Dear Hunger Games fans,
The reviews are in. Critics are saying it's incredible, the most faithful book to movie adaptation seen yet, and amazing. I've also had friends say much the same as Friday morning I awoke to find statuses citing it as amazing, awesome, and "the business." The hype had me eager as I went to the local IMAX hoping to get blown away as I sat anxiously waiting for the previews to start. Okay, I'm done building up dramatic tension when you know what I'm going to say, I did not like The Hunger Games.
No, it wasn't because Katniss was "too big" or because Rue was an African American (both are real gripes cited by other critics). Don't get me wrong, I wasn't mad when I left the theater, and I didn't think it was unwatchable by any means, but I certainly won't be watching it again. Why? Possibly due to anticipation, mostly due to representation.
I didn't read the book, and that without a doubt set a learning curve for the movie right out of the gate. While my girlfriend had read the series, I was left behind as characters were introduced with no explanation, connection to the story, or meaningful dialogue. Scenes that were intended to be meaningful for me at times fell flat because I didn't know anything about the character or why I should care. It's my opinion that many scenes from the movie assumed that the audience viewing would have read the book.
For example, the constant flashback where Peeta was giving Katniss food made absolutely no sense to me. At the beginning, I see a girl hunting for game, and now I see a couple weeks ago she was hanging out by a tree in the rain starving? It wasn't until after I found out that the scene took place after the death of her father and happened years back that it was cleared up for me, but then why didn't they make her look younger? They should've done something to show time was passed, as it really confused me. It wasn't the only scene either, but let's move on to some other points before you skip to the bottom and spew hate.
The Hunger Games is not the most faithful book to movie adaptation by any stretch. These are not my words. As I mentioned, I did not read the book. This criticism came from my girlfriend, mother and best friend who all had separate gripes for things changed in the movie that were integral to the plot of the story. The biggest one? The origins of the Mockingjay pin and the death of the game maker. Apparently these hold a lot of weight in the series and were changed by the movie. Besides those two, there was one detail of the book highlighted to me that I was especially excited for that I felt needed to be in the movie and was saddened to find it was not.
How can I hate the people of the Capitol if I don't know how cruel the people running it are? A scene early in the book featured the hovercraft in the movie sucking up a couple trying to escape into the wilderness. According to my friends, the man was shot and the woman sent away to the capitol to have her tongue cut out and be a servant. That would've been awesome but was cut from the movie. How about the overall indulgence and greed of the people of the capitol that Katniss witnesses on her arrival? No mention of that either? There was a lot of potential here to really send a message about consumerism, greed, and perhaps guilt about first world living, but unfortunately wasn't deemed necessary for the movie.
What did make the cut, however, were many shaky scenes of violence towards children. This was possibly my number one gripe that will have Battle Royale loyalists cheering in unison. They tried to equal the level of violence found in the Japanese movie with a similar plot line, and failed. It wasn't even that it needed to be violent to be effective. A simple camera turn away, an off camera crunch, ambiguous blood flying everywhere, all would have been better than the quick camera blurring that teased you with witnessing a cruel fate, and then moved on. Instead of working off the fear of child execution, they opted to make it a PG-13 blood bath, which I didn't appreciate.
The final gripe, which hurt the most for me, was the very Twilight feel to the whole experience. In the books, Katniss was a fiercly independent girl forced to fend for herself and her sister in an impovershed district where survival was slim. If this is true, then why did I get the vibe that I was watching Bella on screen? Already we can see the much hyped Peeta and Gale rivalry, which makes little sense as the events at the end of the first movie do not play out like the first book at the end, which would allude to her preference it seems.
The acting in Hunger Games also mirrored the first Twilight movie, being very dull and emotionless with bouts of screaming dispersed randomly. It was also Woody Harrelson's worst role since...well, this might be the first time I disliked him in a movie. I did enjoy Lenny Kravitz though, although he wasn't on the soundtrack. Oh yeah, the soundtrack with original tracks from popular bands of today. Chalk another one up for Twilight.
I think what I'm getting at is this. Hunger Games has a deep message. It mirrors impoverished countries where the elite are few and the most powerful. It talks about revolution, something very relevant in our nations history. It highlights the apathy in our world where people will stuff their faces to the fullest tonight as a family starves not miles away.
If this is what the Hunger Games is about, then why was I subjected to 2 hours and 22 minutes of teeny bopper bullshit? If it was safe enough for young kids to read about...why was it not safe to show them?