Holy Hunger Games, Batman! A Book VS Movie Review

24 Mar

May the odds be ever in your favor.

This phrase should be a familiar one to any of you out there who had the pleasure of reading Suzanne Collin’s book, The Hunger Games. And even more familiar to you non-readers out there who have been recently bombarded with advertisements for the new film based on the novel.¬† However, the odds will definitely not be in your favor, if you see this movie before first familiarizing yourself with the novel.

Though the movie got nothing but whining and mainly unpleasant reviews yesterday morning–my friends and I had our minds set on going. But once in the theater, lights dim and room packed with eager faces, I couldn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. Then–the camera had a seizure. The opening scene introduces Katniss Everdeen’s home in District 12. The problem was–that apparently the camera man was brand new, and had never heard of a Tripod. The opening scene, which should have been fairly calm, just setting the scene, was so jumpy and chopped-looking that I felt momentarily cross-eyed.

However, after a few moments, the overly bouncing camera style improved slightly, and presented to the audience a very, Schindler’s List, feeling moment: The Reaping. Filmed in a toned done color scheme, and with terrified children lined up according to age and height all in drab, almost unformed “best clothes”–I could only compare their small, frightened faces to images from Nazi Detention Camps. I loved this parallel. A lone oppressive government, crushing the spirit of it’s”underdogs” as Snow calls them later in the film, is very much reminiscent of the Nazi Regime.

Fast forward to the main event–the blood, tears and gore of the event known as, The Hunger Games. What is the Hunger Games you may ask? A brutal, fight to the death between 24 children. If that’s not enough to make you ask–WHAT?–then you have no feelings. Our journey continues to follow Katniss, who volunteered to save her little sister, Primrose from having to fight, as she tries to impress the public of Panam. Why? Because this sick and twisted “game” has Sponsors of course. Not only do these children have to worry about the other “tributes”, but also, how to survive a harsh and contrived wilderness environment and how to impress “Sponsors” that will pay to send them parachuted gifts in the wilderness that could ultimately save their life.

How does Katniss survive? By playing up the Romance card with fellow district 12 Tribute, Peeta Meelak of course. Now, here is around the time where things will get hazy for all of you non-readers out there. As the movie has a time limit, you are not given the amount of information needed to establish how emotionally torn and how difficult this whole thing is for our leading lady, Katniss. The relationship instead, feels flat and more inauthentic than I believe it should have felt. Any non-reader could have easily brushed aside most of the moments that should have been establishing relationships in this film, including the relationship between Gale and Katniss, which is shown in small reaction shots. As someone who read the books over a year ago, I laughed a little at these shots, because I knew how awful the whole thing was. Non-readers may not have understood why this was happening and found it generally funny due to awkwardness. In fact, the whole segment of the movie while Katniss tries to survive the games would feel confusing and almost in genuine or over-the-top if I hadn’t read the novel. The movie lacks the proper introduction or analysis of characters that you get in the novel, so the kids chasing each other around feels more like Lord of the Flies, than really intimidating.(Though still very much unnerving)

The finale is also a real miss-out for anyone who hadn’t read the book. Mutts or mutants, are never really explained, so the giant man-eating dog-creatures that chase Katniss and Peeta, and eat a few other players, are just not as impressive in the film. In the novel, it is brought to light that these creatures resemble fallen Tributes as if they were made from parts of them. Both grim and terrifying in the novel, these dog-creatures fall short in the film when they are supposed to be a strong finale.

All and all, I liked the movie. It wasn’t nearly as poorly done as all the critics seemed to imply, as long as you can get past the bad camera-angles. It helps too, I think, that I had read the novels. For once, I felt that this movie was geared toward the avid-reader, putting those out of the loop, out of favor.


2 Responses to “Holy Hunger Games, Batman! A Book VS Movie Review”

  1. backtothebookshelf March 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Good review. I agree with what you said about how Katniss faking her relationship with Peeta would be confusing for those who hadn’t read the book. I went with a group of both book fans and people who had barely heard of the Hunger Games, and the latter group was a little perplexed.
    And while I’m glad they toned down some of the violence of the final scene, it loses some of its urgency when Peeta is not in danger of dying from his injuries. However, I think the Muttations being based on the other contestants would have been too confusing for those who hadn’t read the books, so I was okay with that being cut out.

    • suddenleigh March 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Hm, yes–for the movie itself I suppose that would be more confusing with the mutts. But also–more terrifying. Mainly, I think the lack of mutt explanation would be the reason behind any confusion though. All Katniss would have had to do was point out that the Mutts looked like x-people. Probably Rue because the audience had time to learn her name if there had been more Mutt info.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: