Dear Hollywood: Please don’t ruin my favorite YA books (vol. 2: Hunger Games Edition) – SPOILERS

If you’ve had a conversation with me at all in the last year, you probably heard me say one of the following if the Hunger Games comes up:

(If you mention you’ve read it/are reading it): OMGGG!!! YAY!!! I’M GLAD WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT NOW! HUNGER GAMES! KATNISS!!! PRIM! RUE! BEST BOOK EVAR!!!! WE NEED TO DISCUSS IT IMMEDIATELY!!!!

(If you mention you’ve heard of it and were wondering what the fuss was about): You really should read the book before the movie comes out. WHY WOULDN’T YOU?!? IT’s SOOOOO good.

(If you posted on Facebook in the last week that Hunger Games fans are basically the same thing as Twilight fans): I’m debating unfriending you on Facebook…

To say that I’ve become a little obsessed would be an understatement. I’ve read each of the three books FOUR times, and I was Katniss for Halloween (I wanted to get it in before next year when there will probably be a lot more…)

So of course, I was pretty stoked about the movie. After watching it and talking about it with Andy (who did not read any of the books, and knew a little bit about the plot from me/the previews), I think I’m ready to give my opinion on it. Because I’m sure you all were dying to know.

[If you haven't seen the movie yet, you might want to stop reading here and come back after you've seen it. Same thing with the books. And if you saw the movie but haven't read the books, GO READ THEM. There's a lot of backstory missing!]

Overall Reaction:

When coming out of the theatre, I was content.  (Except for my actual theatre experience. I’m going to need to see it again in a few weeks when the theatre’s not filled with teenagers screaming about team Peeta and checking their phones every 30 seconds). I enjoyed seeing it onscreen for the most part, and a lot of it was exactly how I pictured it. Jennifer Lawrence was absolutely perfect as Katniss, and I officially take back everything I’ve ever said about how I think Effie Trinket should have been Kristen Chenowith, because Elizabeth Banks was flawless. I really liked some of the extra scenes that are used to tell the story during the actual games (because a voiceover from Katniss the whole time would have been pretty boring).

LOVED:

  • Jennifer Lawrence. Holy Crap. She was perfect.
  • The Capitol costumes! Specifically, everything Effie Trinket wore, and the green tunic/black pants that Katniss wore in the Capitol apartment. I want that outfit!
  • Buttercup’s brief scene at the beginning. He could have gotten more screen time.
  • Lenny Kravitz as Cinna! This was the one piece of casting news I was the most “WTF?!?!” about, and I think he was great. I just wanted to see more scenes with him.
  • The Gamemaker control room! It was really cool to see why they sent the fireballs, and how they orchestrated everything, and how Snow already hated Katniss from the beginning.
  • Haymitch during the games. I liked seeing him trying to get sponsorships, suggesting the “Star-Crossed Lovers” thing to Seneca Crane (and whhhhhhat? I would think a mentor making suggestions that would only benefit his tributes probably wouldn’t actually fly in the Capitol…),  and the little notes they added with the parachutes, since they couldn’t really communicate that Katniss understood what he was thinking without them.
  • The scene where Katniss shoots the arrow at the Gamemakers’ table during training. I was getting mad for her when they weren’t paying attention.
  • The Reaping. The video was great (and should have been the opener to the movie, rather than the stupid text and the interview), and they really communicated how much District 12 hated it.

HATED:

  • Peeta: The Boy with the MEH. Peeta is supposed to be charismatic and funny and LIKABLE. He just reminded me of a big pile of non-delicious dough. His only good scene was when he had the camoflauge during the games, and that was good because of the makeup artists, not him.
  • Gale: He was slightly better than Peeta, but since there was absolutely NO backstory given, no one who watches this and hasn’t read the books will know that he and Katniss aren’t a couple, and how/why they hunt together., and that their dads both died in the same accident. And Gale would never scare off a deer that Katniss was about to shoot.
  • The chariot costumes. What a letdown. Those were supposed to be their whole bodies on fire, and they’re supposed to look like coal. And everyone else in the parade is supposed to look totally lame by comparison.
  • The interviews/other tributes (or lack thereof). I wanted to see all of the tributes on stage together, and have them show how Katniss got wayyy more camera time in the games than the other tributes.
  • The Uprising in District 11 when Rue died. Isn’t that supposed to be in Catching Fire?

