The Hunger Games Movie

I, like many others, braved an incredibly crowded movie theater to watch The Hunger Games this weekend  Here’s my rundown of the experience.

The movie did these things really well:

  • Illustrating the material differences between the Capitol and District 12.  The Capitol was as opulent and over-the-top and District 12 was as poor and coal-mining as I had imagined when reading the book.  I think this is one of those points that is far easier to show in pictures than in words.
  • Showing the manipulation of the Games by the Officials and government.  The war room where they conjured up fires, muttations, and more was a really great way to demonstrate both how the Games were a television show manufactured for entertainment and how the government had a direct role in manipulating the tributes into using violence against one another.
  • Rue’s death.  I was sobbing at this point of both the book and the movie and I think the movie did an excellent job portraying one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the book.
  • Effie Trinket.  She was a surprising source of comic relief throughout the early part of the film and in the books she annoyed me.  It was really necessary to have her moments of lightness in a movie that was so dark and heavy.

What the movie did not do so well:

  • The romance.  I will say that it must have been very difficult to try to show Katniss’s complex feelings for Peeta.  However, they didn’t do a very convincing job on the romance front at all.  I did not get the impression that Katniss was faking it with Peeta.  In fact, I didn’t feel like Peeta was even that into Katniss.  The overall chemistry between Katniss and Peeta fell flat, for sure.  I didn’t walk away rooting for them to work it out, like I did in the book.
  • The girl on fire dresses.  Ok, I admit that going into this movie I knew I would probably be disappointed by the special effects for these dresses because fake fire is notoriously bad.  This movie proved no exception.  Those dresses are best left for the imagination, I think.

Some side notes:

  • My husband refused to believe me that this movie was hyped to the nines and that even on Sunday at 10am, in the Bible Belt it would be crowded.  We ended up sitting three rows from the front and his sore neck will be like me constantly whispering in his ear “I told you so.”
  • Some of the scenes were nauseating.  Especially the tracker-jacker hallucinations.  If I had wanted to pay money to feel nauseated, I’d have bought a plane ticket or a ticket to Six Flags.
  • I joked to my husband that we needed to make some Team Peeta shirts for the movie. He, just to be contrary, claims he is Team Snow and tells me not to hate the player, hate the Games.
  • Gale is hotter than Peeta.  I was all Peeta all the way in the books.  But Gale’s good looks might change my mind where the movies are concerned.
  • I lent my copy of The Hunger Games to my sister.  So excited to convert her!
  • Overall, I liked the movie and thought it represented the book pretty well.  The pacing was a bit problematic, but that’s why the book is always better than the movie 🙂

So, tell me, how was your movie-going experience?  What did you like/dislike about the movie?

13 thoughts on “The Hunger Games Movie

  1. Elizabeth-

    I was getting ready to write almost the exact same thing. LOL

    My daughter and I went to see it Friday night. She had not read the book, yet, a bit of a rebellion on her part ;-). But, she LOVED the set and costume design and noticed immediately the drastic differences between the Capitol and District 12. I did cry more about Rue’s death when I read it in the book, then in the movie. It was still heartrending in the movie, but I think the explanation of Katniss’ in the book, from her point of view was more telling. Though, in a movie it’s hard to get inside someone’s head as much.

    I think the whole love angle was also greatly under developed in the movie. In the book, I went back and forth with thinking Peeta was playing to no he wasn’t, then when Katniss started using the angle, it made more sense and really set up the heartbreak at the end of the book, which I think was poorly translated to screen. I, however, have not read the last two books, so I have no way of knowing HOW the love triangle plays out and can’t wait to find out. And, I have to say I am already in favor of Gale “winning” and will be crushed if he doesn’t get Katniss in the end. When they showed Gale onscreen the first time, I leaned over and told my daughter (who is 13) that I thought he was definitely the cuter of the two, she shushed me. Then after the movie she said, “thanks, mom, now even if I did think he was cute, I can’t now, because you think he is.” LOL

    I, too, was disappointed by the costuming choices for the girl on fire costumes. But, again, I think we built up the dresses in our heads and they just couldn’t translate to onscreen very well.

    Overall, I thought it was a great movie. I do like the book better. I love the way Collins’ wrote as Katniss and through her eyes.

    • Haha! Your daughter’s comments crack me up- so glad you two had a fun time at the movie!

      I think you are right that where the movie faltered was in translating the first person narrative to a third person one. I hope you enjoy the next two books when you get to them! They are really addictive!

  2. Pingback: Movie Review: The Hunger Games | Reading After Bedtime

  3. I agree, it’s hard to show a lot of what’s in a book on screen, and something like Katniss’ feelings for Peeta would be hard. For example, I was confused in the beginning about why she wasn’t talking to him, but then someone reminded me in the book that she doesn’t talk to him because she doesn’t want to befriend someone she’ll have to kill.

