Okay, okay, I know this is liteRANTER and not movieRanter, but I believe book to movie adaptations fall under my jurisdiction. Plus, it’s The Hunger Games. How can I resist?
Since I’m pretty sure most people know the general story line (and anyone who doesn’t probably won’t be reading a review of the movie, anyway), I’m going to skip a plot synopsis and get straight to the point.
Let’s start with one of my favorite things about the movie: the expanded POV. As most of you know, the trilogy is written in the first person, meaning the entire story is from Katniss’ POV. And while this works very well for the books (switching POVs in a first person story is always tricky), obviously it wouldn’t come across as well in the movie. In order to expand the world of Panem and give us a good look at the wide variety of characters and motivations, the movie continually switches back and forth between Katniss, President Snow and Seneca Crane, and a variety of other characters, such as Haymitch and Caesar. Because of this, we aren’t faced with two straight hours of Katniss running around in the woods, and yet all the important stuff still plays out perfectly. It just has a few additions.
I particularly like the interaction between Snow and Seneca, as we get only the bare bones of Seneca’s story in the books. He fails as a game maker. He’s killed for it. In the movie, we’re able to watch Seneca’s demise unfold before our eyes. And boy, does he have a fitting end.
I know you’ve probably seen a ton of these floating around. Obviously, due to the aforementioned POV changes, there’s a lot of new content that was never explored in the book. However, there are also quite a few things that were left out. And while none of them really detract from the story for me, personally, I thought I’d list a few you may want to know about.
The Mockingjay Pin: In the book, Madge gives Katniss the mockinjay pin. In the movie, Madge doesn’t exist. Well, she might, but she’s never seen. Instead, Katniss picks up the pin when she goes to trade her catch of the day. The vendor gives it to her for free. It then changes hands several times. Katniss gives it to Prim before the reaping. Prim gives it back after the reaping. Cinna sticks it on Katniss’ jacket before the games begin. And we continue to see it until the very end, when she wears it on her dress as she and Peeta are (begrudgingly) congratulated by Snow for winning.
Rue’s Death: One of the most emotional points (if not the most) in the story, Rue’s death is something that is hard to forget. However, there was a small difference between the book and movie. That is, Katniss does arrive on time to save her. She actually cuts the net open and frees Rue, only for the spear to still deal her a lethal blow. Not too big of a change, in my opinion, but your mileage may very. I actually find it even more bitter, considering Katniss actually has a chance to save her–and fails.
District 11 Riot: What D11 riot? Exactly. They added one. I found it to be a little odd, considering that Katniss has yet to truly become the mockingjay. But it’s definitely an emotional scene. A man, who seems to be Rue’s father, if appearance and reaction are anything to go by, viciously attacks the Peacekeepers, leading to an all out riot where food and machinery and buildings are destroyed. However, it doesn’t go far, as it’s brutally put down by the Peacekeepers.
There were quite a few more: the sleep syrum was never used to make Peeta fall asleep, Buttercup the cat was black and white instead of orange, Haymitch wasn’t at the reaping in the beginning, etc. These things don’t really have much of an impact on the movie, but for avid fans of the books, they may be an annoyance.
I know some of you have probably already heard about the “shaky camera work,” yeah? Well, despite my enjoyment of the movie, I’m afraid I have to complain about it, too. I understand exactly why they did it. They couldn’t well outright show vicious, gory battles between teens without upping the rating (which would have then alienated the target audience). That’s the price to pay for book to movie adaptations. The level of violence allowable in a YA book far exceeds that for a movie due to the transition from mental images to actual images. However, I did feel there were some times that they could have toned it down a bit. The camera was zipping back and forth so quickly in some parts that I couldn’t quite see what was even happening. It was a bit dizzying in places.
It’s good. Really good. I think the movie accurately sums up the essence of The Hunger Games without losing too much plot. There are some things that careful readers and watchers will notice that will no doubt annoy them, but overall, this is a fabulous movie. It’s well-executed in terms of POV and additional material. It doesn’t change anything major. It sets up the next movie perfectly, what with the final scene of a frustrated Snow marching up the steps as D12 cheers for Katniss and Peeta. Best movie I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m looking forward to see Catching Fire already.