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?