Before getting into this Hunger Games storm I was a skeptic. I thought this was another Twilight or something, but I was told that it wasn’t so I sat down and read the novel a few weeks ago AND IT WAS FANTASTIC! Soon I was analyzing each scene from the trailer whenever I saw it, looking for hints of some of my favorite moments from the book. Now that I’ve seen the movie it’s time to break this whole thing down.
From this point on there will be spoilers, so don’t continue on until you’ve you’ve read the books or seen the movie.
The movie was really good, I want to get that out of the way before we go any further. I thought it followed the book extremely close and mastered the art of suspense… for the first half atleast. The problem I have with the film is that it felt like the book on fast-forward. The movie lasts a good 2½ hours but it feels like only an hour, yet somehow I feel like it was rushing through the story and it failed to give us the full experience.
The book has about 12 moments that are completely memorable – some these moments the movie nailed (Katniss shooting the apple from the pig’s mouth), and most of them the movie didn’t quite hit (the relationship/alliance between Katniss and Rue for example). Let’s start with that.
In the book Katniss forms an alliance with Rue and it works out in both of their favor; Rue helps Katniss with herbal medicine skills and Katniss is able to hunt for them both. They also share their knowledge of the other contestants. Their alliance is stretched out over a couple of chapters and you feel that a real relationship was formed. When Rue is eventually killed you feel sad because, well, she’s dead, and also because of the impact it has on Katniss.
This is how it played out in the movie: They form an alliance and no more than 10 minutes later Rue dies. The way Katniss reacts is exactly how it’s depicted in the book, the problem is that 10 minutes is not enough time for us to believe that Katniss had this strong of an attachment to Rue. It felt hurried.
The whole movie felt like this. It was like the spark notes version of the book on screen. There simply wasn’t enough time given to let us feel the importance of each major moment. It didn’t let us soak it in and reflect on that moment for a second before moving on. Most of my favorite moments from the book just didn’t feel right on screen, and I’m not sure who to blame. Should I blame the director? Probably. The editor? Yeah, him too. I don’t know and don’t care really, I just wish these moments were given more attention.
What about the last fight between Katniss and Cato. Again, it felt rushed. We went from the dogs chasing them to the cornucopia to Katniss and Peeta winning the Hunger Games in a span of five minutes.
I’d give more examples but I really don’t want to more time giving a scene by scene comparison to the book.
I don’t know, maybe if I hadn’t of read the book I wouldn’t feel like this, but I did and I do. The book was meant to be on screen, it was well paced and full of everything you want to see in a movie. The moments you remember in the book stay with you long after it’s done. When you see them in the movie they’re here and gone in a minute and not really worth remembering.
The bottom line is that the casting was brilliant (I even like that Rue and Cinna are African-American in the film), the acting was great, and I really enjoyed the movie. They really nailed the relationship between Katniss and Gale and they truly did nail the suspense of getting to the games during the first half of the film. The things I could do without are the added scenes of the control room and the way the dogs are introduced. While I don’t think the lack of impact and time given to the biggest moments of the book ruined the movie, I do think it hurt it. The Hunger Games was a really good movie, but man, it could have been so great.
These are just my opinions. Feel free to leave your hate comments in the box below.
Follow Ray on twitter at @whoisray.