First Impression of The Hunger Games Movie

Posted March 23, 2012 by Lisa Mandina in / 16 Comments

Okay, as this is a book blog, and The Hunger Games movie is based on the book, I feel I can go ahead and give my opinion on the movie.  I’m not going to make a big deal about how the book is always better than the movie, because that just goes without saying.  First, let me say the movie was a really good movie, I’m not saying that it wasn’t.  This post is just to discuss my experience and feelings about how it was done.  So I want to start with the good things.  The fact that all the actors cast really fit the characters in the books is a huge accomplishment to me.  So often the person just isn’t who I imagined when I read, or doesn’t quite conform to that when I see the movie.  Not so in this case.  They stuck right to the story, anything added did not ruin the story, in fact a lot of the stuff added really enhanced the movie experience.  For instance, the book is told from Katniss’s point of view, so there is so much we don’t get to see because of that.  I liked how the movie showed us the Gamemakers’ working on the arena, setting up President Snow’s role for later as well.  I like that they kept in things that you might have thought would be too hard to do, like the Tracker Jackers, and the muttations.  Even though neither were quite as horrible as in the book.  I loved the interview with Cesar Flickerman and Peeta.  I think someone who has not read the books will totally enjoy the action and imagery.  Now I was really tired, I’d worked all day, and then only took about a half hour nap before the movie.  Plus, I went and saw another movie about 3 hours before it started.  And, they kept the theater so dark when we were sitting in there, I was having some trouble staying awake.  So I’m guessing there are some details I need to watch the movie when I’m more alert to catch.
Okay, the bad things.  I want to preface this with this statement.  I am going to compare this to some other movies from books, but I’m not comparing the actual movie content or quality, just my experience with them in comparison to the books and being familiar with the books.  Okay, I feel that they did a Twilight movie mistake in not really putting any of the relationship building between Peeta and Katniss in the movie.  If you haven’t read the book, you don’t really understand the whole “boy with the bread” thing because you don’t know how bad off Katniss was, you don’t really see what happened to Peeta because of that.  Time with Peeta and Katniss in the cave was left out, so we don’t get to see how Katniss must play this relationship, or how much she is playing.  I still HATE that they left out Madge, the mayor’s daughter, the REAL way Katniss gets the Mockingjay pin.  We don’t know the whole story of what happened to make Katniss even go out and start hunting.  And wow, Rue, we don’t get all the time she and Katniss spent together and so when she died, I didn’t even tear up in the movie, and I was soooo sure I would! I think this experience also compares for me to when I went to see The Lightning Thief movie.  Let me assure you that this movie, The Hunger Games, was a really good movie, while The Lightning Thief was horrible.  But my comparison here is that I have taught both of these books in my class, and so I have dissected so much about the stories, the symbols, the characters, and I know them in so much detail.  So that makes going to see the movie and having so many things left out hard to take.  Talking about symbolism, the lessons I got to use with The Hunger Games has a huge activity about all the food in the book, and what it could symbolize and how it fits in with the story.  And yet in the movie, none of that.  We don’t get to hear about what Katniss says she likes most in the Capital, the lamb stew, that gets sent to her and Peeta for a feast in the arena.  We don’t get to hear Peeta describe all the different breads from the districts, tying in so well to his boy with the bread image.  Haymitch doesn’t do his dive off the stage at the beginning, such a big part of the book.  And Haymitch is just not the drunk he is supposed to be.  One last complaint, I’m glad the muttations were there, but I tried looking so close to see that they had the characteristics they were supposed to, and they didn’t.  Oh yeah, and I think they were trying to keep it to a PG-13 rating, and so the violence was almost completely skipped over, barely in the background. 
In conclusion, I will go see it again.  I do think they did a good job with the movie for what they did, and I would definitely show it when it is on video for my students to compare a book to a movie and see what they think.  I do recommend it, go see it, I did like it! 

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16 responses to “First Impression of The Hunger Games Movie

  1. I am in the minority for not being a fan but totally get the hype of these books. I only read Hunger Games didn't continue on.

    I think because you have taught this in class you would also have a different opinion than others, would be interesting to read others opinions. I do want to see this one also.

    For me I wished the book had more violence so I knew the movie wouldn't be R rated so not surprised to hear you say that.

    Some of the scenes mentioned from the book I do remember so they may be a miss from the movie.

    Good feedback, thanks for sharing.

  2. I completely agree with everything you said. Like I said in my own review, the lack of violence really bothered me, as well as the relationship slip-ups. I also still do not understand WHY Madge was cut from the movie. She is such an important character!

  3. I think all of your complaints are well-founded. Each of the negatives you bring up in your reflection here I agree with. I felt the sting of them all. I think I walked into the movie with ridiculously low expectations, though, so I was surprised by how much they got right. After having the same burning disappointment with "The Lightning Thief" (what an absolute HEARTBREAK that movie was!), "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and then even the rush job of "Twilight" that was somehow adored by fans all over, I braced myself for the worst. When I heard Madge was out of the story and that the film had received a PG-13 rating I threw my hands up in defeat – I was definitely going to see the movie, but I had no expectation of liking it.

