Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some Hunger Games thoughts

Setup: I am a huge fan and proponent of adults reading kids' literature. The Harry Potter books are fantastic, as are some other selections.

Caveat: I have read The Hunger Games but only book one. I have not read the second or third books in the series and, frankly, do not plan on doing so. I did not love the book. It seems slightly overrated, the Oreo of books: a lot of buildup and popularity when there are far better, lesser known options out there.

Thoughts: The movie left me with the same exact feeling I got after finishing the book. I thought the story and plot were viscous almost to the point of being unnecessarily ghoulish. Obviously the movie plot stems straight from the novel so it is through no fault of the movie producers this exists. Nevertheless, this exists.

With this gruesome, over the top story arc, the scenes progress almost like a fairy tale. It is a juxtaposition I cannot overcome as a reader/watcher.  Everything horrible is happening yet every additional piece of information falls into place perfectly to suit our protagonists, almost on cue. I suppose this is the dynamic that should exist in a children's book but it doesn't do it for me.

Beyond the book problems that carried over to the movie, the film had some of its own drawbacks. Skipping over massive amounts of narrative left emotional holes in the story arc. At one point, when it is revealed two children will be allowed to win if they come from the same district, Katniss thinks of Peeta and the possibility of both of them surviving. So with the turn of her heel, she departs and immediately finds his blood trail and stumbles literally right on top of him, even though the movie never addressed that Katniss ever even knew Peeta was bleeding, let alone hiding.

These skips in plot are necessary for a movie to cover so much from a detailed piece of text yet the movie did a rather poor job. With the omissions the writers chose, they somehow managed to still make the movie feel way too long, as it dragged on much of the pre-Games fanfare that I did not find particularly engaging.

Not everything was bad. There were a few misty moments, a few heartstrings being pulled but I think that may have more to do with kids being in such grave peril and impossibly ridiculous situations that touches my sensitivity rather than how it was portrayed on screen. I felt the eyes water when Katniss volunteered to take her sister's place just because I knew it was supposed to be touching even though the scene itself seemed a bit awkward in its execution. The same can be said for Rue's demise, who I knew I was supposed to care about greatly but the movie failed to build her up as anything more than a squirrely girl in a tree.

Closing: Haymitch is no Mad Eye Moody.

(Image courtesy of

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