Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hunger Games: book/movie review


I've been mentally sitting on this post for weeks and am so excited to have a "reason" to write it. I'm not going to replay the plot here. You can read about that anywhere. I want to compare and contrast the movie and the book. I loved them both.

Wait, you haven't heard of this book? You have no idea what I'm talking about? Okay, take a look at this clip I found on YouTube.

The Hunger Games is currently the #1 book, #1 album, and #1 movie. The trilogy is even apparently on the challenged books list, which has to be the mark of excellence, right? (I jest. A little.)

Do I think you should read it if you haven't yet? Well, yes, if for no other reason than to understand what on earth everyone's talking about.

For those who say it's too violent and too graphic and children shouldn't be reading it (it's classified as young adult), okay. For those who have neither read the book nor seen the film, I'd suggest a bit of research before you form an opinion about it. Do I truly care whether you read it? Nope. Unless you're going to start voicing opinions. Then I will care. The first book took me about 7 hours to read the first time. This isn't too much of a time investment for you to be informed.

Not interested? Okay. Then have a great day and come back tomorrow when I write about Italy and our plans for next month's trip. :-)

***spoilers ahead***

The casting was spot on for me. Cinna, Rue, Gale, Peeta ... everyone was just brilliant.

It's been a couple of weeks now and here are ten things that still stand out to me:
  1. We miss meeting Madge and the mayor. Katniss instead finds the mockingjay pin at The Hob. I love the relationship between Katniss and Madge in the book, but it's a reasonable piece to cut out of an already 2+ hour movie.
  2. We miss the back story about Katniss' father being killed in the mine and the subsequent depression that crippled her mother. We miss the story of how Katniss hunts for her family's survival. District 12 is dirt poor. People die of starvation every day. The movie does not touch on this, but I don't think they had time. 
  3. The reaping itself is extremely underplayed in the movie - we don't even get to see Haymitch fall off the stage. Elizabeth Banks as Effie is much more likable in the film than the book, though just about as clueless.
  4. Seneca Crane, the head Gamemaker, is much more prominent in the movie, which was a brilliant take on expressing many of Katniss' thoughts we can read in the book, but would have been terrible as narration. And how about that beard and the dramatic ending with the Nightlock berries, huh? Wow!
  5. The movie is not nearly as violent as it could have been. There could have been much more gore and Gary Ross and crew did a good job keeping the PG-13 rating. However, the first thing Hubs said when we left the theater is that it wasn't violent enough. He thought it watered things down too much and failed to show the desperation of the games. This isn't a bunch of kids who have decided to try to kill each other. This is a group of kids who have been forced by their government to participate in a televised fight to the death. 
  6. President Snow is much more terrifying in the movie, somehow. In the book, he's a snake of a man, vicious and just awful. Donald Sutherland, however, brings this guy to life as a truly heartless s.o.b.
  7. The kids in this movie are ... well, they're kids! After reading the book several times, Peeta had sort of grown into a young frat boy kind of person in my head. Katniss was a young woman trying to take care of her family. I knew better, intellectually. But seeing them portrayed by such young actors reminded me how horrific the whole thing is.
  8. The movie doesn't let us in on why Rue can go from treetop to treetop, though gives us a glimpse into that ability in the Training Center when she watches everyone from the rafters.
  9. Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? Genius. Absolutely genius. I'm not looking forward to them killing him off in Catching Fire.
  10. "The Careers" weren't bullies. Cato, who in the book strikes me as a loose cannon bully, is terrified in the movie. His tearful last taunting with Katniss isn't about some kid being a jerk. It's a terrified, devastated kid who just wanted to survive somehow. I have much more empathy for movie Cato than for book Cato.
There are so many things about this book and movie that speak to me about society and our fascinations with death, war, entertainment, power, and more. It really showed me a message much deeper than what naysayers (who haven't read the dang books and only know of the movie through previews and hearsay) have been saying about the storyline. I think it's an incredibly important story for our kids to hear, though I will not even suggest an age at which I think they should hear it. That's not my decision.

Have you read the book and seen the movie? What stood out to you as you compared/contrasted them? Which did you do first; read or watch?

I am participating in the Blogging from A-Z challenge for April 2012. Today's post is for the letter H.

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