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Posted on Mar 27, 2012 in Reviews | 50 comments

The Hunger Games: A Review

Opening weekend has come and gone, having secured $155 million dollars in the bank, and making The Hunger Games the 3rd highest grossing opening weekend of all time (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Dark Knight). I saw the movie again last night (yay!) and I think enough time has passed that those who OMG!DESPERATELY needed to see the film probably have, so I can go into more depth and be a little more critical than I was in my last post about it.

Consider this your official warning for those who hate spoilers and/or those who hate The Hunger Games to stop reading now. (Though if you’re in the latter category, I have to ask, why? Just… why?) If you haven’t read the books yet, but intend to, you might also want to consider coming back to this entry later, since I’m sure there will be a few non-movie spoilers in here, too. I also apologize that this is probably going to be a really long and really wordy post, since, you know, I REALLY love The Hunger Games.

katniss and effie

As you already know, I loved the movie overall, and it was just as good the second time. Turns out, going at 6:30 on a Monday means an almost empty theatre which made it the perfect second-viewing experience. I’ve never been the kind of person to nitpick the little things when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. In fact, my favorite Harry Potter films were not the ones that followed the books to a T (like the first two), but the ones that took a few artistic and film-making liberties without detracting from the overall storyline (like 3, 4, and 8). As long as all the major plot points and characters are included, who cares that things didn’t happen exactly “the way it was in the book”? It’s only natural that some things will be left out and changed to make these adaptations into good MOVIES, as opposed to just page-by-page retellings of the books (which, granted, I would love, but any non-book-readers would decidedly not).

katniss

The movie is action-packed, well-cast, and extremely well-acted. I’ll start with casting: I thought they really hit the nail on the head with both of the main stars. Jennifer Lawrence made a fantastic, simultaneously vulnerable and stoic, Katniss. I thought she really looked the part, too. (Am I the only one who thinks she looks better as a brunette?) I heard a lot of initial complaints about Katniss’ casting at first: Lawrence is 20 but Katniss is supposed to be 16. Lawrence is too healthy-looking to be Katniss, who is supposed to be petite and kind of waifish. And I swear, if I hear one more thing about how she’s not the right race because she’s described as having “olive skin” in the book, I will shoot myself. I mean, seriously. Of all the things to care about!

Not only is it a non-issue for 20-somethings to play high school age kids these days (hello, ANY show on The CW!) but Katniss is supposed to have a very mature quality to her. After all, she had to essentially take over the role of provider for her family after her father died and her mother subsequently went catatonic for a while. As for the “too healthy looking” comments, yes, she is from a district where food is scarce and her family is poor, but Katnissis a badass hunter, yo! The book makes it very clear that once Katniss started hunting (which is illegal, so it makes sense that it took some time for her to start doing so regularly), her family didn’t starve.

Hopefully all qualms with regard to the casting of Katniss (say that 10x fast!) have been put to rest after seeing Lawrence’s performance anyway. That scene with her and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz, who was a surprising delight!) before she goes into the tube? Chills. Also, as mentioned, tears.

katniss pre fire

I also have mad love for the casting of Peeta. I think Josh Hutcherson is adorable, has immense charm, and is still boyish which is exactly what Peeta needs to be. I know that a lot of fans were upset that they didn’t cast more of a stud to play the part of Peeta, but I thought that he did a great job (and the blonde hair was very natural-looking, IMO). I also loved the contrast that you get between him and Gale, who is a giant with rakish, manly handsomeness, and is pretty much a physical opposite of Peeta. Aside from the physical though, I can kind of take-or-leave Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Perhaps it’s because he had so little screen time, or because he’s tainted from being Miley Cyrus’ boytoy but in general, meh.

My overall favorite casting choice was probably Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman though, teeth and everything. That man is truly flawless in every role he plays.

Caesar

Moving onto the main plot: As mentioned, I honestly didn’t feel like they left out anything crucial. Of course there were some things that happened in the book that would have been neat to see on the silver screen (the flashback of Katniss and Gale witnessing the redheaded girl being captured by the hovercraft outside District 12, or the muttations having the eyes of the Tributes, as examples), but leaving them out didn’t detract from the story in any way. In fact, not including those kinds of details may have increased overall understanding of what was going on to those that haven’t read the book. One example of this is how in the book, Katniss’ friend Madge was the one to give her the Mockingjay pin, and getting to wear it in the Arena wasn’t a secret, it was allowed. But the way they did it in the movie was still effective even without that exposition.

