It's always exciting when a beloved book comes to the big screen. A week ago the first installment of The Hunger Games arrived in theaters and after hearing great things from friends, I decided it was worth the $7 and saw it yesterday night. It didn't perfectly match what I imagined after reading the books, but that's almost impossible to do. And I'm pleased to say, I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next two movies (if you were wondering, Catching Fire will come to theatres in November 2013).
Of course I prefer the book though. It's incredibly rare that I'll prefer a movie to its book version (unless I really disliked the book, like Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook). But at the same time, there were elements of the movie that really improved the story.
If you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want anything spoiled, don't read any further! I'm going to detail things I liked and didn't like about the movie. Here we go!
- Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Katniss. She really brought the character to life. I don't think I'd have changed a thing about her performance.
- Katniss deserved her own mention, but really all the characters were portrayed very well. Usually I have a lot of nit-picky criticisms for book characters in movies (like with Harry Potter, which I love regardless), but they did a wonderful job with the casting. Prim, Mrs. Everdeen, Gale, Haymitch, Effie Trinket, Rue, Foxface. Almost everyone was very close to what I pictured (my two small complaints are listed below).
- The one way the movie surpasses the book: multiple POVs. This probably wouldn't even have worked in the book, but it was great in the movie. We saw the games not only through Katniss's eyes, but through the eyes of the Game Makers as well. I loved seeing them create the arena and plant obstacles as they pleased. It brought a whole new dimension to the story.
- Peeta wasn't perfect for me in appearance, but Josh Hutcherson's acting had me mostly convinced of him by the end. Cinna too wasn't quite what I imagined (I didn't think he'd be quite so serious, I guess? And his appearance was more plain than I pictured), but it didn't really bother me.
- We lose Katniss's narration. Without it, we aren't able to really know what she's feeling. I understand why the movie doesn't include it (I would have made the same choice if I were the director), but this is one way the book surpasses the movie.
- No Avox. These punished citizens who are kept as slaves and have had their tongues cut out are not introduced in the movie unless you count a casual mention that the Capitol might cut out your tongue if you rebel. I have a strong feeling they'll make an appearance in the next movie though.
- The silly dog monsters at the end. They looked like funny dogs or warthogs, not vicious wolves like I pictured in the book (though I did dislike how they were supposed to be mutant tributes in the books).
- Glimmer is very annoying in the movie. I didn't imagine her so immature (laughing like a schoolgirl after a killing) when I read. Kato too.
- The shaky camerawork. Sometimes it helped convey the tone and I agreed with it, but other times it was annoying and distracted me from the action. Especially during fights when I wanted to see what was happening but couldn't.
All in all though, I really enjoyed it! I'm excited to see the next movie and can't wait to see the casting choices for Finnick, Johanna, and Beetee.