Few movies manage to capture to true essence of a book. Fortunately, for fans, The Hunger Games succeeded where films like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Eragon failed. There were changes, as expected, but not ones that were detrimental to the feeling of the story.
Immediately fans see how terrified Primrose Everdeen, the main character Katniss’s sister, is of the reaping that day. It’s clear from the beginning how much Katniss cares for her sister—and how emotionally distant she is from her mother. This scene sets the feel for the rest of the film beautifully.
The casting choices for The Hunger Games fit perfectly. Willow Shields broke hearts as young Prim. Woody Harrelson captured Haymitch perfectly—and hilariously. Josh Hutcherson portrayed Peeta’s feelings towards Katniss and his own life in a moving, meaningful way. The spirit and soul of Katniss comes out brilliantly through Jennifer Lawrence. Each cast member brought his character to life in a believable, fitting fashion.
The addition of scenes not from the books didn’t detract from the story; they enhanced it and set up for Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The scenes with President Snow brought chills to the skin while the moments in the Gamemakers room contained a mixture of horror and fascination. The ones orchestrating the obstacles in the area seemed proud of sending children to their deaths. The technology, though, is quite interesting to see. Think Iron Man’s computer system.
As with any adaptation, some scenes don’t make the cut while others face alterations. The only real complaint in this department is that if a person hasn’t read the book, she may find herself confused on a few points. Fortunately, through the role of Caesar Flickerman, there’s some explanation throughout the Games. It’s almost like sports commentary. It’s easy to miss details like who Foxface is, that Peeta and Katniss trained together at first and that Haymitch was a former tribute.
As expected, the movie contains dozens of incidents of violence. Through shaky camera work and angled shots, viewers see what happens without it being gratuitous. The shaking shots can make viewers a bit dizzy or disorientated, so this is definitely not a movie to watch up close. The amount of blood is enough to make the point without taking it too far. There’s a certain feeling of wrongness accompanied with watching children fight to the death; a feeling present in the books and that fans should never lose. Director Gary Ross captured the horror in an effective method.
Because of the extreme violence and emotionally gripping scenes, The Hunger Games is somewhat hard to watch. From the moment when Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place to the trials in the area, it’s impossible to remain completely calm. Be prepared for tears, laughter and anxiety. It’s difficult to watch characters die, especially ones that worm their way into the hearts of fans without us realizing it. It’s worth it, though.
The Hunger Games is a must-see not only for fans of the book, but the general public. Katniss Everdeen is a true heroine, one that we can all admire. If the box office numbers tells us anything, it’s that the a movie lead by such a fantastic character with an amazing story can and will take the world by storm.