Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games - Minimal Spoilers

I've had several people ask me about the Hunger Games book trilogy lately, along with the frequently stated, "They sound kinda disturbing." Since I saw the movie yesterday I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain why I like the books so much, and of course, tell you what I thought of the movie!

First of all, yes, the concept behind the Hunger Games Trilogy is disturbing. For those of you who still know nothing beyond the title, the Hunger Games takes place in an undefined future in which the land has been divided up into districts after a great war. Each district is responsible for one aspect of industry, and they are all ruled from the Capitol. Seventy-four years ago District 13 revolted and was destroyed, and now in order to keep the rest of the districts cowed the Capitol hosts an annual Hunger Games. Each district is required to provide one boy and one girl, ages 12-18, to participate in a contest to the death, with the winner being rewarded with unbelievable riches, and their district receiving many important benefits as well. The books follow one girl, Katniss Everdeen, who competes in the Hunger Games after volunteering to take her little sister's place.

These Hunger Games are incredibly barbaric, and made even more so by the fact that the citizens of the capital see them as the highlight of the year, placing bets and throwing parties and generally having a great time while children die. Honestly? When I first heard about the books and saw them showing up all over the internet I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like them, but I picked the first book up because I was seeing them all over the place and I didn't want to join the internet discussion without having an informed opinion.

I was blown away by the books. They are very well written and not at all what I was picturing. Yes, there is violence and parts that are horrible, but the focus of the books isn't on the violence, it is on the girl, Katniss Everdeen, and actually? Considering the topic, they are no where near as violent as they could be.

I loved the books because they are about people. People that you get to know and love. The author uses the Hunger Games, which are horrific, to highlight how valuable human life really is, which is something missing from a lot of the media today's teens are exposed to. That's not the only good message in these books either. They highlight how ridiculous the obsession with fashion can become, talk about staying true to who you are when others try to change you, and the importance of friendships and family.

Having said how much I like the books, I have to admit I have really mixed feelings about the movie. I did enjoy it, don't get me wrong! I think they got a lot of things right. There were a few things they left out, but most of it wasn't that big of a deal, and I think they did a good job at maintaining the integrity of the story. They managed to maintain the important messages in the book, they did a great job with the costumes and bringing to life the images in the book, and the actors did a great job.

Still, I think they could have done a better job with it, the most important thing being that it was a better movie for the fans than it was for people who've never read the books. There were things that I understood, knowing from the books what was going on, that left my husband completely confused.

I also really didn't like the camera work. They used a shaky "realistic" style of camera work in many places that was designed to make you feel like you were looking at the scene in first person. I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan, but my husband tells me it was a lot like that style. I would have been fine with it if they only used that technique a little bit, but I think they over did it. It also left me with a horrible migraine, which is just no fun.

Bottom line? It's was better done than Twilight but not as good as the later Harry Potter movies. If you love the books (and don't get migraines easily) by all means, go see it! You will probably really enjoy it. If you haven't read the books, well you might not like it as much, but it's still not a bad movie.


  1. To be honest, I had never heard of the book series until a movie was announced and started to be cast (to be fair, though, it was the same for Twilight and Harry Potter and even The Princess Diaries and Nicholas Sparks books. I really suck at discovering books before they're turned into movies). I knew absolutely NOTHING about The Hunger Games until AubrieAnne did a book review on her blog. From the sound of things, it's somewhat my kind of thing. Sure, I hate books that have violence, but the whole "what society is like after the fall of our civilization" concept is intriguing to me. It's the reason I bought the "Uglies" books by Scott Westerfield. I do plan on reading the books in the future and my mom and I would like to see the movie in a couple weeks (after the craziness has died down). Thanks for the movie review.

  2. Ankjsdfkbdfkjd!!!!!

    I just wrote a whole thing and then accidently X-ed out of the website!! So, I will try and recreate what I was saying, but in far less words! I will say my comment was great, though!

    So, about the book, I couldnt have agreed with you more. The gruesomness is the number one excuse I hear from people who have not read the book. But, like you mentioned, that is not the focus! It's more about the bravery of these children, especially Katniss, to have the courage to face this, not lose themselves in the captitol and the injustice, get home to their families, and start fighting back for the first time in 74 years! What is happening to them is not their fault, it is the fault of others, elders, that fear the power even a child can have in raising hope.
    Their character is what defines these books and makes them worth reading. They give you the hope and courage you need to continue reading.

    As for the movie, I'm mostly on the side of the fence of really enjoying it. I miss very small things that only a reader would be endeared to, like Katniss yelling at Peeta for being too noises while they are hunting during the games, or Haymitch being much slobbier at the beginning and falling off the stage at the reaping. But, the movie is already almost 2 1/2 hours long and I can't think of anything I would have wanted them to remove to find more room for other stuff.

    Also, I went with a friend that had not read the books first and she said that she got it, she wasn't too confused, but she could not depend on the usual devices, such as dialog or narration to tell her what was happening, instead she had to look to the actors movements, glances, comments, etc to fill her in.

    On that note, I thought the young cast of this movie was wildly talented!!! Especially Jennifer Lawrence! Way to really bring a character to life. If some other young actors or actresses had even half the talent of Lawrence or her costars, we all might enjoy some of these books to movies concepts a lot more. :)