When talking with Sean (who hasn’t read the book) about whether there were any parts of the movie that were confusing, he said that the only thing for him was the flashback between Katniss and Peeta. In the book, the occurrence of Peeta purposefully burning the bread from his family’s bakery to be able to give to a starving Katniss is extremely significant to both characters. Without the narrative inside her head, however, we have no way of knowing how Katniss feels when Peeta’s name is called at The Reaping. There’s no way to know of the connection that already exists between them, despite them having barely ever spoken. For this reason, I also feel that Peeta’s revelation of being in love with Katniss while he’s being interviewed may have had slightly less impact to a non-book-reader as well (though I still loved it, obviously).

katniss i love you

One issue I’ve heard some people have with the movie is how Katniss’ first couple of days in the Arena don’t play out the same way as originally written. In the book, she nearly dies from dehydration at first, way before the whole forest-fire-plus-fireballs scenario. I totally understand why they chose to change this. Not only would it have slowed down the pace of the movie immensely, but it’s hard to showcase something like the effects of dehydration in a way that A) makes sense but is B) not boring. This change, as well as the general brevity of Peeta & Katniss’ time in the cave, are things that I can support because I felt that they really helped the pacing of the film overall.

Another thing that I’ve been hearing a lot about is critics’ displeasure with how the movies “glosses” over the multitude of deaths that occur. I actively disagree. Yes, this is a PG-13 movie so it’s obviously not as gory as the book describes, but I thought that the portrayals of the Tributes’ deaths were plenty gruesome and disturbing — especially paired with the aftermath shot of the initial bloodbath where the camera pans in on several of the dead Tributes’, including the face of one girl with her eyes still open. *shudder* Cato breaking the neck of the District 3 boy after Katniss blows up their food supplies was also particularly jarring to me (ugh, the sound!).

As I mentioned in my first impressions post, there was really only one part that detracted from the movie, for me. (I should insert that I didn’t really feel this way the second time around, but this is definitely how I felt after the first viewing.) I didn’t feel that the movie gave enough time for Katniss and Rue to forge their bond. The story moves incredibly quickly, from the tracker jacker attack (I imagined tracker jackers MUCH bigger, by the way) to their plan to blow up the Careers’ food, to (SPOILER ALERT!) Rue’s death. While I enjoyed the actresses’ scenes together (I also thought that Rue was extremely well-cast, and looked exactly as I pictured her), they really didn’t spend that much time together. I don’t think that Katniss’ hysteria over her death made as much sense to someone who hadn’t read the book, for that reason.

The book makes it very clear how protective Katniss is of Rue, how she reminds her of Prim and of how she COULD have been Prim, had Katniss not volunteered in the first place. Through her discourse with Rue, we learn so much about how the Districts operate, and why District 11 in particular is so ripe for rebellion. You just don’t get much of that from their short scenes together, unfortunately. Of course, I do think that Gary Ross (the director) did as good a job as he could with the time allotted for their relationship to develop. Goodness knows I cried! One of the most unfortunate effects of the midnight release viewing was that after the death scene (during which there was some intense SOBBING coming from the row behind us), the movie cuts to the riots in District 11 and then back to a hysterically crying Katniss. When they cut back to her, unfortunately the theatre erupted in laughter. I know it was likely because of all the residual emotional tension but still. I was ready to pimpslap some teenage girls, you better BELIEVE.

>katniss 1

Okay, so let’s move onto some of the deviations from the book that I absolutely LOVED. I see movie adaptations of books as an opportunity to explore things that we don’t get to see in novels (especially ones that follow a single character, like The Hunger Games). I really enjoyed getting to see into the Gamemaker’s control room and the tete-a-tetes between President Snow and Seneca Crane. I felt like the latter especially set up President Snow to become the truly heinous villain we see in the 2nd and 3rd book (since we don’t really see him at all in the first book, actually). I also loved the emphasis that the movie placed on the fact that The Hunger Games is a reality TV show. Yes, a totally sick, horrible one, but a show nonetheless. When you’re reading the book, and you’re there IN the Arena with Katniss, you kind of forget that’s what’s going on outside. The sports-like commentary with Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith really helped this hit home, too.

Showing the District 11 riot is also something that isn’t present in this book, but I was utterly enthralled by it and thought it was a really great addition. Unlike in the books, where you don’t get proof of unrest in the Districts for a long, long time, we were afforded a glimpse of the unhappiness of Panem’s citizens. I felt it was powerful and appropriate.

