Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games: Movie Vs. Book

SPOILERS ahead: so if you haven't seen the movie or watched the books, go away now. (Unless you don't mean to. But you don't really mean that, do you?)

I loved the movie and was disappointed by it at the same time. I am resisting the urge to pick up the book again, because we all know I won't stop at one, and I shouldn't spend the next few days in a book-induced haze instead of, you know, concentrating on work and all. So this is from memory, and correct me if I'm wrong, but here's what I think the movie did differently from the book (and of course, I'm disappointed at each one):
  • The origins of the Mockingjay pin. I'm a little pissed off that they did away with Madge, and the backstory in the book was so good, and anything they'll come up with in the next movie will seem like a stupid, stupendous coincidence (yes, I've already made up my mind).
  • Katniss is older (played by the same actor throughout) when her father dies as well as when Peeta tosses her the bread. This makes it not nearly as heartbreaking, and also...
  • Makes Peeta less nice. He didn't save a little girl's life as well as her family's: he just... tossed her some bread.
  • Gale is much more the smoldering jealous boyfriend than than he is the moral voice that inspires Katniss. I mean, the actor who plays Gale is really hot, but really, that's what they reduced him to? Jealous looks at the TV where his not-girlfriend is kissing another dude? Not, you know, concern that his best friend is likely to be viciously murdered?
  • Haymitch isn't as dysfunctional as he was in the book. This was mostly disappointing, though I saw why they did it: they didn't have time to waste on Haymitch's transformation as well. I also imagined Haymitch to be in much worse physical condition: balding, with a beer belly, and sitting all slouched over. This Haymitch was quite... hot. However, I also thought the actor was excellent. The way he said "sweetheart" had the exact measure of sarcasm and sleaziness that I'd imagined in the book.
  • Cinna was excellent too. He was exactly as I'd imagined him. Except for one thing: he's too physically affectionate towards Katniss. Reading the book, I'd imagined Katniss liked Cinna partly because he was so restrained and cool. They were similar in that way, and therefore understood each other. All the hugging and forehead-rubbing was too much for me and veered close to icky territory. (Especially as Katniss is sixteen in the story and Jennifer Lawrence is Lenny Kravitz's daughter's friend in real life.)
  • Haymitch doesn't hold off sending Katniss stuff until she's physically affectionate towards Peeta. I liked that they showed Haymitch actually schmoozing with sponsors. But the first time Katniss needs medicine, she gets it, and she seems to kiss Peeta of her own volition, not the pressure of romance-and-violence-hungry TV audiences. That in one swoop took away the power of the whole reality-TV-culture commentary.
  • I didn't realize this until I read it online, but District 11 does not send Katniss bread. That one act took the story beyond what's happening to Katniss to the beginnings of a rebellion: to people across districts working together. While I liked watching the riots on screen, that wasn't really what it represented.
  • While I agree with most of Aishwarya's brilliant criticism here, I don't agree that the movie was more political. They don't underline what a totalitarian state it is: even though it's evident in the ubiquitousness of stormtroopers peacekeepers, the non-electrified fence, the starvation of the people... it's not explicitly spelled out. District 12 could have been a regular, though poor, coal-mining district instead of virtual slaves to a totalitarian regime.
  • In line with which, I was really disappointed that there was no conversation with Rue about District 11. In the book, this was a moment of revelation for Katniss. When she realized that poor as she was, her district had things better. When the reader realizes that lovely young Rue was a virtual slave (and definitely bonded labor) back home. The fact that people know next to nothing about districts apart from their own also emphasized the authoritarian regime and the common people's powerlessness.
  • Given that Katniss doesn't quite fake her attraction towards Peeta, there's no shocking revelation for Peeta at the end of the movie. Just Katniss seeing Prim and Gale together. At least Gale looks all happy here and not, you know, still jealous.
  • [Edited to add] Prim in the movie is a coward. In the book, she's scared but she doesn't cry out at the Reaping: she walks to her fate, she tries to stop Katniss from volunteering and Gale has to carry her away. They did not have to make Prim cowardly to make Katniss more heroic or to make the moment more poignant.
The problem with movies like this (this one, the Harry Potter movies, and so on) is that they're usually disappointing once I've watched them but I can't seem to bring myself to not watch them. The original stories are so good even a diluted, not-nearly-as-good version, extends my pleasure, if not nearly enough. (In that vein, I found the Lord of the Rings movies quite wholly satisfying. And some of the changes they made were actually for the better.)

