Sean Quinn | Editor-in-Chief
Read the book. Before I talk about the movie I want to explain that The Hunger Games is a beautifully crafted story that, though targeted for a younger audience, pulls in readers of all ages. The movie, however, does not have the same charm, character development, relationships, or sense of excitement and suspense that the novel had. What I felt the book had, I felt the movie lacked, and while I did enjoy myself in the theater, I felt that I would not have enjoyed myself if I had paid for the movie without reading the book.
I don’t believe that the movie itself can stand alone. The story is relatively the same with a few changes for continuity, a normal adjustment for a movie adaptation, but I felt that it only skimmed the service. The direction left something to be desired, with the cinematography acting as a complete annoyance. I am not sure why the director decided that a shaky hand cam was the way to represent this movie. It felt reminiscent of a much better funded Blair Witch Project, and I don’t feel that it benefitted the movie or the story at all. In fact, I felt that it took away from the experience, giving the watcher no time to really comprehend the world of the Hunger Games, as well as giving short burst shots with out of focus action. It was as if the audience was made nearsighted by this movie.
I felt that it was a disservice to the movie since so many of the fans of the series came to see the world that they became so engrossed in. While so many of the audience know the outcome of the plot line, the movie is to serve as a visualization of the text, giving physical life to the fictional characters in our minds. I was not able to obtain this by the fast paced feel; I felt that everything was skimmed over so quickly that I was not able to really take in what was happening. This world that the book gave us is represented in the movie, no doubt, but I felt that there was no time for us to take it in and really see the world come to life like a movie should do. I also feel that so much of the work that the movie tried to accomplish with the character development, costumes, prop and set design was lost by the fast pace.
On a positive note, the actors were well cast and the character work was spot on. Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, was represented excellently as the unexpected heroine thrown into this madness, specifically as a sacrifice to save her adolescent sister. Few, but appreciated, were the moments when we saw Katniss get out of her own head and really convey the sense of tragic urgency that was so wonderfully represented in the book. I felt that the only moments when I saw true storytelling was through the choices that Lawrence made as Katniss. Her dough boy counterpart Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson, was very good, but their love story was underplayed.
A main focus of the book is how to play the game; how becoming a victor is not just being able to kill, but to be a reality TV star that everyone roots for. It is important to be strong but it is equally important to have a gimmick and be a personality. This is where the love story comes into play, and while there is a difference between the real love that Peeta feels and the confused feelings that Katniss is trying to comprehend, while saving herself and Peeta’s wounded self in the arena, we are not able to understand this through the movie. Some beautiful parts of the story were lost, and should not have been overlooked.
Like I said before, read the book, as without the actual story-line the movie is nothing but a overview. It is fast paced in a way that makes it hard to focus and really understand the narrative.
The world of the Hunger Games is not well represented through the movie, but I don’t think you should miss out if you have read the book. So my advice? At the risk of repeating myself: read the book, and then watch the movie. Not because I am an uppity, pretentious person who says that for every film adaptation, but because in this case the book is not well represented, and the movie itself does not have the same effect.