On a totally superficial note, I pretty much expected that Katniss and Peeta wouldn’t look too banged up at the final confrontation at the Cornucopia. I mean, this is still Hollywood, after all. They can’t get their beautiful stars too uglied up! I also was selfishly kind of happy that they didn’t end up amputating Peeta’s leg. After all, it was barely mentioned afterward in the books anyway! And I like my Peeta WHOLE. Always.

So there you have it! I’m sure I have even more (erratic) thoughts that I could go on about further, but let’s be honest: I’m probably pushing my luck with you lot as it is. Kudos to anyone who actually read through all of this, haha. The bottom line is: I clearly loved it, I think it’s an incredibly provocative book AND movie, and cannot wait until the second installment is released (slated for November 2013!). Happy Hunger Games!

Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Just want these Hunger Games posts to stop?

50 Comments

  1. Great review!!! I need to go see it again.

  2. Loved your review! AND it even helped me (a non reader but someone who saw the movie) with a few of the confusing moments in the movie! πŸ™‚ I want to see the next movie but the movie didn’t make me want to read the book – which is rare for me – but after your review it kind of makes me more intrigued about the details I missed out on. NOt sure I can handle the gore in writing as my imagination is probably 10X grosser than what can be portrayed in a movie… We’ll see πŸ˜‰

  3. Great review. I agree with pretty much everything you said, including Jennifer Lawrence as a brunette.

    I think my biggest and really only problem with this movie is I had trouble sperating it from the books. You are right that my favorite Harry Potter’s are the one’s where the director took more liberty’s without sacrificing the main plot.

    I think overall the movie was well done. I understood why they cut what they cut and liked what they added. The thing that still sits oddly with me is the whole concept plays out way better in the book in Katniss’s mind.

    Last point, I saw it with my brother who managed to not know anything about it except the general plot. After listening to his review on YouTube I find that as a non-book-reader-viewer he missed A LOT.

    • It’s really hard for me to imagine what it’s like to see these kinds of movies without any prior knowledge of the characters or plot, since I’m so heavily invested in both by the time they roll around. It’s a shame that some stuff wasn’t conveyed as well as I would have thought!

  4. I absolutely loved seeing the control room – the way they portrayed that was incredible to me and definitely had that kind of “Facebook” feeling like everyone there is just playing around and Crane was like “ooh, good idea, put that in there!” I completely agree about the reality show/sports commentary set up too – just loved it.

    I really also liked seeing the Districts and felt they did an exceptional job with that. District 12 definitely had the feeling of poverty and struggle I expected to see.

    As far as Rue and Katniss go, I have to agree that felt rushed to me but I understand they’re working with limited time. I was just thinking “how do we know Katniss can trust her?” even though I’ve read the books and knew how it would play out. I wasn’t super impressed with the Peeta/Katniss flashbacks either and felt that was probably really confusing for anyone who hadn’t read the books.

    The biggest problem I ever have with a midnight showing is the crowd – we didn’t have too much inappropriate laughter but the commenting! How hard is to keep your mouth shut? When they showed Gale on the screen looking sad about Katniss a girl behind me said, “I’m here for you baby,” and later when the other tribute from Rue’s district gets revenge there was an enthusiastic, “That’s how it’s DONE!” from one of the guys in the audience. But on the other hand, at the beginning of the movie when Gale says his name is in 42 times I really appreciated how the entire theater gasped in unison. It was one of those moments when you realize how invested everyone in the audience is and that makes the whole experience so much better. So I guess you could say I’m torn about the crowded theater situation.

    And P.S. Stanley Tucci is flawless and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

    • He is SO fantastic. He has such a wide variety of characters that he sells without question: Julia Child’s amazing husband? Sold. Gay fashionisto in Devil Wears Prada? Sold. Creepy serial killer and rapist in The Lovely Bones? SOLD. WTF! AMAZING!

  5. I, too, LOVED the movie and the books…but I did have one major disappointment. Why did they take out the part in the book where Katniss drugged Peeta to go back and get his drugs? For me, that was the moment (while reading) that I thought maybe she really *could* fall for him. To know exactly how to manipulate him to put her life in danger was one of the most crucial moments for me, and I think it’s also what turned the tide for her and Haymitch. So I’m not sure why they took that out.

