I had finished The Hunger Games novel about a couple of weeks ago so the story and characters were fresh in my mind. I read it mostly to see what all the fuse was about and to read it before the movie came out. When I was done I had some huge questions about how they could ever make a film adaptation of it. I just didn’t think a lot of the elements of the book would translate well to film but I was excited non-the less. The book was a fun read and I genuinely cared about the story and the characters that play it out. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing something you have read, be turned into something you see and for the most part The Hunger Games film didn’t disappoint.
Unless you have been in a cave or if you still confuse The Hunger Games and Twilight, then you most definitely know the plot. The problem is that if you hear the plot you probably envision a film that is a lot more violent than it actually is. Just like the novel the film never leaves it’s pre-teen tone. Even the more violent parts feel sort of childish but that is what the book is and I’m sort of glad that is what the film is. That is the first thing that the film gets right and gets wrong. It is a faithful adaptation of the source material and only messes with certain elements on rare accounts. Yes there are characters omitted and subplots adverted but what did make the cut are the book’s most important parts. I do feel like the script should of never went behind the camera but it does add an extra element to the story. Even though it is a great thing that the film is so faithful, the movie still felt rushed. Events and characters feel pushed forward to try and fit in some of the filmmaker’s own additions. The script’s faithfulness creates a movie that is a great companion piece to the novel but never allows it to become a work of its own.
The real winner of the film has to be Jennifer Lawrence who plays the role of Katniss as well as Suzanne Collins wrote the character. She is the backbone of the movie and without her the movie would most likely be devoured by it’s own appetite. When she is not running for her life, Lawrence shines when the movie lets her show the more emotional sides of Katniss. As far as casting goes, this was a home run. The readers of the novel don’t have to compromise with her performance because of how well she embodies Katniss. The rest of the cast is well picked and it is unfortunate that the film’s running time never gives them the opportunity to flesh our their respective characters. The only other cast member that gives their character their due is Josh Hutcherson. Hutcherson is great as Peeta and works well with Lawrence. The chemistry is there and they convey the naïve romance as well as they probably could.
The biggest flaw of the movie is that it never fully invests in its violent nature. I really don’t blame the film for this because this was my biggest qualm with the novel. The idea of modern day gladiator games is brutal and when you throw children in there it is just downright disgusting. The problem is that the book only touched the surface of its own ugly idea and the film dares not to tests the source material by making a more violent movie. I heard some people complain that the film should have been rated R and I understand why but they don’t understand what they are asking for. The tone of the movie matches that of the book well and with an R rating, the film wouldn’t have been able to keep that tone. The movie is violent and there are some scenes that walk that line between teen and adult but for the most part the film is pretty tame compared to the promise of it’s plot. It is violent and is occasionally horrible but I’d more scared of those crazy kids in Lord of the Flies than I would of the children of Panem.
When a big movie adaption like this comes out it always brings out one of the most ignorant statements people can make about an adaptation, the book is better than the movie. Is it so hard to realize that books and films are two different mediums? I feel like this realization doesn’t come from rational thought but is more common sense. When you have to adapt a book to film you have to condense and make a visual representation of something that was read in countless point of views. Does The Hunger Games have its flaws, yes and is it entirely faithful to the source material, no but how can it be? To make a good adaptation you have to transform the source material to something that it was never meant to be. So all you Hunger Games fans should feel happy to get a good movie out of a book you all loved. The Hunger Games is a flawed book and it is a flawed movie but I think the two compliment each other and sort of enhance each other. The Hunger Games movie is simply just fun entertainment and a childish look at extreme circumstances, just like how the book intended it to be.