*note – this update is sadly missing pictures and links… I will fix this shortly, I promise.
I’ve read The Hunger Games Trilogy. In fact, I read them all in three days flat. I felt that the first two books were fantastic commentary on politics, consumerism and reality television and the third was comparatively limp and directionless, but still an arguably good read.
I didn’t read the series until about a month before the first film premiered; so it was still fresh in my mind as I settled into the comfy seats of my local cineplex.
First thought was that (as is the usual case) the film was not as good as the book. The screenwriter chose (both due to necessity of time and apparent recklessness) to cut 2/3 of the meat from the already slim volume of book one. It should be noted that the books are written entirely from Katniss Everdeen’s point of view. It can be difficult to write a screenplay from a single POV, but not impossible. So many of the twists and turns of the plot rely on Katniss’s internal monologue that cutting it out pretty much eliminates, you know, the whole fricking point.
Insofar as the casting of the main characters, Jennifer Lawson was an excellent choice for Katniss, too bad she didn’t have more to do. Josh Hutcherson, as Peeta, was clearly cast for his physical look and not for his ability to act. As evidence, I give you every movie he has ever been in, ever. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was far too likable, good-looking, and not nearly drunk enough. The decision to swap his character’s magnificent entrance in the book for a muted exchange on the train-ride to The Capitol was a huge mistake and totally undermined the development of his character.
Despite all of this, I can’t say that the movie was awful. It was OK. Unlike another book-series-turned-film-franchise that felt it necessary to split a book into two parts (coughcoughBreakingDawncoughcough) this story would have actually benefited. I think it would have made sense to have Part One deal with everything leading up to the start of The Games and Part Two taking place entirely in the arena. That way so many truly important elements to the story-line might have found a way to be left in.
It had become so obvious only a third of the way into the movie that they were rushing to get through the story as quickly as possible that by the time they literally fast-forwarded to the end (and acknowledged they were doing so in the dialogue) it was all I could do not to roll my eyes.
It’s just so unfortunate when such a compelling and well-written story is given such short-shrift in its film version. I’m not sure how they’ll make up for skipping so many key details in The Hunger Games when they set about filming Catching Fire this fall (or if they’ll even be able to).
When the second installment does finally make its way to the silver screen, it’s likely I’ll just wait for it to be available for streaming, rather than dropping the full movie-theater price on it.
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