    • I agree, I was expecting the drugging to happen when it came to that part in the movie (he REALLY didn’t wake up that entire time she was gone?) but I understand that they probably left it out for time. I mean, to take the time for her to find another parachute, read Haymitch’s message inside it, figure out that she needed to drug Peeta in order to go, etc, etc… it would have been a pretty significant chunk of climactic movie time. I thought that Jennifer Lawrence really sold her determination to save him (as well as her becoming-very-real-feelings for him) in that look she gave him right before she left the cave to go get the package. She’s so fantastic.

  6. I agree pretty much with everything about your review. My one main take away “feel” from the movie was that everything seemed to be compressed, but as I explained to Tay, I understood since they only had 2 1/2 hours to fit everything in. But yeah, good review, I actually read your entire post. πŸ˜‰

    • Haha! I guess there really is a first time for everything. πŸ˜‰

  7. I was upset that I didn’t cry…at all. That may be no fault of the movie, but still dissapointing! Did anyone else feel a lack of emotional impact? I’m re-reading the books right now and they are just SO MUCH BETTER. I do love Jennifer Lawrence and if you’ve seen any of her old indie movies you can totally see why they cast her. I’m so upset that we have to wait over a year for the next movie! I’ll be married by then, WTF!

    • I felt all the emotional impact pretty much because of the books. I mean, as I mentioned, I’m not sure I would have been so moved by Rue’s death if I didn’t have the book to back up the closeness and trust between them. That said, man, Katniss struggling against the Peacemakers and screaming “I VOLUNTEER!” in the beginning brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Jennifer Lawrence, I love you.

      • I started crying when she sang Prim back to sleep minutes into the movie! After reading the books, the movie was much more powerful. Especially that song, for some reason.

  8. First off–totally agree about the riot scene; I was so happy they included this, because it was an active way to portray a lot of the political undertones you don’t get in the movie simply because it’s a movie.

    I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Joanna about this, and my main complaint about the movie is that it lacked both the sense of urgency, and the depth of emotion that the book had. Of course, that’s to be expected; the movie was already long, and I was really pleased with all the scene choices, but by the time they got into the arena it was well past 1:00am and it was clear that there wouldn’t be enough time to do it all justice. Other than Katniss’s one-line exchange with Gale about a piece of bread, there’s really no mention of hunger. It is never clear how desperately people are starving; it’s never clear WHY Katniss is a good hunter; it’s never clear just how smart she is. And because it’s dealt with expositionally in the book, you never see the breadth of Katniss’s emotions, or Peeta’s emotions–although I will say I totally agree that both actors were perfectly cast and I want to lay in a field with Josh Hutcherson and tell him all my secrets.

    We clearly need to go to happy hour to talk about this, because I don’t want this comment to be as long as your actual post. I will say, though, that my fiancee (who has not read the books) saw the movie over the weekend and when I asked for his opinion, he called it “Twilight version two.” I refused to talk to him for several hours.

    • I’m not so sure about this fiance of yours…

      Haha, I agree! We need to meet and discuss AT LENGTH. I’d love to hear both of your opinions in further detail. MUST MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    • I love it! The cargo pants twinsies – amazing. How could you not braid your hair though?

      • I know I know…I’m wearing a fishtail today, though! TO SHOW MY ONGOING EXCITEMENT!!!!!!! I can’t wait to see it again. I’m reading them again right now too. Except, it’s really exhausting to go through this journey again. SO. MANY. EMOTIONS.

          • this rules.

  9. Liam Hemsworth is unquestionably more universally attractive than Josh Hutcherson. But I like Hutcherson’s boy-next-door quality and I’m glad that Peeta’s character was not as good looking as Gale. You fall for him because of his charm.

    • I agree. I mean, you’re not going to be able to say that Peeta is more HANDSOME than Gale. He’s not described as being incredibly good-looking in the book either, merely “medium height with a stocky build” and ashy blonde hair. But he just completely wins you over. Peeta foreverrrr!!

  10. I agree with you about pretty much everything. I definitely wish they had spent a little more time on Katniss and Rue’s relationship. The only thing thing I really wish had been in the movie was Haymitch falling off the stage at the reaping, I didn’t think he was nearly drunk enough in the movie! Also, I wish they had been dirtier by the end. After Katniss dug Peeta out of his hiding place he was in pristine clothing!

    And I had totally forgotten Peeta’s leg was amputated in the book!

