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Thread: The Hunger Games
March 26th, 2012, 03:44 AM #1
The Hunger Games
Here is the from my blog:
Seeing as how I just wrote a review for the novel, I will skip the small talk as well as the plot synopsis (the movie adaptation has the decency to follow the book pretty closely), and go straight to the question of whether The Hunger Games has made a good transition from the pages to the big screen.
I would say that considering the source material, it definitely has. The movie is a well-paced and compelling affair, following the book yet straying when the narrative flow demands it. I disagree with very few changes (the lack of the Avox storyline, the diminished presence of Rue and Haymitch and the missing origin of the wolflike creatures), and as a whole I think that director-screenwriter Gary Ross, with the help of the book's writer Suzanne Collins, has created the best possible script to both honor and not be constrained by the original.
That said, The Hunger Games falls short in weird ways, becoming a strange mirror of the novel's shortcomings (check out my review). What dystopian traits the books tells about, the visual adaptation is trying to show. Shaky cam is used freely in the District 12 scenes and the action sequences to depict the almost documentary day-to-day misery of the people outside the Capitol, and the immediacy of the fight for survival. The contrast with the oppressing opulence of the Capitol, where everything is monumental and the people are colorful, pale and strangely lifeless in their joy, is striking. At the same time the director and the operator exhibit real talent in not a few occasions, with wonderful camera angles and artful scene dynamic, with the bread flashback as my particular favorite. Special effects are used to enhance rather than steal the scene, and are again combined with a distinct visual style that you can recognize among the pile of "same old" that modern Hollywood presents to us in recent years.
At the same time however, none of these elements really lasts long enough for it to stamp itself in your memory. It's all kinda there, but not really. The visuals of the Capitol are kinda marvelous and threatening, but not really. The action is kinda stressful and frantic, but not really. Even acting is kinda pretty good - especially in the cases of Haymitch (Woodie Harrelson) and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) - but not really, and this last one is a huge shame, because both the characters and their corresponding actors could do so much more if the script would just utilize them.
Katniss herself is shockingly more likeable than the book version. Not that Jennifer Lawrence is that special - in fact I felt that she had slightly more curves than a child coming from a starving community should, and she was constantly giving me a vaguely unpleasant vibe - but since we are out of her head, there is no need to be witness to her embarrassing singlemindedness and her inability to see what's right in front of her face when it comes to Peeta.
With all this criticism, it might not be entirely clear that I actually enjoyed the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games the same way as I enjoyed the original. In fact, in some ways, it is even a little bit better. It has a flawed grace and as far as adaptations of hit YA novels go it's top notch. In fact, it's easily among the best ones of recent years. The movie has its own distinct visual style, and there is not a single dull moment in it. Most of its failings come from the source material and are unavoidable, and the ones it has invented on its own do not really detract from the enjoyment. It's a sad fact that - just like the book - it could simply have been much better. The potential is there, and even if the end result is good, it bugs me when I could tell it could have been amazing. Oh well, they still have two more movies to get it right. In the mean time, this one is definitely worth watching.
Last edited by PeterWilliam; March 26th, 2012 at 12:00 PM. Reason: link
March 26th, 2012, 06:38 AM #2Spoiler:I didn't like that they basically took the temperature, thirst and Katniss' relationship with her father completely out of the story. They pared down the stuff on the train to almost nothing, so then when they get to the Capitol Katniss' reactions to the stylists seems almost out of character. I agree some of the scenes were visualized pretty well but just as many I thought were done in a silly Hollywood sort of way.
Anyways, I give it more like 6/10.
March 26th, 2012, 12:23 PM #3
I have yet to see the movie.
I've never really gotten over the fact that the book is Battle Royale. I mean - I actually prefer it to the over-cliched Japanese tournoment, and there's a lot more outside information.
But when the MAIN plot revolves around the same plot device so... blatently, it's always kinda' struck me as 'Author read/watched BR; wanted to rewrite it better; cashed in.'
March 27th, 2012, 04:31 AM #4
March 27th, 2012, 07:04 PM #5
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Saw The Hunger Games. It's a keeper.
Yes, there were deviations from the book but they were justified by the needs of the movie. Little things such as who presented Katniss with the mockingjay pin eliminated the need for more explanation and made the script that much more taut. The reviewer who complained that the scene of Katniss and Peeta at the end of the book missed the fact the scene was competently suggested by the final dialogue between the two. The scenes of Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane and his crew orchestrating the flow of the games gave a much more clear depiction of the game show trope that the book satirized than the book did. The movie was a complete whole and you cannot ask for more.
The cast was superb. I had reservations about the casting of Peeta but Josh Hutcherson was excellent. Stanley Tucci as Ceasar Flickerman was superb. He performed the role to pitch perfect and his bits of commentary during the game were so accurate I almost fell off my chair LMAO. Elizabeth Banks made Effie seem real and that was not an easy feat. Even Woody Harrelson turned out be better than I had anticipated.
