Random Thoughts on “The Hunger Games” Movie

If you have not seen or read “The Hunger Games” and wish to remain spoiler-free, please skip this post.

Movie poster for "The Hunger Games" (image: www.thehungergamesmovie.com)
Movie poster for "The Hunger Games" (image: http://www.thehungergamesmovie.com)

“The book is always better than the movie” is a bit of conventional wisdom that I find to be true almost without exception,* and such is the case with “The Hunger Games,” which I saw tonight with my friends Julia and Priya. This is not to suggest it is a bad movie – it is, in fact, really enjoyable as both a book adaptation and an adventure movie… but there were also things that were definitely better in my head than onscreen. It’s too late at night to write a real review, and I’m not much of a film critic anyway, so instead, I offer a random list of impressions:

  • I thought the casting was, overall, really great, especially Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman (hilarious), Donald Sutherland as President Snow (creeeeepy), and – much to my surprise – Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (gentle and empathetic). I also really liked Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and can’t for the life of me figure out why she was a controversial choice.
  • The overall landscape – both in District 12 and in the Hunger Games arena – was much more lush than I anticipated. I was thinking things would look a bit more spare only 74 years after the massive war that led to the creation of the games.
  • I was really curious as to how they would dramatize the long stretches during the games when Katniss is alone in the arena, with no one to talk to. The book, of course, fills this with her thoughts, but it’s not like rambling monologues would work on film. Cutting in scenes of the gamemakers at work, Flickerman’s hosting of the games on television, and scenes with President Snow worked perfectly.
  • The grand procession before the games was, in my opinion, a bit of a disappointment. It held a little more closely to a classical gladiators-enter-the-coliseum aesthetic than I imagined. Based on the out-of-this-world descriptions of the capital, I had envisioned an open-air arena with a circular, elevated track, and really fast chariots. Katniss and Peeta’s fire costumes did look terrific, though.
  • Though I know why it had to be left out (didn’t really move the plot), it was unfortunate to lose all the details about the districts and what each specializes in.
  • I thought the film was very unclear as to Katniss’ motivations in regards to Peeta. In the book, it was pretty clear that, while she genuinely grew fond of him, most of their “relationship” was a contrivance on her part to survive the games. Julia, Priya, and I chatted about this a little on the way to the train, and I think we agreed this was in order to help set up the second movie.
  • The muttations at the end of the games were so much less scary than in my head, where I had pictured them as some sort of upright, razor-clawed gazelle-like things.

Anyone else who’s seen it, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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* The exception, for me, being the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I found the books excruciating to read, but thought the movies were wonderful. Peter Jackson managed to cut out all the boring stuff, beef up some other parts, and shoot a stunningly gorgeous film, all at the same time. Good work!

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5 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on “The Hunger Games” Movie

  1. Common loon March 26, 2012 / 11:51 pm

    Sarah, I’m “sneaking” to the theater after dropping the kids at school in the morning. It’s my only chance. 🙂

    • Sarah March 26, 2012 / 11:54 pm

      Oh, I think that sounds like a splendid idea! Hope you enjoy it!

  2. susan March 27, 2012 / 6:49 am

    Both girls thought that the scenes could have been made so much worse/gory…and were glad they weren’t. 🙂 And neither liked the tracker/waspy things scene…but besides that….both loved it!

  3. Common loon March 27, 2012 / 3:33 pm

    I liked the movie. In my opinion, the book was better because it touched more senses (like the overwhelming rose fragrance which could only be alluded to in a theater). I don’t think the movie did enough to convey the oppressiveness of the Capitol (the tongue-cutting stuff, although it was mentioned in passing, almost as a joke?). I really liked the scenes between Snow and Seneca, and thought the movie did better than the book on that. I like how the movie handled the violence very much! Thought the tracker-jacker scene was very well done (although I thought them bigger for some reason). I totally agree with you on the opening procession scene. Oh, and I thought the mutants would be more wolf-like and fang-y and furry (glad the movie was kinder than my imagination). Lastly, I don’t think the movie did a great job portraying Katniss’ conflicted feelings between Gale and Peeta.

    Thanks, Sarah! I feel like I just skipped school 🙂

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