  11. I love you, but I’m skipping this review for now. (You know why).
    But I wanted to say HI anyway and if I do go see the movie, I’ll come back and read this. πŸ™‚

    • Hahaha, well I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me! πŸ˜€

  12. Great review! I agree with most of it. I like the casting of Gale, though. And I think the Rue relationship was done well in an appropriate amount of time, although I was sad that they left out that Rue’s district sent Katniss a present later in the games.

    My main complaint was I didn’t think that the relationship between Peeta and Katniss was played up as well as it was in the books. It seemed too abrupt, and I didn’t like how he announced that the girl had come with him during the interview – the audience hardly reacted? It seemed anti-climatic and it was SO intense in the books. I agree that the bread scene flashback wasn’t really clearly portrayed, either. I also think the movie didn’t show as well that Peeta was with the other group for the first half of the games because he was trying to protect Katniss from them.

    Overall, though? LOVED the movie. Great casting/acting/yay! Loved Cinna and also loved the whole sports caster approach to the reality TV games, like you said. Also loved seeing the gamemasters and their cool computer equipment! They did an awesome job with that.

  13. Thanks for the review! The one thing I do want to say though is that I totally agree with the people who are complaining that Katniss is supposed to have an olive skin tone and that it DOES matter. There are so very few roles, let alone good ones, for people of color in mainstream cinema (seriously, how sick am I of having to watch minorities always be the sidekick/token/punchline)that I think its unfair and limiting to take away roles that were clearly written for minorities. While Jennifer Lawrence may have done a great job, I have to wonder why it was that they couldn’t find a minority to play that role. Just a thought…

    • You definitely have a valid point! But I think it’s also a little unfair to assume that “olive skin” automatically means non-Caucasian as well. I know plenty of women of Italian or Greek heritage that describe their skin as being olive-toned. And you certainly don’t hear me complaining that the only Asian character that made it on screen was the boy being bashed in the head with a brick during the recap of the prior year’s Hunger Games, haha. Admittedly, I would have loved to see a biracial Katniss though.

      Out of curiosity, who would you have imagined playing the role of Katniss?

      • Fair point that olive skin does not equal non-Caucasian. But I guess my issue is that it’s hard to name a biracial/darker skin toned actress; those actresses don’t usually get top billing. This could have been a great breakout role for someone. What about someone like Kat Graham from Vampire Diaries? (I know, I’m totally playing to your weaknesses! lol). I agree that I would have loved a more diverse cast, even in the background scenes. I guess I’m always a little disappointed because in my head books take place in the world I live in which is inhabited by a very diverse population (am in DC). But maybe we always fill in what we live and my world view is not Hollywood’s.
        Thanks for replying and being open to the discussion!

        • Haha! You know your audience well, don’t you? Well, except that I hate the character of Bonnie, ahahaha. I do think Kat Graham is a great actress though, and is incredibly beautiful to boot. Plus, we know from that show that she can certainly rock a bloody nose!

          I love being able to have this sort of discussion! I agree that living in DC does expose us to a really, really diverse population — moreso than in a lot of other parts of the country. I think it would have been fascinating if they were able to have a bunch of racially ambiguous actors playing the prominent roles in this movie. After all, the story is set how many years into an apocalyptic future? I think it’s totally reasonable to think that our races would have blended a little bit more by then, don’t you?

          • Everyone pretty much is exactly the way I pictured them in the books. Since District 12 is, essentially, Appalachia, it made sense to me that Katniss was Caucasion with some sort of very diluted Mediterranean or African ancestry.

            I DO NOT, in any way, understand the (very small, but very loud) uproar over the casting of Thresh and Rue with African American actors. Did those people not read the books? Very weird, I think.

  14. I saw the movie over the weekend with my fiance and a girlfriend- none of us had read the book, but thought it was a good movie! Now we’re all starting to read the series πŸ™‚ Hopefully I’ll finish before the second movie comes out…

  15. I should start by saying that I loved the books and really did like the movie!

    My biggest issue was with Haymitch. I have no idea why they didn’t show him at the Reaping, drunk and falling off the stage. You meet him on the train and if you haven’t read the books, you really don’t know who he is. A former winner, maybe? Their mentor? And why is he sober from then on? Very odd.

    Things I also didn’t like:

    *No background on their district. Why are they hunting? Are they hungry?