Jennifer Lawrence is as good an actress as we've seen. So much of the movie concentrated on her – in close-up – requiring expressions to fill in for missing thought streams and she played it to perfection.
The violence required by the book came across as horrifying without the need for concentrating on the gore. That was appropriate ass the gore wasn't the point, the games were the point.
The sole objection I have is to the use of the hand-held camera, particularly at the movie's outset. I feared the whole movie was shot with that technique but my fears were misplaced. The opening was just too jumpy for my tastes.
My compliments to Gary Ross and crew. That was great entertainment.
March 28th, 2012, 10:49 PM #6
Besides, Battle Royale was not exactly a mainstream blockbuster in the USA, so if Collins claims she's never seen it, she might be actually telling the truth.
March 30th, 2012, 01:15 PM #7
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Thought the film was much better than the book. A well realised vision of a future that might not be far away. Youth fighting to stay alive. Youth fighting for jobs in our current society. Everything so competitive and very little consideration or those less able.
I think it should also make people who engage 'reality tv' have a look at themselves?
April 5th, 2012, 07:45 AM #8
The similarities between "Battle Royale" and "The Hunger Games" are really quite superficial, and I honestly don't see everyone's assertion the the latter stole from the former.
"The Hunger Games" is clearly and obviously a retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur; a fact the author herself has openly acknowledged.
Even on a really basic level, the premise to the two stories is significantly different; in fact the only real similarities is "children on an island fight to the death" in which case both of them ripped off "Lord of the Flies".
April 18th, 2012, 04:38 AM #9
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Thanks for this all, the movie was good to watch and it got good revies and viewers rating.
April 18th, 2012, 11:25 AM #10
Saw the movie. It's better than the Harry Potter junk but I wouldn't take the time to read the book. Barely science fiction. I suppose it is a satire of reality television but an otherwise shallow story.
Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin is far better.
April 19th, 2012, 07:28 AM #11
Like I said, I know only the main plot premise is the same with lots of changed and added elements, and if anything, I prefer The Hunger Games. However, the whole 'set tournoment by an evil state leads to Rebellion,' thing is a lot more specific than any of the list of examples, except Ender's Game which I haven't read so can't comment on.
Anyways, I saw the movie. It had good entertainment value though the actual 'Games' part seemed a little dry - most deaths were off screen. It would have been nice for it not to be so obvious who was going to live or die. I also find it hard to believe that some really young kid has never died before in these things, so why did Rue's death shock people into riots?
I loved the reality-TV/Sponsers element, I loved Katniss being a semi-competant main character. The scene with the arrow and the judges was nice. Oh, and Woody! YEY!
I would have wrote it different, I think. Made the battleground somewhere near District 12, and had Katniss recognize the deer from a few days prior, since they were so 'rare'. Then they plan an escape and Rebel that way. The whole 'Oh, they win,' was too obvious, and repeating the format for a second book isn't appealing to me, personally.
April 19th, 2012, 07:38 AM #12
It has been a couple weeks or so since I saw the movie, but it has stuck with me. It was intense and beautiful and held me and took me away like no movie has done in quite a while. Can't wait for the sequel.
April 20th, 2012, 02:23 AM #13
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Hi friends, Yesterday we had gone to THE HUNGER GAMES movie with my all friends.Its a awesome movie. My all friends to like this movie.
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April 20th, 2012, 09:46 AM #14
No sir, didn't like it.
So many problems with the entire premise. If this has been going on for 75 years, why isn't every district training their children to survive this thing instead of sitting around hoping they don't get picked? If volunteers are allowed, why doesn't every district offer up trained, fit 18-year olds instead of taking the chance some poor 12-year old gets picked at random? If this is the television spectacle it's depicted to be, why are any of the tributes remotely surprised by anything they encounter, since it seems like every step of the process is documented by dozens of cameras? It just feels like Collins hit on the "teens as gladiators" idea and didn't fully think through the implications. Now, if this had been the story of the very first Hunger Games, all those problems go away. But then you'd lose the reality TV aspect that she seems insistent on including.
Another issue is that Katniss never really has to make any hard moral choices. The tributes she kills are clearly portrayed a psychopathic bad guys. She's never forced into the decision to kill someone who's just as terrified as she is or be killed herself. It's all just too neat and neutered for something that's supposedly such a vicious blood sport.
And what's with films these days thinking they have to hold our hands? We get the opening title cards that explain how the Hunger Games came about, then we go to the interview with Wes Bentley further explaining them, then we go to District 12 and eventually the propaganda video explaining the Games again. Why not keep us in the dark? Why not have us wondering what it is everyone is getting so worked up about? Why not have the moment Sutherland appears on-screen explaining the Games be when we realize what's about to happen to these kids? That's effective filmmaking. What they did her was just fan-service.
April 20th, 2012, 11:53 AM #15
A lot of the issues you raise were addressed in the book but you are right to complain. One of the main shortcomings of the movie IMO is that it didn't get across a lot of important things from the book!