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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Movie Adaptions of Books: The Hunger Games

If you're like me, then you'll agree that movies are generally not as good as their book counterparts. Unfortunately, it is often because a movie is coming to the 'big screens' that a lot of people even take notice of the book. They come out with a huge hype about the movie, and then people who've read the book, or who will read the book later, end up disappointed when they compare it to the book (or in the case of the Twilight movies, just how bad the movies are, period.)

The Hunger Games, for instance. I hadn't heard about The Hunger Games until people started going on about the movie. It caught my interest, and I ended up watching the film first (about a week before reading the book). But even without reading the book, there were moments I thought 'this is bound to be a better scene in the book'. After reading the book, I found that I was mostly right.

I'll focus on characters. First, Rue, who I thought we only got a proper glance at for two minutes during the film. While Rue and Katniss don't develop the deepest relationship in the book, I found that we still got a better sense of the way Katniss related Rue to her own little sister, Prim. We got to actually know her a little better in the book, and learn about her District and where she'd come from. In the movie, she's just a kid who hides in shadows and comes out to buddy up with Katniss until... well. Ya'll know what happened there.

Peeta. I HATED, Peeta in the movie. I couldn't stand him. But in the book, I thought he was the sweetest. The way the movie showed him giving the bread to Katniss when they were younger confused me, while I got it quite clearly in the book. In the movie, I couldn't tell if he was trying to be horrible to her by throwing it to the ground and giving so much to the pigs, instead of putting it straight into her hands. And as far as his 'love' for her went, I wasn't quite so convinced in the movie. I felt like he was acting as much as she was at points. In the book, I believed much more of it.

Haymitch. Complete opposite to my reaction to Peeta. I loved him in the movies and despised him in the books. He seemed a lot more caring and nurturing of Katniss especially in the movie, after she and Peeta had made it clear that they meant business in the Games and actually wanted to stand a chance. In the book, it didn't seem to matter how much he wanted them to win; I don't think he could have been more of an $*#hole if he tried. It bugs me when the movie changes a character's personality.

And of course, we have the ending of the film to compare to the ending of the book. Hm. I have to say, I hate it when they change the endings. I mean, for something like Harry Potter, where it ends with the Hogwarts Express taking everybody back to Kings Cross every time, that's a little different.

Of course, there were still a couple of good pointers to the movie. I liked the way the movie allowed us to escape from Katniss's point of view now and then. We see Haymitch interacting with sponsors, and we see people back in the districts watching the Games. Showing those other perspectives which go unseen in the novel gives a fuller, better idea of what is going on in their world.

Overall, I'm not saying that it was a bad movie. I enjoyed the movie, and I'm glad I saw it before I read the book. But it didn't live up to the hype it was given. Expected, but disappointing nonetheless.

What did you think of the movie adaption of The Hunger Games? Any other film adaptions you'd like to give a mention?

- Bonnee.

20 comments:

  1. I did a blog post about the movie version of THG a while back; in a nutshell, it's not BAD, but given the hype it's not nearly as good as one would have hoped. (That's likely double the case for fans of the book.)

    ...Actually, now that I'm taking a minute to look over that old post, I'm starting to realize that the movie had a lot of problems. Rue barely left an impact on me or the movie. Katniss is almost completely clean throughout the entire movie, betraying the affect of rugged survival. The relationship with Peeta (and Katniss and Peeta in general) were problematic in my eyes. Coupled with some logical goofs and a less-than-notable antagonistic force, in retrospect I'm starting to think that THG movie is -- to quote Bob "MovieBob" Chipman, "kind of mediocre."

    Well, whatever. If nothing else, it did the job of making me want to read the books, so I'd call that a win. Unfortunately, it also means that I have zero intention of seeing the inevitable sequel movies.

    You can see me ramble and rant in full if you're interested, but for what it's worth, I'll gladly admit that the property and concept of THG is an exciting one. It just needs to stay off the big screen.

    http://cross-up.blogspot.com/2012/03/hunger-games-pun-based-subtitle-with.html

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    1. I definitely see what you mean about Rue's impact (or lack thereof) and Katniss' cleanliness despite how she rarely had a chance to wash in the book. I'd definitely describe the movie as "kind of mediocre", but like with you, it convinced me enough to pick up the book and read it. They've announced the sequel movie, Catching Fire, for November I believe.