    *Absolutely zippo explanation as to who Gale was or why he was important. Friend? Boyfriend? Why are we supposed to care about him? I heard people didn’t like Liam Hemsworth in that role, but honestly, you could have put a cardboard cutout there and it would have done the same thing for all the lines he had. We’ll see how he holds his own in the third movie.

    *Zero explanation as to why Gale’s name was in the reaping ball 43 times. Missed opportunity for Effie Trinket to explain the tesserae at the reaping.

    *The shaky-Blair-Witch-handheld-camera filming. While I get it, it’s also hard to watch.

    *Not drugging Peeta to go get their item at the feast.

    I agree with you on not enough of a forged bond between Rue and Katniss. I also think a LOT of the movie was spent on setup and the Arena seemed to last maybe four days. I know they need to show it in a way that’s not boring, but even snippets of Katniss wandering on her own, or the tributes tracking, or Katniss and Rue sharing a meal, or something to imply that the Arena lasted more than a few days.

  16. Great review! I agree with most of it–especially about the guys. Honestly, I didn’t have much faith in Josh Hutcherson (based entirely on his past acting credits. I don’t think I’ve actually seen him in anything else), but I was really impressed with him in this. Gale, eh…I could take or leave him. Well, honestly, I could leave him. I don’t know if it was his acting or if they were trying to push the love triangle thing, but he didn’t come off very well to me.

    I also loved Stanley Tucci–I mean, I always love Stanley Tucci and critiquing his acting (which is always brilliant) isn’t really needed. What I really liked was how they used his character to explain things to the viewers that were clear to readers of the book. Very well done!

    I do have one thing that really, really bugged me…and it is such a little thing. But, hello, Buttercup! The cat is supposed to be orange (hence the name) and not a Tuxedo cat. Yes, I know the cat was in it for less than 2 seconds, but–in the book–he’s such an important symbol. And, I love ginger cats. So, yeah, little fail in my book there….

  17. I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but someone just sent it to me and I couldn’t stop laughing for about 5 minutes, so I figured you’d appreciate it and I had to share: http://pinterest.com/pin/285134220128004475/

  18. Ok. I don’t think the movie would have made me cry had I not just finished re-reading it two days before the premiere. I was in Collins’ world as I was watching it, and totally agree that those who haven’t read the book miss significant emotions and key elements to the text. I am weird about books–>movies and absolutely REFUSE to watch any of the Harry Potter movies (long, long story). This was the FIRST movie from a book that I was SUPER excited to see. And I am really glad that my husband (who is a non-reader who read the books–all 3–in less than three weeks!) wanted to go to the midnight premiere. I haven’t been able to talk to any of my friends (they haven’t seen it yet), and here are my major frustrations:
    1. Haymitch talking to Seneca Crane about manipulating the games. PISSED.ME.OFF. While Haymitch is a key to Katniss’ survival, this manipulation made me really mad.
    2. Peeta not teaching Katniss about the bread from the districts, ergo, District 11 didn’t send Katniss bread to thank her for her treatment of Rue, ergo, an enormous piece of the puzzle is missed. Yes, showing the riots in District 11 conveyed somewhat the same message, but it isn’t the same as knowing and feeling the hunger and poverty in the districts, and what it would cost to send such a gift to a tribute of an opposing District.
    3. Not learning about District 11 from Rue’s perspective. In the book everything is so foreign, and getting a glimpse of another district from a human perspective brings the far-reaching horror shows that it isn’t just one District suffering in a major way.
    4. Madge/her father’s role –Katniss sells strawberries to the mayor–for his daughter. In his purchasing, he is rebelling in his own (albeit tiny) way. I wonder how the rebellion and ramifications will be played out in the other two films.
    5. I love the story Katniss shares with Peeta about how she got Prim her goat. Irked me that so much of Peeta and Katniss’ time was truncated.
    6. I was SO MAD that Katniss didn’t drug Peeta. That moment was KEY in the book. Key in terms of trust, Haymitch’s role in their survival, and key to their relationship.
    7. Mutts? Avoxes? Peeta and Katniss’ time on the roof of the Capital building? Mockingjay explanation? Not. Cool.
    8. I wanted more of Cinna.

    Loved:
    1. I actually said out loud “Brilliant” when the mini-video broke in to explain the tracker-jackers. Awesome.
    2. Depiction of Katniss’ father’s death.
    3. Peeta
    4. The way the deaths were portrayed. Brutal without being gory and over-the-top. Totally well-done.
    5. The bowl of berries and locked door. EFFING. AWESOME!!!
    6. How the film ended with Snow and the stairs. DAMN. I can’t wait for the next film. I am going to re-read book 2 with new eyes!!