    I also didn’t like the shaky camera, for the most part, although I thought how they used the hallucinations to show Katniss’ life story was really cool.

  4. The film doesn’t really get going until they actually do get to The Hunger Games, but when it does get started up its entertaining, tense, unpredictable, and very well executed from Gary Ross. I also couldn’t believe that this was his 3rd film after other flicks such as Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, which are both good but are different from this one. Still though, great jobs from everybody involved and I cannot wait for the sequel. Good review Elizabeth.

  5. I’m not gonna lie… I loved every bit of it, even the things you said they didn’t do so well. I did feel like the romance was a little hard to get behind… I think had I not read the books and if I wasn’t familiar with how complex they were, I wouldn’t have quite gotten behind it at all. I loved how we got to see the Capitol’s manipulation of the Games… I think that while I knew it was going on in the back of my mind, seeing them doing the manipulation made it all the more worse.

    Although I do disagree with you on the girl on fire costumes… I kind of loved them, especially the black outfits that were lit on fire. Were they what I had imagined? No, of course not. But I thought they were fantastic adaptations! My only complaint about seeing the different costumes was that they didn’t show the other tributes’ costumes. Oh well! Can’t have everything! 🙂

    • I really enjoyed the movie, too! Perhaps more as a companion piece to the book, though, than as a film that could stand on its own. And I too wanted to see more of the other tributes’ costumes and get to know their names or something– their deaths lacked some meaning because we didn’t even know who they were or what they represented. (I suppose that is somewhat consistent with the book, but I think the movie could have done it and pulled more heartstrings, but chose not to.)

  6. I saw it on Sunday. Was planning to do a blog post on it too, but don’t have my blogging team together yet, and we all saw it this weekend. I think I’m still in too much of a blissful state to give it a fair treatment. Just seeing it on screen was so overwhelming. Have been a fan of the books from the moment the first one came out and have waited a long time to see it come to life.

    I have to agree with your review of the romance. I think a lot of it was lost in the movie, how much Peeta loved her. He did make the statement about having a crush on her and he told her how ever since she was little and raised her hand to sing the song in their school assembly, he had watched her, always watched her. I got that Peeta was into Katniss in the movie and not playing the game, but the book influence might have had something to do with it. I think in the book, Katniss was way more confused about her feelings for Peeta and actually did have an attaction for him which warred with her feelings for Gale. And other than showing he was a good buddy, you wouldn’t have known she had any feelings or loyalty to Gale over Peeta. They cut to Gale one time when Peeta and Katniss were smootching, so you got an impression, maybe, that Gale was bothered by it. Anyway, I do have to agree that the feelings between Peeta and Katniss at the very end of the book were sort of diluted, when it was such a critical part.

    Everything else I pretty much loved. The casting was so perfect, at least for the adult roles. Yes, Gale was more handsome. I imagined him more handsome in the books, too, but it was Peeta’s spirit that was so beautiful and I’m hoping the Josh kid can pull it off.

    • Me too… I wasn’t too impressed with Peeta in this first movie, but that is mainly because I had a hard time falling for him. That actor’s just so… beefy and square-jawed and his hair was horrible… I’d believe him as a jock with a Napolean complex but not noble, sweet, selfless Peeta. But I think I may be alone in my disappointment with how Peeta looked/acted on screen.

  7. I agree with a lot of what you said. I went with my Mom and my brother. My brother is 23 and he was NOT happy with the casting of Peeta before he saw the movie, but Josh Hutcherson converted him. My brother even commented on how good looking Gale is.

    I was really impressed with the devices they came up with to get the narrative out of Katniss’s head (voiceovers are usually terrible). Using Seneca, Ceasar, and Snow to give the back story was excellent.

    I too felt the romance was definitely underplayed, but honestly of all the things to underplay that was it. From Katniss’s perspective romance was not a priority.

    My biggest complain was that Katniss and Peeta came out of the arena in too good of shape. That’s also one of the true emotional reactions to Peeta that Katniss has – when they are taking him to work on his leg and she’s screaming his name at the door.

    I thought it was well acted accross the board. I was actually really impressed by Cato and Clove. When I saw pictures of Clove I was like “she’s suppose to be scary”, but even though the actress wasn’t very big, she totally pulled off menacing.

    Overall they did a really good job, but everytime someone asks me about it I give the cliche – “Its good, but read the books first – they’re better”.

    • Good point about the romance not being Katniss’s priority… the romantic parts were my least favorite parts of the books (which is weird because generally I am a fan of romance), but I kind of feel like if you’re going to go there, go there. And I’m not sure they really committed to going there… if that makes sense!

      And you’re right about them coming out of the arena in too good of shape… I think in general they sort of downplayed the violence (to get that PG13 rating, I’m sure) and that took some of the punch out of the story.

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