The Hunger Games Movie Review

Well I decided that since The Hunger Games came out in theaters a couple of weeks ago (thus giving people enough time to see it before giving spoilers) I would write a review on the movie. Let me start by saying that I love the book trilogy; I read the first book around late 2008 or early 2009. It came out in September of 2008 so I guess that makes me a Hunger Games hipster. Lovely, just what I wanted to be. Anyway, enough about my life and let’s get to my opinions.

The story takes place in a futuristic North America which has been turned into the country of Panem. Panem was divided into thirteen districts which were ruled by the Capitol until the districts decided to rebel. The Capitol was able to reclaim control over twelve of the districts while destroying the thirteenth completely. Every year, as a reminder to the twelve districts of what happens when they rebelled, one boy and one girl from each district is selected as tribute to fight in a battle to the death against the other tributes. The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12, the poorest of the districts. She lives with her mother and younger sister, Prim, but her father died a year or two earlier. At the reaping [when the tributes are selected] Katniss volunteers as tribute when Prim’s name is called and she, along with the male tribute Peeta and their drunken mentor Haymitch, prepares for the 74th annual Hunger Games. *Note: The rest of the review contains some spoilers for both the book and movie.

If I had to sum up the movie in one word, it would have to be ‘wow’. Now, mind you, I’m a bit of a Hunger Games fangirl; not crazy obsessed but I adored the books, so my impressions of the movie may be different than those who never read the books. Whether or not that’s a good thing, remains to be seen. I was so impressed with how true the movie had stayed to the book. Only a couple of details were changed, which is common for a movie that was adapted from a first-person novel. In the movie you see President Snow talking to the game maker, a riot in District 11 after Rue’s death, and an ominous scene with the game maker and a bowl of berries, which all but literally tells you that the game maker dies. All of these scenes are never given to you in the book because it is written in Katniss’ point of view, and she was never able to know that any of this was happening. One detail that they unnecessarily changed was the way Katniss received her mockingjay pin. In the book she gets it as a gift from her friend, and mayor’s daughter, Madge Undersee. In the movie, however, neither the mayor nor his daughter are mentioned or shown, instead she buys a woman gives it to Katniss for free at a shop in the Hob. I wouldn’t mind this detail too much if it weren’t for the fact that Katniss learns a piece of important information while visiting Madge at her home in the second novel. I’m sure they’ll figure out a new way to lead Katniss to that information, but I still feel that they could have kept Madge in the film. My guess is that introducing Madge as a character would have made the movie longer than they wanted it to be. Either way, I digress.

Another reason I would say ‘wow’ is because if you hadn’t read the book before watching the movie, there might be a few holes in the story for you. For me, the biggest one would have to be when Katniss had been stung by the trackerjackers and has hallucinations. I feel that it might have been hard for people to realize the explosions were the cause of her father’s death. Other than that, I can’t remember specific details but I know that there are scenes where Katniss will do something and, since we can’t hear her thoughts in the movie, her motives behind her actions will become misconstrued. I’ve had friends tell me that they think Katniss is a mean, rude person because she did something [i.e. the way she talked to her mother after the reaping] when really they just didn’t know why she had done it and after I explained, they realized her true intentions. All in all I think that the movie was very well adapted from the book and I hope the second one is just as good. Hopefully, changing directors won’t cause any harm to the way the movie is produced. I’ll be sure to have my fingers crossed!

P.S. am I the only one who loved that Woody Harrelson [Haymitch] and Lenny Kravitz [Cinna] were in this movie? Also, what are your thoughts toward the anger that some fans of the books feel about black actors having been cast for some of the roles? My opinion is that even if you thought of someone as a white person while reading the book, it’s ridiculous to become infuriated when that character isn’t white in the movie. The character’s race shouldn’t matter unless it’s specifically addressed in the novel yet changed for the movie.

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