    My husband was really irritated with how they cast Gale. He said that he is “too jock” and not wiry enough to be a good Gale. I thought that was interesting…
    I’m sorry this is long, I just have been itching to talk to someone about this movie!!!

  19. I have not seen the movie yet, but have read the first two books. I often don’t go to movies after reading the book because I’m so afraid I will be disappointed. After hearing the reviews though, I do think that I will go see it though. That’s what is always missed, is the emotional connection betweet the characters when they go from book to movie. There just isn’t time,especially in an action packed movie like this. Thanks for the review!

  20. My main glaring miss was the hunger issue. Other than telling Gale not to let her family starve there is little real evidence of their hunger. No pigging out on the train?? Hello?! That would’ve taken 25 seconds…

  21. So I read your entire review, and every single one of these comments! omg. I LOVED the movie. Ok, here are my thoughts.

    I agree that the deviations from the book were done well. It would have been impossible to keep in every single thing and keep it a 2.5 hour movie. It’s hard though because I also agree that alot of what was left out was crucial to the book. Developing Katniss and Rue’s relationship more before her death, Katniss drugging Peeta, both examples of crucial elements in the story – but how do you do that in a movie? Interesting really. I also think it is so important to read the book first to really capture the true essence of this movie. I felt that if I hadn’t read the book, I’d be all kinds of confused.
    -Why the flashbacks to the bread – what is that all about.
    -Why are all these people in the Capitol dressed in rediculous colors and flair.
    -What’s what with the rebellion scene after Rue’s death?
    -What is the nature of Katniss and Gale’s relationship?
    -Why do people appear so poor?
    -Why is Katniss’ mother so checked out?

    Not only that, but I mean, reading the book first makes you recognize whats missing and really think about it more, at least for me. Without that, you kind of don’t know what you don’t know, so can you really formulate a true opinion as to whether it was a good movie or not? I mean, I guess you can, if you define a good movie as just if it made sense and was entertaining. But I think there is alot more to that if it is based on a book. I can’t really judge if its a good movie unless I know if it speaks to the book, and I don’t know that unless I read the book first! Why was something not included? What was its real relevance to the bigger picture? You could watch it and think it was great and made perfect sense, and that’s great, but if you didn’t read the book, there is so much more you could be missing because movie does not equal book! I am fully aware that I saw the last Harry Potter movie and didn’t read the book, and I thought it was great, but I also recognize that with that I am ignorant to probably a whole different experience had I read the book first. I just chose to go that route with Harry Potter.

    One of my favorite lines is when Peeta says,

    “I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them they don’t own me. If I’m going to die, I want to still be me.”

    One thing the movie did for me is kind of made that circle back. I don’t know if it was supposed to, but it did. Katniss, and Peeta for that matter, they did that. They didn’t die, but they were willing to. They were willing to eat the berries and die and do so in a way to show the Capitol that they don’t own them, because no one would have won – they would have both died. They’d still be, them. In the end they both won and showed the Capitol that it DOESN’T own them. They really showed them up. Capitol seems pissed, but it also seems like some sort of battle between good and evil is about to start now. I haven’t read the second book yet, but now I really want to because that’s kind of what I came away with. Again I really don’t know if that was meant to be a connection that was to be made, but I made it and I like how it made me feel about it so I’m going with it. ar. FEELINGS.

    Anywho. Them be my thoughts. Good stuff FO SHO. I am starting the second book NEOWW!

  22. hi, gretchen!
    i LOVED your review and like tiff, totally agree with everything. i adore jennifer lawerence…she was amazing! i’m in total agreement with the lack of time to build the relationship between katniss and rue. of course, i still weeped when she died and thought that what we saw of rue was pitch perfect, but i do wish there had been more. then again, i just wish there was lots more…it would have been perfectly content to sit in that theatre for 5 hours. πŸ™‚
    and stanley tucci is so freakin’ fantastic. i love him.

    love your blog! πŸ™‚

  23. I have to agree and disagree with some of the things in your review. In any movie adaptation there are things that have to be cut in order to keep the flow of a film and some elements can be added to enhance understanding.

    What I missed were simple things that would not have taken much more time or distract from the story.