Anyway. What did I miss? Did you like the movie?

9 comments:

thatguy101 said...

All in all, i feel the same way. I felt Katniss to be to capable in the areana. She finds water, traps food, and hatches plans with little or no effort. And I felt the games lacked any sence of real danger. At the start of the games when when the tributes are standing on the pillars, they're all poised like they're about to take part in a fifty yard dash where at the end the victor gets a cookie. there's nothing on these kids faces that says they beleive thay might die in just a few seconds. Then the carears, the tributes who have been training for the games they're entire lifes, are Giggling and Skipping through the woods without any real sence of danger. Made it look like a High school Easter egg hunt.

thatguy101 said...

All in all, i feel the same way. I felt Katniss to be to capable in the areana. She finds water, traps food, and hatches plans with little or no effort. And I felt the games lacked any sence of real danger. At the start of the games when when the tributes are standing on the pillars, they're all poised like they're about to take part in a fifty yard dash where at the end the victor gets a cookie. there's nothing on these kids faces that says they beleive thay might die in just a few seconds. Then the carears, the tributes who have been training for the games they're entire lifes, are Giggling and Skipping through the woods without any real sence of danger. Made it look like a High school Easter egg hunt.

Unmana said...

That Guy: First time commenter, I believe! Welcome.

And I know, right? It was all so... trivial. In the book, Katniss finds water after two days, and it's her first big trial in the arena. I guess they toned down a lot of the stuff for a young audience, but the Capitol doesn't come off as nearly as menacing as it does in the book. So I have to believe the next two movies will make less sense: but we'll see.

LeannHelena said...

Also they left out the avox girl which was a big part of Katniss' back story. I also didn't like the fact that they didn't have the flying pod things take away the bodies. Katniss put flowers around Rue knowing that when her body was picked up they would see it. Another downfall was because they did not show the gamemakers taking the bodies we didn't the actual mutations of the mutts. They should have had the eyes of the dead contestants which makes that part even scarier. Overall, I enjoyed the book more because of Katniss' thoughts and the details that were so overlooked in the movie.

LeannHelena said...

Also they left out the avox girl which was a big part of Katniss' back story. I also didn't like the fact that they didn't have the flying pod things take away the bodies. Katniss put flowers around Rue knowing that when her body was picked up they would see it. Another downfall was because they did not show the gamemakers taking the bodies we didn't the actual mutations of the mutts. They should have had the eyes of the dead contestants which makes that part even scarier. Overall, I enjoyed the book more because of Katniss' thoughts and the details that were so overlooked in the movie.

Unmana said...

LeannHelena: Yeah, it was sad that the Avoxes were just background, though I hope their stories are told in the next movie.

In the book, the bodies are picked up by cranes. And yeah, I agree with you, they should have shown that. But they just left out a lot of the icky parts. I wonder if they left out the mutts' eyes being like the dead tributes because of technical reasons or because they wanted it to be less scary.

Erin said...

I was not as touched with the movie as the book. I am one of those people that have to have details. My imagination must have run wild while reading because I was very disapointed in the movie. I was very upset with them taking out how she was given the pin. I thought it was important to the story and the rebellion. And the whole thing didn't seem as life threatening in the movie as it did in the book. But I had to put the rest of the book out of my mind to watch the remaining parts of the movie and it was nice. I hope the next movie turns out better.

Unmana said...

Erin: I totally agree with you that the movie lost out because it ignored the details. Thanks for commenting!

Krisyrn said...

I felt the movie lacked any desperation. Things went too smoothly. The cave scenes were shortened. Peeta's wound was not to the bone, nor did they mention blood poisoning. Or the sleep syrup. The final scenes seemed rushed and shortened. Katniss didn't bang on the glass screaming for Peeta. She wasn't forcefully strapped into the bed and given drugs while her body healed. She wasn't locked in her room. And she didn't look like she was starving during the games. That was for sure. Or becoming dehydrated. The toned down everything to keep the rating, but I think they should have just done the book justice, and let it get an R rating.