      I'm not against film adaptions, but they need to be done right. If they can't be done right, that's when I say they need to be kept off the big screen.

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  2. Hmm, haven't seen the film yet. I figure at some point I will, maybe around the time I read the other two books.

    In terms of other film adaptations, one bad, one good. The Golden Compass was horrible, I thought, just a very poor adaptation of what was a very good book. On the other side of things, Fight Club was an excellent adaptation, and I found it really captured the feel of the book.

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    1. As I said, there were parts of the movie that outdid what was in the book, but the portrayal of characters and their relationships wasn't very well done... in my not-so-humble opinion anyway.

      I was too young to not enjoy The Golden Compass movie when it came out, though I haven't seen it since, and I've never read the book. I've neither read nor seen Fight Club, though I've been told I should. Thanks for stopping over JeffO :)

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  3. The lack of development of the Katniss/Rue relationship is what bothered me most, too. Because I'd read the book first, I was still able to imagine the bond between them on screen, but I agree, it was much stronger in the novel. Along the same lines, I was also disappointed that the movie didn't include the scene where Rue's district sends Katniss the bread as a thank you gift. It was so poignant in the book and I think it would've helped show the depth of their connection in the movie.

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    1. Yes, that little gesture of thanks from District 11 was very meaningful and shouldn't have been left out. I did like the reaction of District 11 that was shown after Rue had died though. Still, the movie nowhere near covered the relationship between Katniss and Rue sufficiently.

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  4. I agree with a lot of your comments, particularly the ones concerning Peeta (I found him embarrassing in the movie frankly) and Katniss' connection to Rue. Personally I really hated Haymitch in the film because he was nothing like what he's meant to be in the books. But obviously since I read the books first, I went into the movie theatre with a pre-conceived idea of what he should be like.

    The one thing I really did like about the film, as you say, is the moments we don't see in the book. Seneca Crane's portrayal in particular was great, and it's an aspect I think could have been easily established in the book, since you don't actually find out about Seneca Crane's demise until Catching Fire.

    Great review, Bonnee!

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    1. I hate that I was able to like Haymitch in the film, because I hadn't read the books and didn't know he was supposed to be so much more of a meanie. I'm glad he was a meanie in the books though. You need a good-guy that you can't help hating.

      See, I had to Google who Seneca Crane was, because he wasn't mentioned in the first book and I can't remember many of the not-so-prominent characters in the movie. When reading, I actually thought that 'the guy with the cool facial hair' from the movie must have been Claudius Templesmith... so now I'mma have to google what he looked like too. I did like the bit they added about Crane at the end though, even if it was earlier than it should have been.

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  5. Ok, well I agree basically with everything everyone has said. Pheu, there is so much I could say here since I am a fanatic of the books as well as a die-hard Jennifer Lawrence fan, and a fan of Josh Hutcherson ever since he was in The Journey...
    I thought that the acting was excellent in the film over-all, but that the actors did not have enough script to work with. Liam Hemsworth, I dont know, he didnt work as Gale for me.. Actually, the whole portrayal of people in the districts was lame, they are supposed to be barely surviving!!!! And the same in the areana, none of the emotion of desperation was portrayed over time, just short moments, and it was like, ok thats over everything is fine.
    Movie adaptations rarely live up to our expectations, but I was really hoping that this film would be different... Honestly in the time span that was given to Susan Collins to write the script, I have to say they did not do to bad, but I am really looking forward to Mocking Jay being in two parts.
    I agree with you about Rue totally, and Peeta as well. Haymitch, I hated him in the film, I hated him when I read The Hunger Games also; over time though you find out who he is, why he is that way, and I even learned to like him alot. I have no clue how they are going to be able to make him who he is supposed to be in the next three films.

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    1. I didn't have a problem with the acting at all and I liked Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

      I'd have to watch the movie again to decide whether or not I agreed with Gale's portrayal, though I liked how we had a chance to see his reaction to the KatnissXPeeta thing. I understand where you're coming from as far as that desperation and fear portrayal goes. It was too 'okay' too often in the film.

