23 August 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (Film)

After waiting somewhat impatiently, I was finally able to watch the movie The Hunger Games, based on the novel of the same title by Suzanne Collins. The DVD/BluRay came out just this week, and I was lucky enough to get it from NetFlix over the weekend.

That was the really good news. The not so good news is that I thought the film was only just okay.

I'm sure my issues stem from the fact that I loved The Hunger Games book and thought Collins did a great job creating a believable world and fully realized characters. I had specific images in my head of what the places would look like and how the people would act. It's silly of me to expect that Gary Ross (the director) would have the same vision.

What I liked:

  • The cast, which includes Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland
  • The acting, which didn't disappoint
In addition, the hand-held camera scenes, which some theater-goers complained about, were not at all bothersome on the television. It was the rest of movie that didn't live up to my expectations.

Here are some of the general things that bothered me (no particular order):
  • No real tension or connection between Katniss and Peeta
  • No real sense of Katniss as the "girl on fire"
  • Haymitch Abernathy (although Harrelson was good) was cleaned up too much; not haunted
Here are some of the things about the games that bothered me: (no particular order)
  • No sense of the importance of the little parachutes & connection with sponsors
  • Change in the rules, which completely deflated and ruined the end
  • Not enough sense of terror, danger, or need to be cunning
  • Seemed to be over in a flash
  • The cornucopia wasn't golden
I'm no scriptwriter or movie director, but I was hoping for more and wanted to be immersed in Katniss's world. Instead I got a well-acted action flick that I'll soon forget.


bermudaonion 8/23/12, 6:10 AM  

I didn't love the book or the movie. I left the movie early because of the hand held camera scenes.

Daryl 8/23/12, 7:46 AM  

GMTA! I was just whining about some of the same things .. for me showing how Peeta threw her the bread wasnt enough to explain his connection to her and there was a little too much of a connection between Katniss and Gale ... in the book he never seemed to care for her the way he did in the movie .. and I maybe confusing the first 2 books but werent there challenges they had to beat? Things that made survival harder than just fighting one another to survive? And I totally agree about Hamish, too cleaned up too soon ...

Didnt notice the camera stuff .. to me it was a very well acted, edited, fast paced action film .. i hope the next one is a little more character involving .. i did notice that Suzanne Collins was one of the screen writers ..

Oh .. one thing that did bother me a lot .. the Mocking Jay pin which has huge significance - and how Katniss gets it really matters - so having her find it, give it to Prim before actually wearing it herself bothered me a lot even more than how healthy everyone looked ...

whine over ... bottom line i liked it and look forward to the next one

rhapsodyinbooks 8/23/12, 10:19 AM  

Good points about both the bothering stuff and the didn't like stuff. I would also add the significance of the Mockingjay pin and also the relationship between Katniss and Rue - not developed enough. And the change in where Katniss got flashed the solidarity sign. But even so, I also liked it!

Carrie K. 8/23/12, 10:50 AM  

While I think I enjoyed it more than you did, there were definitely some disappointments. The cornucopia was lame. For my husband, this was the first time he can ever remember reading a book and then watching a movie, and he laughed out loud and called it "pathetic."

Second, why didn't they act hungry on the train? No scene of them ripping into the food, being desperate for it.

Also, I didn't like that they never attempted to explain Peeta's alliance with the careers at the beginning of the games - it's like she just forgot it.

But, I did like the casting, and am optimistic about movie two. :)

Amy 8/23/12, 2:44 PM  

yep. I think it's a decent film, but I don't love it and I don't even know if I'll bother to watch the rest. I sort of regret ever seeing the Harry Potter movies now, and I think I might end up feeling the same way about this film franchise, so I think might not see the rest of the films.

Heidenkind 8/23/12, 2:59 PM  

Hm, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I thought the book was just okay--well-written, but I never felt connected to the characters. It's a shame that they messed with the Games, though, I could see that as being great on film.

Sandy Nawrot 8/23/12, 9:13 PM  

There were definitely things that were not in sync with the book, but I kinda expected that. The directors always have to do that for some reason. But overall, I was entertained by this movie. It wasn't a movie that just totally blew me away, but felt like it was worth my time to see in the theater.

