May the odds be ever in your favor-- a review of The Hunger Games movie
As a fan of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I was pretty excited to see the movie adaptation. After watching the series of trailers released, I was pretty sure they had done a good job. I have a history of not loving movie adaptations, as I think they often lack the depth of books. While The Hunger Games movie does change some details, remove certain scenes and characters, and add in a few things, overall I thought it a very skilled adaptation of a book that hit a chord with a lot of people. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The most challenging part of filming this book, in my opinion, is that the book is told, particularly after we enter the arena, almost completely via Katniss' internal monologue. This would not translate well onscreen and the filmmakers made some interesting choices to clue in the 5 people in the world who haven't read the book what was going on. The choice to show the Gamemakers, particularly Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane, drives home that these games have very little value if they don't entertain the Capitol while simultaneously scaring the districts. To see the manipulation, instead of hearing Katniss explain it, makes the film that much more exciting. (And also helps to explain why fireballs and giant beasts jump out of nowhere. Thank goodness this film was not in 3D.)
While Rue's significance and her relationship with Katniss felt rushed in the film, her death is still incredibly moving. The showing I attended (which was mostly full of adults in their 20s and 30s) was silent at the moment of her death, and in the scenes that followed there was audible crying throughout the theater. This was one of those moments the film had to do right, and I think they did. Rue was well cast, as the actress playing her was sweet and tough, believably cunning but scared. It's a shame Rue won't be around for the next two—she was one of the highlights of the film for me.
Of course, there are things that were left out of this film, and I think one of the most glaring omissions is actually something that is incredibly hard to convey—the twisted, complicated nature of Katniss' feelings for Peeta. In the book, it is fairly clear that the she is always thinking of the cameras, sponsors, and Gamemakers while conducting herself in the arena. Once again, this is possible due to the inner monologue. Even when her feelings start to change and she gets confused, we're with her every step of the way. In the movie, however, the Katniss-Peeta relationship, and how real each of them feel it is, isn't as obvious or explored with enough depth. That being said, Josh Hutcherson does a pretty good job of being obviously, truly in love with her. One hair touch at the end will have your heart breaking for him...
Overall, The Hunger Games was an excellent adaptation of a very popular novel with a huge, devoted fanbase. No movie can ever be perfect, but this provided an entertaining, moving and visually attractive version of the book. I do recommend reading the book before you see the movie; the history of Panem and the deeper explanations in the book will enhance your understanding of the film.