Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Thoughts on The Hunger Games Film

I went to go see The Hunger Games movie on Saturday, and I thought I would share a few comments about it here. For anybody who hasn’t seen it, I’m sorry if this includes any spoilers!
Overall, I think the film was a good representation of the book. I didn’t like some of the changes they made, and whilst readers of The Hunger Games will find various inaccuracies – there were too many to count! – spotting everything that is wrong with the film shouldn’t debase it. As a film adaptation, readers are always going to be horrified by the things which are cut and the things which are added in; that’s the nature of film adaptations, as much as it might not be nice.
Nevertheless, there were positive things about the movie. I really loved their inclusion of Seneca Crane and the Gamemakers. I think it gave the film another edge, and considering we don’t hear about Seneca Crane until Catching Fire, it was a really good addition. It’s another reminder to the audience about the concept of the Games, and how warped a reality show it really is; it highlights who we are supposed to be rooting for. When Seneca Crane was first introduced into the film, I was wary – by the end of the film I absolutely loved the separate arc they created for him. It was brilliant, and I think it was one of the only additions which drew away from the text of the book that made the film better rather than worse.
Saying that, I did happen to like the featured uprising in District 11. Prior to seeing the film, a friend had already told me about this addition, and like Seneca Crane I was wary. But I think it was done well, and it gave the film makers another chance at world building. It really set up for Catching Fire, and I liked getting the outsider perspective again, even if the action in the arena was quite enthralling in itself.
A friend I went to go see the film with – there was a group of us – who hadn’t read the books remarked afterwards about the disorientating camera angles and shots. Kristin Cashore even said she got motion sickness from the film, which I can completely understand considering the pace of the shots. But I told my friend that they had to film The Hunger Games this way. The fact is, the novels are aimed at teens. It might be incredibly graphic on paper, but when put into film it’s something completely different. If they had filmed it with all its gore and violence intact, The Hunger Games would have easily failed to secure the PG-13 rating and the British 12A rating it needed, along with the younger ratings from other countries. The film would have massively lost out on a large percentage of its target audience, akin to the recent Bully controversy. So whilst it might have seemed disorientating, the filming was ultimately necessary. I didn’t think it drew away from the film too much, but then again, I didn’t get motion sickness.
I feel like the casting wasn’t quite right for me. I have to admit that Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss surprised me – she did much better in her role, considering the high expectations, than I thought she would and I have to commend her for that. I thought the person they cast as Gale was far too pretty for what his character is meant to be. Gale is attractive, yes, but supposedly in a rugged sort of way, not an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement sort of way. Cato was also ridiculously handsome, but that didn’t bother me too much. Initially I hated the person cast as Peeta. He didn’t fit into my imagining of Peeta at all, although I did start to slightly warm to him as they got more into the plot of the arena. I didn’t like the casting of Haymitch either – one of my friends even said he looked Australian! Also, Effie was far too old in my eyes; I picture her as quite young, in her twenties, and I know my friend agreed. However, I loved the casting of Caesar Flickerman; they got him perfectly. They also captured the essence of Cinna incredibly well. But these are only my personal reflections on casting.
There were many moments for me that were laughable when they weren’t supposed to be laughable, but I think I was in the minority about this. I won’t detail all the moments – I have to say there are too many for me to actually detail – but again, this was only my opinion.
So to summarise, it was a good film. I had resolved up until last week that I wasn’t going to go see it. This was a book I first read in 2008; I remember counting down the days until its release. Of course I was going to be worried about it being immortalised in film. But I decided that actually, I would go, and I have to say I’m glad. I’ll definitely go see Catching Fire when it comes out. For all its mistakes, and there were plenty, I still think it was a good reflection on the books. Not amazing. But good. And I can’t ask for more than that, can I?
Did you go see the film? What were your thoughts?

6 comments:

  1. I am not an avid reader, Fiona, so I didn't read the books and had no expectations how themovie should be and what actors will fit best the characters in the book. While I found the storyline to be simple and sometimes weak (no good explanation why they do the hunger games every year), I found the four main actors credible. For me, Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss. She was the movie and carried it well. The actors for Gale, Peeta and Haymitch fit well with the storyline. The actress for Rue was a good fit also. After the movie I read parts of the first book to learn mainly about the writing style of Suzanne Collins. But Kantiss was the movie. I was so impressed with her that after the movie I started writing my second novel about a young woman, like Katniss. Not your ordinary dystopian novel, because it is set right now in our world (not some imaginary world in the futur). So, it's nice to read that you are a huge fan of dystopian literature. I don't read much, but hopefully I understand the basic elements dystopian novels. If you don't have a topic for your next blog, feel free to write what is dystopian literature and its variations. Best wishes.