    There is one unique quality that this film has that I haven't experienced in a book to movie adaptation in a long time (if at all). While I will, as you, always preach that the book is a far deeper and richer experience, and is, therefore, better than the movie, in "The Hunger Games" I feel that the movie also enhances the book. Having the story told from a third person omniscient perspective gives us sight into the Capitol and the Gamemakers that we could only speculate about while reading through Katniss' point of view. It is for this reason, I think, that when I walked away from the film the cuts didn't feel as though they were as deep as I might otherwise imagine.

    Thank you for stopping by the Rivera Runs Through It blog and sharing your link to your review.

    • I do agree that there is some enhancement of the book by the movie, and actually, after seeing the movie a 2nd time, I liked it a bit better. I also just saw they are making a movie of the 2nd book in The Lightning Thief series. Don't know if I'll attempt to watch it or not.

  4. While you guys were out watching the movie, I read the book for the first time. (finished at about 12:30 my time & I am tired!) So it is really fresh in my mind & I think that the Katniss/Rue relationship was one of my favorite things about the book. Logically, I knew what the outcome would be, but I still enjoyed their relationship & am bummed it wasn't properly shown in the movie.

    Visually in my mind I was painting a very — um, Campy (for lack of better word) picture of the Capitol. Was that how it appeared in the movie? As much as I want to run out & see the movie, odds are I will wait for the DVD. Will I be missing something if I wait?

    Great review, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Amy

    I do agree with a lot of the things that you said. I think that it's definitely hard to really put everything they should into a movie. I was quite disappointed about them not having Madge give her the pin too because in the next books that really comes into play. I also would have liked to see more of them in the cave. I felt that was really a big part of the book. Overall though, it is one of the best book to film adaptions I have seen. I think with time restrictions they did it very well.

  6. I completely agree about Madge and the Mockingjay pin. I was so upset that wasn't in there… But overall I thought the movie was great!

  7. I totally agree with what you said about them leaving those parts out. I can understand why they left out Madge, even though I hate that they did it. And I know that, since the book was written from Katniss's point of view, we were able to see all of her thoughts, and it's really hard to pull that off in a movie. Especially a movie where the main character is wandering around the woods alone trying to hide. But they should have put a little more emphasis on the whole "boy with the bread" thing. I was not a fan of that stupid close up of Katniss with her face all scrunched up like she's sick. They needed to show more than just that.

    I was dissapointed that they didn't show more of Katniss acting like she loved Peeta, or at least that they didn't put more emphasis on it. They tried to explain it in the beginning after Peeta confesses he has a crush on Katniss in the interview, and then again when Haymitch sends the soup to Katniss and Peeta in the Arena. His note, "You call that a kiss?", is supposed to get across that she's playing up to the crowd, but I didn't feel it was enough to really show the extent of it.

    One of my biggest complaints though was how the movie ended. I was so ready for Peeta to get mad at Katniss for acting like she liked him. I was ready to cry about it. What did I get? Nothing. Just credits. That disappointed me possibly more than anything else, but I still enjoyed the movie.

    I do feel that if you haven't read the books, the movie is definitely lacking the emotional connection between the characters though.

    Pretty In Fiction

  8. I agree and I dont at the same time. I missed all those things you discussed, but at the same time, it made sense why they were left out. As it was, the movie was 2 hrs and 22 minutes. There just wasn't enough time for so much backstory, explanations of why haymitch was such a drunk or explanations of bread, or watching Katniss and Peeta in the cave for 3 days. The audience who didnt read the book would have been bored out of their minds. I absolutely loved the movie. I think Clove's part was a bit of bad acting, I just didn't like it, and there were like 2 other parts that I didnt like the acting for but its okay. I saw the movie 3 times in the last 2 days (dont judge me) and I love every minute of it.

    • I have to admit the 2nd time I saw it I liked it much better. But I do think we didn't quite get the feeling of being alone in the arena that Katniss feels because it was like the Hunger Games lasted so short compared to how much of the movie was spent on the point up to the start.

  9. I agree with you. A lot of the little things I loved just weren't there. My husband didn't read the books but went with me to the movie. I had to explain all the extra things to him, especially about the mutants, so he could get the whole picture. I liked it, but I still think it could have been better. My review for it will be up tomorrow 🙂

    Book Cover Justice

  10. To be honest, I didn't really miss Madge. When I first read the book, it was alluded that Gale thought she was pretty. So in the back of my mind, I thought something would become of them, romance-wise. But since that didn't pan out, I kind of have forgotten about her until Mockingjay. I have to agree, however, that the pin lost a bit of its symbolism because of the way Katniss stumbled upon it.

    Anyway, I think I'd go and drag my husband to watch this film. If he could stomach Twilight, he'd probably enjoy this a bit more.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    • Wow, I don't remember Gale thinking Madge was pretty, especially when he was so hateful to her about her nice dress and how she didn't have her name in the reaping very many times. Interesting.

  11. I love your review. I think it's the closest description to how I felt about the movie that I've read. I wanted to love the movie so much, so I think maybe that set me up to be a little disappointed? I don't know. My biggest problem was with the lack of development between Peeta & Katniss. (Some of my family who haven't read the book went to the movie & didn't get the bread scene at all.)
    Maybe I'll like it better a second time around? Then I can appreciate it for what is in there, instead of wishing they had done it more like I saw it in my head. 🙂

    • Go see it again, I definitely liked it better the second time! And I realized I may have fallen asleep and missed a few parts at the midnight showing. 🙂

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