      Mockingjay is coming in two parts? Who started this wretched trend? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn... The Hobbit is coming out in THREE installment apparently... *sigh*

      I'm interested now to find out more about Haymitch... :D

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  6. I have to say I am a sucker for Film Adaptations. Generally they are not as good as the book but I love to compare. For example, I am reading "Something Borrowed" right now and one thing really sticks out to me. The best friend in the movie who ends up falling for her is half way across the world the ENTIRE book. How did he get such a role in the movie?

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    1. Glad that you're able to enjoy film adaptions :) Isn't it strange how different a film can be from its book though, like the character on the other side of the world? In the Hunger Games movie, we meet and see the demise of the head Gamemaker, when he isn't even mentioned until the second book.

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  7. First, general comments. Books have more space to develop characters and their thoughts and they let the reader's imagination flow. Films are visual and the viewer doesn't have to think much. The viewer is fed with a spoon all the story in the movie. For me it is much easier to watch movies than reading books, so I rather see the film adaption than read the book. There is an element of laziness by just siting and watching the movie.
    I don't think that a film's adaption of a book must follow the book in everything. We should look at the book and the film as two events to enjoy without comparing too much.
    Now about the HUNGER GAMES, I watched all the movie (Naturally) and only read maybe like 20% of the book. I like the movie mainly because of Katniss and the actress that played her. It was a good fit and I really wanted to know what will happen next to Katniss. I don't expect to read any more from the HUNGER GAMES but expect to watch all the movies. Same with HARRY POTTER. I barely read the first chapter, but watched three movies. Same with TWILIGHT. I am very curious to see the film adaption of 50 SHADES OF GREY. I am reading now slowly 50 SHADES DARKER and get to page 70 and I have no idea how this book became the biggest mega best seller. It is so different from what literary agents and publishers ask author to write. She had like maybe over 30 emails in the book so far and gave a list like .. I eat a banana. I eat Yogurt. I listen to this song and that song and that song. It really breaks many rules of how to write a great novel ... but it sold over 20 million copies. Just amazing.

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    1. I think I'm definitely more of a book person than a movie person in the sense that I prefer that extra development of the characters and the ability to create my own image of them, rather than have someone else decide for me and spoon feed it to me. As a literature student, I can't help but compare the book and movie anymore; we did a whole bloody unit on film adaptions and had to write essays and everything. The fact that I was a media student too... Basically, I analyze the cake out of every text I consume.

      I need to look into 50 Shades of Grey... I've heard so much about it. Who published it? Or was it self-published? Because I heard that a lot of agents rejected it, because - you're right - it breaks a lot of rules and it isn't what agents are generally looking for. Personally - from what I've heard - I think the reason it sold so much was because of the explicit content. I don't know how they're going to make a film adaption of it and not call it a porno. Really is amazing how many copies it's sold!

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  8. I think if you don't want to be too disappointed in a movie, then watch it before you read the book. Books have time to develop characters and spend the time on those special scenes. Also if you read the book first you set up an image in your mind of what the characters look like. Only in rare cases is the movie better eg The Princess Bride.

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    1. That is what I tend to do, especially if I hadn't heard about the book until I'd seen the movie. I probably would have out-right hated the movie if I'd read The Hunger Games first. The thing I don't like about seeing the movie first is that someone tells me what they're supposed to look like, while I LIKE creating their image for myself.

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  9. I have to read a book before the movie or else I won't read it ever. And I tend to look at a movie as an entirely different beast than the book. It doesn't bother me if they are different, I'm usually just excited a book I love was made for the big screen. :) Btw, I loved the Hunger Games...book and movie. :)

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    1. I had that same problem as a kid... I'm glad I've grown past it, because now I can enjoy both. The only thing that bothers me when it's different is if the difference is severe; character personality, the omission of a big event or my favourite scene in the book (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry has to solve a riddle in the maze... THEY LEFT IT OUT OF THE MOVIE!!!)

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  10. I read the first book in THG trilogy but I haven't seen the movie. And I agree with you--the books are often better than the movies. Though when it comes to a franchise like The Lord of the Rings, I'm fairly split between the two.

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    1. I was lucky enough to be introduced to LOTR when I was a little kid and hated reading (especially big fat books like LOTR). Anyway, Peter Jackson. Need I say more? I am sad to have heard of some really cool scenes in the books that didn't make it to the movie, or that were changed. Nonetheless, I haven't read the books myself and can't compare and I love the movies just fine.

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