Movie Review: “The Hunger Games”

Grade: B

Being a pretty big fan of The Hunger Games series, I assumed I would start this post with a wild statement about how awesome the movie was. But after re-reading the book, seeing the movie (twice actually), and have conversations with multiple different people (ranging in age from 13 to 22) about it I have come to a conclusion: it was OK. Getting to see everything on-screen was cool, but the movie kind of feels like an abridged version of the book. There are two things that cause this: lacking details and internal dialogue.

Let’s start with lacking details. The movie showed us ever major event that happened in the book and it is two hours and 22 minutes long. Because there was a lot of stuff that had to be included for the movie to make sense, small stuff was excluded. Some of it I agreed with. Eliminating Madge as a character made sense for the sake of time and all she really does in the first book is give Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) the mockingjay pin. While eliminating the prep team–Venia, Flavius and Octavia– was probably also done for the sake of time, I think it effects the story more. The prep team is a representation of the Capitol and, later, how Katniss learns to understand how people in the Capitol think. Lots of other small details are left out too such as the explanation of Katniss’ relationship with her mom, her relationship with the citizens of District 12, the red-haired Avox girl, etc. Personally, I think the movie should have been longer to allow for more details. I would have sat through a three-hour Hunger Games movie, and I’m sure most fans of the book would feel the same.

Speaking of the book, the biggest problem the movie seemed to face was the inability to use internal dialogue. The book is told in the first person by Katniss and a majority of the content is her thinking to herself alone in the arena. Obviously, Katniss’ thoughts were a little harder to convey in the movie. The movie does a good job in some parts; Katniss shoots a rather disgusted look at the girl from District 8 who lights the fire and the feeling of betrayal is accurately portrayed when Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) walks by with the Careers. This problem seemed to have a greater effect on the movie than the lacking details. If I had not read the book I feel like a would have been confused. Also, it seems to play down the fact that Katniss is faking the star-crossed lovers from District 12 thing. One of my friends suggested voice-over or narration by Katniss, I think that would have worked.

But, regardless of the problems I had with the movie, I did like it. Seeing some things on-screen were more intense than reading them such as Cato (Alexander Ludwig) snapping the boy from District 3’s neck and Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman) hitting Katniss in the head with a knife. Combat-wise, the feast scene was my favorite part. The movie did change a few things. I don’t really like or dislike them, I more just interested to see how they play out. Some of the things are small in terms of how they will affect the story, like Peeta having two legs for example. Others will affect the series or at least the next movie, like District 11 rebelling after Rue is killed when in the book it doesn’t start until the Katniss and Peeta are there on the victory tour.

While we are on the topic of District 11, whose tributes black, I would like to comment on the racist backlash that the Hunger Games is facing. Some of this is kind of old, but I just took notice of it yesterday. Click these links if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Now, I saw the trailer and thought the movie looked cool, so I read the book. I only mention that because my image of Cinna was already set as Lenny Kravitz. The first time I read the book, I didn’t picture Rue (Amandla Stenberg) and Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) being black. I pictured tan, way tanner than Katniss but not exactly black, even though they are described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” When I saw the trailer again after reading the book, I felt embarrassed that I totally missed it, but I looked at the characters and thought, “that is perfect.” . I’m disgusted that people are mad because they are black and that’s not how they pictured them. Obviously it was what Suzanne Collins wanted and it shouldn’t change how Rue, Thresh and Cinna are thought about.

That paragraph kind of sums up my views on casting. I thought everyone was perfect. I really like that Jennifer Lawrence looks nothing like Katniss, but dressed up like Katniss she looks exactly how I pictured her. I have tried to explain this many times and kind of failed, but it’s like Katniss isn’t an actress she is a character and only a character.

In conclusion, I thought the movie could have been better (or maybe just longer), but I still liked it. I will probably see it again, buy it the day it comes out on DVD and see the midnight showing of Catching Fire.