Review: The Hunger Games

Warning, mateys. Here be some spoilers.
Last night I went to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I was eager to see the film right away, but I was also apprehensive about going at midnight. The last few midnight showings I went to had a plethora of squealing girls–whenever the love-interests of choice would come on screen they would scream. I was ready to throw them into the arena. However, the midnight showing of The Hunger Games was filled with an almost reverent audience. It was amazing. The only time anyone made a noise was a few shrieks after a particularly startling moment. Apparently, fans of The Hunger Games are better than fans of a lot of other things.
The film was an excellent adaptation of the events of the book. Most changes seemed like logical logistical choices, though there were a few things that I missed which could have been kept in. The first was when Katniss screams Peeta’s name after the announcement that two tributes from the same district could win. It was such an open and almost vulnerable moment in the books. I wish that it had stayed, since it showed the beginning of what might be feelings for the other tribute. The second had to do with Katniss’s stylist team–they were hilarious in the book, but barely featured in the movie. As a group, only one character utters one line. The third also had to do with Peeta and the scene in the cave. The movie does not have the lamb stew and–most importantly–it doesn’t have Katniss drugging Peeta in order to get his medicine from the Feast. I thought that moment was essentially Katniss. She likes this kid–whether friendly or romantically, she doesn’t know–but she knows what she needs to do and she’s driven to do whatever she needs to in order to reach her goals.
I liked most of the extra scenes they added. The use of StanleyTucci’s Caeser Flickerman as a Hunger Games newscaster to fill in the narrative was a great idea, and Tucci was great in that role. I also liked seeing Haymitch consorting with the sponsors–but I didn’t like his scene with Seneca Crane. I thought it was unnecessary and probably illegal in Panem. I also enjoyed the scenes of District 12 citizens watching the Games. It felt like it added a bit more emotion to the movie. What I didn’t like was ( warning again, SPOILERS ) the scene of the riot in District 11 after Rue was killed. Wasn’t the point of the first part of Catching Fire to show that Katniss needed to keep the districts from starting to riot? I thought at first that the man was supposed to be Rue’s father and we were being treated to an emotional scene which would bring us further into the world. Not something where readers of the book balk and think “This is wrong!”
It took me a while to put my finger on the biggest problem I had with the movie. It took a conversation with my mom to realize what it was–the movie is lacking some of the soul of the book. When I began the book, I knew Katniss ended up in the arena. I thought she was picked in the reaping because Collins had convinced me that there was no way Prim would be chosen. Katniss’s willingness to volunteer in place of her sister, and the district’s reaction to her sacrifice, was completely moving. It really wasn’t so much in the movie. The action in the arena was engrossing, but it similarly didn’t hold the same soul as the book did. It didn’t show that Katniss was playing the game to survive–but also playing it according to her terms.

I was pleased with the casting, though. There wasn’t a single portrayal I did not enjoy–though I could have used a little more of Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch. Haymitch is one of my favorite characters, and I wish he had a little more to do. I cannot imagine anyone other than Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and Elizabeth Banks was an excellent Effie Trinket.
The Hunger Games movie is a great adaptation. It’s not as great as the book, but it’s definitely worth the ticket-and-concession price. I would give it a 7/10.

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