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.