The Hunger Games: Book/Movie Comparison

I have quite a few Book/Movie Comparison posts on my old blog and it’s definitely time for another!

I read the Hunger Games a couple years ago (2010) and I loved it. Although Mockingjay wasn’t as amazing as I expected, but I still adored the series as a whole. I talked my sisters into watching it, avidly watched the news of the movie and, of course, saw the midnight premiere. Do I think it measures up to the book? Read on and you’ll see. 😉

Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss. Her acting captured Katniss’ introversion, strength, determination, and her love for Prim. Every now and then, her acting (and scenes in general) were a little too understated. For example, when Peeta confesses his feelings for her, she just stares blankly at the screen. I didn’t like her acting much in her interview, either. She was kind of nondescript, borderline boring.

Or Prim’s death. I cried more during the video embedded below than the scene in the movie. It’s like they were so afraid of being cheesy that they avoided any real, deep emotion. There are some scenes, especially in the upcoming books, that need to be intense and really grab your heart and rip it out of your chest.

I thought Josh Hutcherson as Peeta did a great job. He was charming and friendly, but still had a lot of strength.

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. . .I think there could have been improvement for Haymitch’s character. He wasn’t a drunk wreck. He seemed to have his head on pretty tight, and it didn’t show how winning the games was so hard on him that he escaped into drink to push away the past.

The minor characters like Cinna, Effie (they never said her name in the movie), or Caesar Flickerman, were all spot-on.

I loved the chance to see the Capitol. The movie aptly created a futuristic sci-fi world with eccentric citizens and their bloodlust that they see as a desire for entertainment. It was very neat to see the behind-the-scenes stuff with the room where Seneca Crane would tell the Gamemakers what to do next and the scenes with President Snow. I did read one critique, though, that made a lot of sense to me: the scene with President Snow and Seneca Crane was a little too early in the narrative, that Snow shouldn’t have felt threatened yet, but thirty minutes later, it would have been better. I agree with that.

The arena was almost exactly as I imagined it, aside from how the cornucopia was more futuristic and how the dehydration bit was taken out. The fire and the tracker jackers were intense scenes! The muttations weren’t as horrifying as I’d imagined, but I’m not sure how they could have made them look like the tributes that had died without bordering on cheesy. District 12 had a very rural, poor feeling, and I loved how the movie distinguished between the districts and their way of life and the Capitol.

The movie definitely has a voyeuristic feel, which is what I feel like Suzanne Collins was trying to get across with the reality TV aspect. The movie definitely captures the class differences between the districts and the Capitol, which I saw as a big theme in the books.

A few people complained that the deaths were glossed over with fast, shaky camera shots, and I can see that. These kids die at the hands of the Capitol purely for the sake of entertainment and although at the heart of it, we’re horrified, they don’t give us enough time to really feel that horror. I know they were trying to avoid an R rating, but I feel like they could have made the deaths a little stronger, a little more horrible because that is what the theme is about, the injustice and horror. We started rooting for Katniss and Peeta to win when we should have wanted them not just to win, but to beat the entire system somehow. We want them out of there completely, we shouldn’t want them to win because then that means they have to kill 22 other kids, but I think the movie effectively portrayed the

What Was Lost
There were some relationships and minor characters I missed: Madge, Haymitch’s true drunkenness, Katniss’ team of stylists. I also thought the arena part flew by pretty quickly. It was almost easy compared to Katniss’ bought with dehydration. I remember in the end of the book they’re emaciated, scarred, and generally in horrible shape, but in the movie they look pretty much the same except for bloodied and dirty.

But this section is not to list off scenes or characters in the book. It’s meant to critique what about the book is missing from the film adaptation. One thing I really liked about the book is Katniss’ thoughts — her strategy, her thoughts of Haymitch and his plans, her masquerading romance with Peeta. We know that she is faking it with Peeta, but we get the feeling that Peeta is being genuine. In the movie, it’s pretty unclear what she actually feels, and it doesn’t even address that they had different intentions during their romantic parts.

What Was Gained
As with most movie adaptations, I just love the chance to see my favorite scenes and characters realized visually. For example, Katniss’ hallucinations, Cesar Flickerman’s charisma, the eccentricity of the Capitol.

But the book was limited to Katniss’ point of view and while that was one aspect I loved, I also thought it was great that the movie got to explore more than just what she saw. The scenes with President Snow and Seneca Crane, the TV coverage with Cesar Flickerman, the reactions back in the districts. We really got a chance to see a wider spectrum of Katniss’ world.

Over all, I liked this movie. If I had to just choose one thing that could be stronger, it would be the emotional reactions of the actors. But it was one of my favorite movies of the year, and I am eagerly awaiting Catching Fire, which comes out November 2013.

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