Thoughts on the Hunger Games Movie

No, not Catching Fire—I haven’t seen that one yet.

It actually took me a long time to be even a little interested in seeing The Hunger Games. I loved the book, but am historically disappointed in movies adapted from books. I know, I know, different mediums, different artists—but it’s very hard for me to separate the movie from the book, so I generally avoid movies based on books I like.

However, my fiance discovered recently that the movie is on Netflix, and I figured that since a) I hadn’t read the book in a while and was reasonably removed from it and b) I wouldn’t be paying to see the movie (other than the monthly Netflix fee, of course), it might be worth it to give it a shot.

So we watched it.

The main thing that surprised me about The Hunger Games movie was how disjointed it seemed. It was a bit hard for me to follow, so I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for someone who hadn’t read the book. (For what it’s worth, though, my mom said she enjoyed it very much without having read the book, so maybe I’m wrong there.) Everything about this movie was choppy: jumping from scene to scene with very little filler was slightly disorienting, as was the almost-ubiquitous shaky-cam style of filming. It was definitely making me dizzy after a while. While I can see the artistic benefit/purpose of the shaky cam, it felt overdone to me.

Otherwise, it seemed like a pretty faithful adaptation, at least in the sense that the feel remained much the same as the book. Obviously things were changed, like where Katniss gets the mockingjay pin, and some (rather important, I thought) things were cut, like the background behind Katniss’s outburst at her mother before she’s whisked away to the Capitol. If you read the book, you would know that Katniss tells her mother that she can’t collapse again because when Katniss’s father was killed in a mine accident, her mother retreated almost completely into herself, leaving Katniss to raise Prim pretty much on her own. But if you hadn’t read the book, how would you know that?

For once, though, I didn’t walk away disappointed with (or, as is often the case, devastated by) a movie adapted from a book. This might have to do with the fact that The Hunger Games was written in such a way that it seemed inevitable that it would be made into a movie—even the first time I read it, it felt like I was reading a movie—but even so, I was impressed that the creators of The Hunger Games movie could adapt a book in such a way that I didn’t hate it.

In the end, I’m not going to go around praising the movie and recommending it to everyone I know, but I certainly won’t recommend that you don’t see it. The one thing I would recommend is reading the book first. Some people apparently were able to follow it without having read the book (hi Mom), but you’ll still be able to have a fuller understanding and better appreciation of the movie if you read the book first.

Happy viewing!

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One thought on “Thoughts on the Hunger Games Movie

  1. The first Hunger Games could definitely have been better. By keeping it PG-13, I felt like they couldn’t quite capture the visceral nature of the games. As far as Katniss and her mom, I thought in that goodbye outburst scene w/ her mom, she said something like “not like when dad died” and then during Katniss’ hallucination scene during the Games, they allude to what happened to her dad and then her mom, but I don’t know if someone who hadn’t read the books would know what was going on in the hallucination scene.

    I agree that Hunger Games was written very cinematically – I felt that way when I read it several years ago.

    By the way, Catching Fire was much much better. They had more money to make the film, so that helps, but there wasn’t the shaky cam dependence of the first movie. But there was also a little bit more artistry and the new cast members were great (also Woody Harrelson as Haymitch continues to be fantastic.)

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