Out to the Movies: The Hunger Games

Warning: This post contains spoilers about The Hunger Games books and movies. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

I love a movie that, the minute the credits start rolling, you want to watch again. You want to disappear back into that world. For me, that’s how The Hunger Games was.

Not that I should have been surprised. The books were the same way.

If you haven’t heard of The Hunger Games, I will assume you’ve been living under a rock. The first installment of Suzanne Collins’s trilogy hit the big screen yesterday and, if the crowd in my theater was any indication, it’s going to be a pretty successful box office weekend.

There are few things I love more than a strong female character who can overcome all odds with her own brain and abilities. Suzanne Collins has created that character in Katniss Everdeen and Jennifer Lawrence does a great job portraying her in The Hunger Games on screen.

The books and movies are about a time in the future of North America where disasters and civil war have resulted in the country of Panem, made up of The Capital and 12 districts. Each year, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each district in a drawing to represent the district in The Hunger Games – a annual event where the 24 representatives fight each other to the death until one is left.

Yes, it is that depressing.

However, despite a depressing plot line, the story is quick-paced and full of adventure. I’ve read the first book twice now – both times in under 24 hours – and will start re-reading the second one as soon as I finish this post. It’s that good.

But we’re here to talk about the movie.

As with most books that are turned into films, there are pieces left out and pieces added. As far as things left out, they were pretty minor and were mostly done to move the story along (i.e. Katniss gets her mockingjay pin at The Hob, instead of from Madge; there’s nothing about the Avox’s, except a minor comment about having your tongue cut out; you don’t learn about the types of bread from each district, so the gift from District 11 is left out; the sleeping medicine and blood poison injection gifts are changed slightly; etc.). Nothing changes the plot line and, if you hadn’t read the book, you’d never know any better. Like the Harry Potter films (which I often compare The Hunger Games to, at least from a style standpoint), you have to leave the plot points out that don’t contribute to the main storyline. There’s just not enough time, especially if you can’t put in the supporting material that help them make sense.

President Snow and Seneca Crane play a much larger role in the first movie than they did in the first book. However, the added storyline should help viewers who didn't read the book understand the second and third movies better.

What I found really interesting, though, was what was added in. The most important addition was a secondary storyline involving President Snow and Seneca Crane, the head gamekeeper. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve read the book (see spoiler alert above!), and you know that neither of those characters are featured much in the first book. President Snow does an introduction to the Games, but beyond that he’s much more prominent in the second and third books and the most important part of Seneca Crane is knowing that he gets killed for allowing two people to win The Hunger Games. However, in the movie, those small attributes are highlighted a lot more, so as to give the viewer who hasn’t read the books a lot more understanding of how we get to the rebellion of the second and third installments. While it’s different from the books, I think the additions were done very well and helps cover the parts of the book that are mostly Katniss’s own thoughts (which, if you look back in the book, is a majority of it).

Beyond additions and deletions, I loved being able to see the sets on the page come to life on the screen. Although minor, I always had a hard time picturing what the Cornucopia looked like, so seeing the director’s interpretation of it helped me out a lot in creating it in my imagination. Whenever I read a book, that’s my favorite part to find out – is how I imagine something the same way others do?

I can’t wait for the next movie to come out, or at least for this one to come out on DVD, so I can watch again. What about you, though? Have you read the books? Seen the movie? What did you think?

Overall: Admire the movie for what it is, separate of the book, and you won’t be disappointed. Full of action and sticks to the main messages of the book – The Hunger Games is a trip to the theater well-spent.

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