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‘The Hunger Games’ movie: Of course, the books are better March 26, 2012

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment, News.
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Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. (Photo from Lionsgate via Collider.com)

When I first got my hands on “The Hunger Games” book, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up through the wee hours of the morning to finish the first book in Suzanne Collins‘ dystopian trilogy.

But the movie — at more than two hours — just doesn’t pack the same intensity and intricacy that made the book such a page turner.

It’s not a bad movie. But it’s not a great one, either. Fans of the books are curious to see how Hollywood interprets the story of heroine Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the annual “kids killing kids” competition that is televised throughout the 12 districts and Capitol of the country Panem.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. (Photo from Lionsgate via Collider.com)

And the film pretty much follows the book, but the small details that were left out (you can’t put everything in!) make me as a reader wonder if non-readers figured it out. The flashbacks to Peeta tossing Katniss burned bread take forever. There is no relationship between Katniss and her “image” crew in the movie.  Even Katniss’ time with Cinna — played by Lenny Kravitz — was much more subdued in the movie. (He sports nice gold eyeliner.) The eerie, creepy hovercraft that picked up the bodies was eliminated from the movie. And the whole evening tribute to the dead tributes seemed muted. In the books, that part freaked me out.

The movie spends a lot of time laying out the groundwork for the games, but once we get into the actual killing competition, the second half and ending seem rushed.

That said, when I go  back and think about how the film was edited, I’d be hard-pressed to say what I would add back in while keeping the violence level toned down — not a lot of gore in the film as opposed to the book — and the film at a reasonable length. Visually, I thought the movie was spot on, too.

If you like the books — go see the movie just to see how the characters and action were portrayed in the film. Just be prepared for a slower, less detailed version of the book. And if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the books — read the books. Always better. And that’s the case here.

Did you miss these?

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4 things we won’t see in “The Hunger Games”

“The Hunger Games” is coming to TV

Music review: “The Hunger Games” soundtrack


1. Diana McCabe - March 26, 2012

One other piece of advice — if you get dizzy easily, don’t sit in the front rows of the theater! The movie has lots of those shaky frames and actions shots!


2. Lisa - April 10, 2012

Finally! I was able to get to the theatre to see it. Overall, I was happy and enjoyed it. They couldn’t have gotten anywhere near the intensity of the book without moving up to an R rating, which is unfortunate as the film didn’t really showcase how difficult the games were for Katniss. In the film it didn’t seem so bad…in fact, nothing seemed as dire as in the book – the conditions in the districts, the intensity of the games…especially how difficult it was for Katniss mentally, etc. And, I agree that there had to be bits where people who didn’t read the book wondered what was going on.

Diana McCabe - April 10, 2012

I had a couple of friends who didn’t read the books but said they could follow the movie. But it just didn’t pack the same wallop. You’re right — you didn’t get a sense of impending doom or the seriousness. It was more than a game. All of the districts have been suffering.

I think movie was good though. Not so sure the second movie will do anything. Second book was my least fave. Some people don’t like how the series ended but I didn’t mind the last book at all.


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