Anonymous,  8/23/12, 10:07 PM  

I totally agree on Haymitch, especially since Woody Harrelson can do over-the-top quite well. I always expect outrageousness from him, and in the movie he just got too nice too fast.

Judith 8/24/12, 5:21 AM  

I loved the book, and like you, only liked the movie, it was okay, but no more than that. In fact, I do agree with you on every single point!

Peppermint Ph.D. 8/24/12, 6:40 AM  

I read this book a looooong time ago it seems. I loved it and even loved the others...Mockingjay being my favorite of the three books. I, too, just watched the movie via the new DVD release and enjoyed it overall. The casting would definitely have to be the #1 positive of the movie with the lack of intensity (in so many ways) the #1 negative. There were some characters that I didn't feel were developed enough, but I felt there may be time yet in the other films for that complete personality to develop (Haymitch) but others who should have been unforgettable (Rue) are gone.

Tanya Patrice 8/24/12, 8:56 AM  

I felt the same way - the film wasn't terrible - just okay - and for the people who didn't read the book, it's definitely a forgettable movie. In this case, I have to say the book is MUCH better than the movie. I assume it's just hard to capture all the details into the time frame for the movie. Too bad mini-series aren't in vogue anymore, because this book would definitely have made a better mini series.

caite 8/24/12, 9:49 AM  

Yes, while I liked the movie, it can not really stand up to the book. As is so often true...

Karen White 8/24/12, 9:59 AM  

Though I agree with several of your criticisms of the movie, I have to share that I saw this with ten 12 yr old girls. And the target audience loved it :) The thing that struck me in talking with them about it was that they did not like Katniss when the read the books. They felt she was weak and didn't understand her ambivalences. But Jennifer Lawrence's performance helped them make sense of why she made many of her choices. They got that she wasn't weak, she was in really difficult circumstances.

Karen White 8/24/12, 9:59 AM  

Though I agree with several of your criticisms of the movie, I have to share that I saw this with ten 12 yr old girls. And the target audience loved it :) The thing that struck me in talking with them about it was that they did not like Katniss when the read the books. They felt she was weak and didn't understand her ambivalences. But Jennifer Lawrence's performance helped them make sense of why she made many of her choices. They got that she wasn't weak, she was in really difficult circumstances.

Amanda 8/24/12, 10:04 AM  

I'm probably in the minority on this, but I actually really liked the film. I felt like there's so much in the book that couldn't really be done with a camera, since it's all first person, and that they made it into something that is equally powerful, even if slightly different. The riots in District 11 in particular really struck me. And interestingly, Jason and I saw this together, and Jason, who has only read the first book, enjoyed the movie far more than the book. Which is really rare for him, as he doesn't generally like movies in the first place. But he felt like the book was overdone in places, and never bothered to read the rest of the series. He felt like the movie got rid of a lot of unnecessary from the book. I don't agree with him on those points, but I did still enjoy the movie and feel it was worthwhile.

I also purposely didn't reread the book before watching the movie - I didn't want it to influence me. I tried to see it with new eyes. (Or as new as possible, considering I've read the book four times now...)

Zibilee 8/24/12, 1:28 PM  

I was also a little underwhelmed by the movie, as I think I also had ideas of what things would look like, and how relationships would play out that the movie didn't fulfill. It seems as though it was a good movie, but not a great one, and that people who hadn't read the book would be confused or not invested enough in the film version. I know that everyone in my house read and loved the book, but the movie...well, it wasn't what I was expecting.

Meghan 8/25/12, 5:16 AM  

I did really like the movie, I think more than you, but I can understand your disappointment. It just felt less meaningful in so many ways, and they cut out a lot of what made the relationships special. My mom actually liked the movie so much that she read the book after and she definitely felt that a lot was missing and the book was a lot better.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 8/26/12, 8:59 AM  

This is a fair compare/contrast analysis -- I'm going to ask my older kids to read your review (they've both read the books and seen the movie). I - believe it or not - have yet to read THE HUNGER GAMES!

Jenners 8/26/12, 8:58 PM  

I would have to agree with you. I remember thinking the rule change at the end didn't work AT ALL. It was too quick and felt off. I didn't remember that happening the book .. .I thought Katniss just did it and they stopped her.

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