.  I view both as impossible. I cannot imagine a more intense experience or a more perfect portrayal of Katniss. I also thought is was completely inappropriate for Manohla Dargis to suggest that the curvy Lawrence wasn’t thin enough for the role. It was cloaked in the guise of saying she didn’t look hungry enough, but I think it had more to do with unfortunate status quo views on beauty and hollywood.

The movie closely follows the book, by Suzanne Collins. In fact, in my group of four we only noticed one incongruity. While the book relies on Katniss’ constant internal assessments, the movie used the reality tv format to explain these things. Which I thought was a smart and effective choice. The best two things were that the movie embraced the idea of show don’t tell. In particular, Rue, Haymitch, Peeta, and even the stoically faced Katniss’ emotions were clear on the actor’s faces. The lack of exposition, only made the complex range of feelings, plot twists, and emotional connections more powerful.

My second favorite aspect of the movie, was that it made me realize things about the book I hadn’t considered. I saw a tendency of Katniss to transfer her love to whoever needs her most immediately. The capital representing the dangers of a concentration of wealth clicked in the scenes from the capital. The idea that Peeta is the first person to try and take care of Katniss, is something else I hadn’t considered. This only deepened my crush on the character.

As I wrote before, this movie was intense. There is very little humor to break the tension. My cousin cried literally from beginning to end. I almost couldn’t talk about it afterwards when we went to lunch (which is unusual for me). It is intense, but really really good. It has already set records in ticket sales, and with good reason. I think if you liked the books you will be happy with this retelling and excited for the next installment. I know I am.


12 thoughts on “The Hunger Games Film: Faithful Retelling of the Book

  1. “My initial thoughts were that I was glad the movie didn’t succumb to the temptation to function as an action movie.”

    I’m fully with you on this one. They could have totally made this movie into some shoot’em up shenanigans but they managed to find a legit balance.

    I’ve heard fans of the books say how they thought there was too much time in the games and not enough spent on the development of relationships between the characters. The things is, if you pitch a movie called “The Hunger Games” and then don’t show said games you’re going to have a whole load of ticked off movie goers.

    1. I agree. The amount of time spent in the arena didn’t bother me, that is where the bulk of the action in book (if not the exposition) took place.

  2. Fab review!!! I missed my chance to go and see it yesterday, but I think i’m going this evening. I’m looking forward to it even more after reading this. I’m glad that doesn’t go too far away from the book, which is what I was mostly anting to know. 🙂

  3. Great review – my first time revelation is in the end should Katniss choose someone who is like her (Gale) or someone who has different strengths (Peeta) – however, the movie and the book is about so much more than the love triangle, I just had never thought of that before.

  4. My main critique is that I wished they had gone more extreme in the differences between the Districts and The Capitol. I wish the residents had been more Lady Gaga than Katy Perry, and the Districts weren’t quite as gritty or hopeless as I had imagined. Besides that, I really enjoyed it, and it definitely highlighted parts of the book I hadn’t previously put much thought into.

    1. Great point. While I thought the districts looked pretty gritty, maybe muted or bland is actually a better description, I thought The Capitol folks would look outrageous … not just a more perfect version of what my sister and I look like when we play dress up … I mean used to play dress up.

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