    1. Why did Rue put leaves on the tracker jacker stings?
    2. How would Gale not let them starve? And what is their relationship?
    3. The bread from District 11?
    4. Peeta “telling” Haymitch to take care of Katniss which is why she gets all the help. Also the game Haymitch plays with her. Not giving her things when she is close by (water early on) and convincing her to “play” for sponsor to get more items (kissing Peeta).
    5. Katniss lifting her bow at Peeta at the end before he drops his knife and says she can kill him.

    I saw the movie with Hunni who didn’t read the books and was confused at many points. He leaned over and asked lots of questions, so I can’t imagine what a non-reader would think of the movie without some key details. And I don’t know how they will lead into the next movies without some of the things they cut.

  24. I’ve read all the books and love them. I also loved the movie and really agree with everything you reviewed. Some of my absolute favorite things were: the commentary from Caesar and Claudius, the peaks inside the control room and the technology, and especially the berries for Seneca. Oooh and the commentary explanations of the tracker jackers and Katniss’ hallucination of Caesar in the woods was also brilliant!!

    (CATCHING FIRE BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD):

    I was a little disappointed that they changed the origins of the Mockingjay pin, especially because we later learn why that particular pin was so meaningful to Katniss, Madge, and both of their mothers. I was also sad that we didn’t learn about the redheaded Avox girl or how Katniss and Gale sold game to Peacekeepers. Both of those things are later important when Darius is replaced and becomes an Avox! πŸ™

    Overall, I’m extremely happy with the movie and the casting. I understand that most of the side storylines can’t make the cut, but I found some of them pretty important.

    • I agree, the Avox stuff I thought was important because of the setup for the future books (the end of Catching Fire and all of Mockingjay, obvi) but at least they did have a passing line about how they sell game to Peacekeepers right at the beginning, when Katniss is pissed that Gale scared off the deer? It’ll be really interesting to see how the spin the other developments in the next two movies, that’s for sure!

  25. I actually don’t like the fact that they showed the riots in District 11 in this movie. It was too soon, they needed to build up the tensions a bit more before they exposed the riots.

    I really liked the movie, it just seemed a bit rushed. Then again the movie would have (and should have been) 5 hours long if they included everything. A girl can wish.

    • My husband and I felt the same way about the riots. We’ll see how they do Catching Fire, I guess.

  26. Good review, Gretch! Overall, I liked the movie but I didn’t LOVE it. I think I had really high expectations because I am still riding the high of reading the books and everyone was giving it rave reviews.

    My main “complaint” about the movie is that it felt like they cut out or minimized a lot of the hardship in the arena. Like when Katniss practically dies of dehydration in the first day or two of being in the arena, the scarcity of food and the bitterly cold nights, how bad the injuries are from the fireballs and the tracker jacker stings, and just how sick and injured the two main characters were at the end of the Games. I mean, Katniss could only hear out of one ear and had a major head trauma from Clove’s knife…Peeta barely recovered from like, total sepsis and pulled the tourniquet off of his leg in the final moments of the arena so Katniss would kill him. I just kind of felt like the movie made the arena seem “easy”. A relative term, obviously, but it didn’t have the intensity or the desperation that the book had.

    I also felt that there were a lot of points that non-book readers wouldn’t have picked up on…especially the relationship between Katniss and Peeta at the end of the book. Yes, she developed some real feelings for him, but even she doesn’t know if it is love or just some kind of desperate responsibility to get them both home alive. I thought from a non-book readers perspective, it would have seemed that Katniss was falling in love with Peeta too, but only if you read the book would you have known that it was a way more complicated situation than that. I feel like the beginning of the next movie, if they stay true to the book in the fact that Peeta and Katniss come to the (sometimes a little bit bitter) understanding that they are in a relationship only for show, will be confusing for people.

    And you thought your post was long! Melissa=marathon commenter! Ha!

    • I actually did not read the books before seeing The Hunger Games. I did read all three after seeing it, and then re-watched it. So I can speak from both experiences. I actually thought Jennifer Lawrence did such a great job acting, that even without reading the books I picked up on her mainly acting in love with Peeta for the sake of the games. Of course, I didn’t FULLY pick up on all the subtleties of that, but I knew she was not sure if she loved Peeta or not. I also picked up on the fact that Gale loved her, but with all the focus on his facial expressions as he watched the games, it was somewhat obvious.

    • Excellent timing! I’ve been looking for 72 acres of land in North Caroline to buy… πŸ˜‰

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