I know what you’re thinking, no movie based off a book is as great as the book was. But it was still easy to get swept away in the pre-premiere hype that was everything about “The Hunger Games.” And from what I’ve been hearing, those who didn’t read the book seemed to love the movie a little more than those of us who loyally read along.
And while there’s nothing really wrong with that — the movie was already more than two hours, things had to be cut — I felt like it deleted some of the key aspects to the first of the trilogy. It’ll be tough to get some of the major plot points that carry throughout all three after the first movie.
I’m sure you know the gist by now. After the uprising years ago, The Capitol requires each of the 12 districts to sacrifice a young boy and girl each year to The Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor as you fight to the death. Don’t get me started on how this shouldn’t be a young adult book, or PG13, but I’ll pick my battles. I am a fan after all. Continue on only if you’ve read the book, seen the movie, or don’t care about spoilers as I tackle some of the major things I think shouldn’t have been left out.
What it’s really about…
Let’s not miss the point here — this book is about the government oppressing the districts to keep them from uprising again. They are willing to kill 23 children a year to keep people in line. And while those in the capitol wine and dine and wear RIDICULOUS clothing, everyone else is starving. Don’t get me wrong, we get some of that, you can’t miss it. And we get parts of it when gamemaker Seneca Crane agrees to let two live, and takes it back. But when President Snow threatens Crane, warns him about the danger of hope, then forces Crane to kill himself, we’re only getting a glimpse at what’s really going on here. Even when Snow talks to Katniss, and Haymitch warns her about what she did, I don’t feel like moviegoers really understand what was happening. And without that, you’re missing a very, very important theme that will carry itself throughout the next two books.
Who Katniss really loves
In an attempt at full disclosure, I’m Team Gale. Come on, he took care of her family while she was gone. He always loved her. And seriously, way hotter than Peeta in the movie. I think moviegoers could understand that Katniss loved Gale, but the whole plot of the book is that she was faking her love of Peeta. And that Peeta still stood by her despite his doubts. To have them end, holding hands and smiling with Gale smiling back. In the end of the book, she pretty much admits that she was faking it, while also dealing with dread of not being with Peeta. It’s a complex relationship that gets even more complex as we read on, and it was completely overlooked in my opinion.
Some side notes:
–The Mockingjay was pretty much left out in the movie. Yes, she had it on. Yes, she gave it to Prim, etc. But she actually got it from the mayor’s daughter. And it becomes the symbol of the revolt against the capitol.
–Seriously, Woody Harrleson SHOULD have been way drunker as Haymitch. We missed out on so many scenes of that. He didn’t get his act together in the beginning.
–Effie was a great character, and while Elizabeth Banks did an great job in the film, her story was for the most part ignored. I’m not sure we even understood who she was.
–What happened to Cinna’s team? They were great in the book, and never were mentioned in the film.
–Weren’t those dogs at the end made up of pieces of the dead tributes? Or did I just read that somewhere?
I know that there was a lot to pack in. And to be honest, I really did enjoy the movie as well. But Suzanne Collins did a great job of writing such a complex story. It wasn’t a moral black and white. Snow was not simply the villain. Katniss wasn’t the only hero. And I felt like the movie just glossed over that, oversimplifying the issue. I’m not saying I could have done a better job. But I feel like if I were Collins, or I was a die-hard fan, I’d be annoyed that the complexity of the moral world she created was — like Katniss herself — dressed up with nice leather jackets and bright colors. Throw in some blurry camera angles and pretty people, and miss the overall point. But you’re selling tickets to movies. And people don’t want to spend two hours feeling morally ambiguous. They want fast-paced adventures, with heroes, with villains. With a love story and a happy ending.
Like I said, movies will never be as good as the books. But, after all that complaining, I will still see the next two in the Hunger Games trilogy.