CAN’T BELIEVE THEY LEFT OUT:

  • The backstory, the fact that everyone in the districts is poor and hungry, Katniss/Gale’s history, a better explanation of why Katniss feels like she owes Peeta and can’t kill him. You know, minor details.
  • Madge! I knew that she wasn’t in the movie, but I wonder what they’re going to do for Catching Fire, because she’s more important there. They just killed their opportunity to do the backstory with Haymitch and Madge’s Aunt and Katniss’s mom.
  • At the reaping, where was Haymitch?! He’s supposed to drunkenly fall of the stage and majorly embarrass Effie/all of District 12. I still want John C. Reilly to be Haymitch. In the movie, this character turned around too fast. After the movie, Andy and I were talking about it, and he had no idea that Haymitch was a previous victor from District 12. And he didn’t once actually say “Stay Alive” as advice. He was good at calling her “Sweetheart,” though…
  • The Avoxes, and that whole backstory. When Gale and Katniss saw the hovercraft while they were hunting, I thought they were going to do that scene there, and just have the Avoxes be very…. freshly Avoxes. There wasn’t enough in the movie to show how and why the districts hate the Capitol, and how the Capitol doesn’t give a shit about the districts, and this would have communicated it.
  • The first part in the movie that made me go “WHAT!!!!!! IN THE BOOK SHE….” was when Katniss finds water 2 MINUTES into the games. She’s supposed to look for almost 2 days and be near death from dehydration. And THEN find water and get attacked by fireballs.
  • The other tributes. I know there are a lot of them,  but some of the main ones (Clove, Foxface…) barely got any screen time. And the name “Foxface” is only mentioned once. At the end. By Peeta (and we can all agree that Peeta is not clever enough to come up with that name).
  • The Games. Um, why were they only like 40 minutes out of a 2 1/2 hour movie? I feel like they totally rushed through them (especially at the end). I know they had to minimize the violence to make it PG-13 so teenagers could watch it, but they didn’t really show very much at all.
  • Thresh’s death! He was too awesome and badass to not get any screen time there. And at the Cornucopia, he wouldn’t have known that Katniss had allied with Rue. There needed to be a few lines in there where that was communicated, because it made no sense for him to spare her life otherwise.
  • Again, the other tributes. They could have at least showed how some of them died. Or actually had cannons for all of the deaths. I feel like they missed a bunch of them.
  • The Muttations at the end of the games. When I saw the Gamemakers designing them, I got really excited. They’re supposed to be scary and resemble each of the dead tributes. Didn’t happen.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie (even if this review doesn’t sound like it…). I’ll probably see it again in the theatre and buy it on DVD. For what it lacked in backstory, it made up in other ways (such as the Gamemaker scenes).

(You may have noticed that this post is called “Dear Hollywood: Please don’t ruin my favorite YA books (vol. 2).” Volume one is about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which finally has a release date! September 21!)

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3 Responses to Dear Hollywood: Please don’t ruin my favorite YA books (vol. 2: Hunger Games Edition) – SPOILERS

  1. Alison says:

    I was annoyed about Peeta too! I loved him in the books but in the movie he didn’t come off as too likeable. :(

  2. Unmana says:

    I just wrote about things the movie did differently today, and I agree with everything you say! I also missed writing about the part where Katniss finds water two minutes in, though I noticed that in the movie. Overall, they made the Games much more toned down. Which would have been fine if they’d upped the politics of it, but they didn’t.

  3. cbond says:

    Just saw this yesterday. Jennifer Lawrence is hands-down the best part of this movie. (I highly recommend you and Andy watch Winter’s Bone when you get a chance. I actually found myself thinking about that movie while watching The Hunger Games.)
    I haven’t reread any of the books, so I’d forgotten about a lot of the stuff you mention that they’ve left out. A lot of stuff my mind had just filled in because I’d read the book so I imagine it’s pretty confusing for someone who hasn’t.

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