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    1. It's great to get an outside perspective from you, Giora! I can understand why at times it would be weak; the film makers have catered a LOT to those who have read the books, which in a way is unfair, because there's still a wide variety of people who haven't yet or aren't interested in reading the whole series. I agree that the casting did support the storyline, my problems were merely nitpicky in how I imagined the characters from reading the books.

      Yes, I would definitely say The Hunger Games has a great mixture of plot-driven (in the concept) and character-driven (in Katniss) appeal. That's great that The Hunger Games inspired you! It reminds me of when I first read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, all I wanted to do after for months was write about that type of world because I was so inspired by his novel. That's a wonderful suggestion, I wrote about my love of dystopian literature in this post - http://www.between-the-grey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/why-i-love-dystopia.html - but I would love to expand on it! Thanks for your comments, Giora.

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    2. Hi again Fiona. I read your dystopian literature post and now we have two different subjects: (1) A dystopian world and the (2) Game where the winner takes all. Dystopian world is usually a furistic totalitarian where the subjects criticise their world and we as audience can think how it applies to our world. The Game is a tool for the rulers of the dystopian world to control the subjects. But many dystopian novels like 1984 don't have a Game. Some articles in the US suggest that Capitalism is like the Hunger Games, where we all fight to succeed and the few winners take most of the benefits. Can we suggest that in our world the upper class controls the rest of the population, so we have a semi-dystopian world? Or we need a dictatorship to call it a contemporary dystopian? I guess you are writing a dystopian novel now. Is it a variation of 1984? Your thoughts are welcome.

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    3. Hello! I would agree with you that Capitalism has a lot of similarities to a game - there are winners and losers alike, and while it may seem brutal, unfortunately that is the way of the world. I don't think that dystopia necessarily has to be dictated by the premise of a game, nor by government corruption (although it usually takes this form). I would argue that a dystopian world is the opposite a utopia, so the depiction of a society which is in some way broken, corrupt or a kind of anti-paradise. Whilst it is certainly easy to say the government is always the architect of this in dystopian fiction, considering the real world implications of government control, I think that dystopia can certainly take other forms.

      But in regard to your question about whether we ourselves live in a dystopia, I think that's a very interesting question. Certainly when looking from an elitist perspective, we are controlled in many ways by wealth - our worth is somewhat determined by it in many ways. But I don't think we as yet are in the midst of a dystopian society. Looking from a pluralist perspective, I would argue that we as a society still have control over the wealthy. Look at the revolutions in the Middle East - it may have taken decades to overthrow their dictatorships, but it just proves that the people can still hold the wealthy and powerful to account. When that accountability is lost, that is when we could start to question the dystopian nature of our society.

      I've written a few works based on the premise of dystopia. The collection of short stories I'm working on currently is very dystopian, right down to the element of government control. I don't think it draws too many parallels with 1984, but the question of the government's power over society is definitely there.

      Your comments are so insightful, Giora! They really make me think, so I thank you for that!

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  2. I haven't seen the film or read the book yet but I do want to, I think it will be great :) At this point, I've gotten over the omissions and additions of film adaption; after studying it for a year and continuing to do so, I'm already expecting everything filmmakers can throw at readers.

    Now... just something I heard, I don't have any reference to give you... but my sister has informed me that Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift will be in the next movie. As someone who is planning to watch the second movie, how does that make you feel?

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    1. I definitely recommend both of them! I'm sure that would prepare you; I only wish I too had been that prepared! Nevertheless, it was still a decent film considering all the changes they did happen to make.

      I haven't heard about that, but to be honest, it wouldn't surprise me if it were true. I think it isn't the best idea to include so many celebrities in a film, because then fans of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber will end up seeing the film simply for them. Whilst that will create a great amount of additional revenue for Catching Fire, I don't think it would be good for fans of the film franchise or books to have to listen to other fans squealing about their favourite celebrities when they're trying to pay attention to the film. Perhaps I'm overreacting, and maybe it would make more people interested in the novels, I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

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