Let’s get it off my chest: I was disappointed with the movie. It didn’t live up to the excitement of the books, which I read so quickly that I surprised myself.
If we take a step back, I did read the books because of the growing hype for the movies. My dearest friend lent me the books so I could give it a try, and to everyone’s surprise, I was done with all three within a week, and I enjoyed them. Were they perfect? No, of course not. They are YA books and do not deal with some of the most interesting issues deeply enough. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy the story.
I remember thinking, when I read the first book, that it was perfect for a movie, enough story about Katniss, enough action that you could imagine looking good on the screen, and a love triangle of sorts, which was awkwardly not a love story thanks to Katniss. As everyone else did, I also wondered how it would be when we lost Katniss’ point of view and looked at things from outside. What would we lose? What would we gain?
Turns out, we lost more than what we gained.
The most disappointing loss was Katniss’ (and Gale’s) critic to Panem and the system they live in, throughout the book, especially in the lead-up to the games itself. Associations Katniss makes, things that she can tell about her district, her detailed struggle to feed her family and the system they live in. This includes the strange dependence of the whole district 12, along with its mayor, who purchase game from Katniss and Gale, which was mostly left out of the adaptation. I understand simplifying some things to make it work for the movie (like leaving out Katniss’ friendship with the mayor’s daughter), but in the end, all the little things left out up to the games ignore important things about the lives of the District 12 residents.
Unfortunately, what I was really hoping for in terms of “wow moments” did not happen. There are these wow moments in the books, Katniss and Peeta with their District outfits on the chariots, with this amazing dresses, Katniss dazzling with her other dress during the interviews, which I was hoping the movie would do a good job with, because, you know, visual effects! Yes, they looked like they were on fire, but they didn’t impress. At all. Neither did the over the top Capitol make-up, because we didn’t have a time to stop and discuss how over the top they are.
Another thing that really really bothered me was a scene change that I do not understand. As I said, I understand certain things being left out, because they take screen time that can be explained otherwise (e.g. Haymitch being über-drunk during the reaping), but the interviews in the Capitol… the interviews! In the book, the tributes are all on stage, so when Peeta does what he does, cameras turn on Katniss who is taken by surprise and embarassed geniunely, and live. That is why she gets so angry with Peeta after the interviews. Cut out the part where she is on camera during Peeta’s confession, none of her lines make any sense. “You made me look weak” she says, but she didn’t look anything because she was off camera! What is the problem with putting 24 people on stage? I can’t see a big issue with stage or space or budget issues, so I don’t grasp why this was done. And it just bothers me.
So those are my biggest issues with the movies. Did I enjoy the movie? Somewhat. I thought it could be done better. That it deserved to be done better. I still prefer the books, which are great entertainment.
If you are interested for more, go ahead and read Alyssa Rosenberg over at ThinkProgress writing about The Hunger Games and economic inequality. Or head over to Bitch Magazine’s podcast review of The Hunger Games which touches upon important points (positive and negative), such as Gale’s terrible casting, Stanley Tucci’s wonderfulness and the adaptation’s lack of substance.