Dystopian novel prevails

Never judge a movie by its book. Crazy idea, right?It’s hard not to compare The Hunger Games movie to the successful book that it was adapted from. As with all film adaptations of novels, the plot in the movie will never be as detailed as the books (or else we’d have a four hour movie, and most people couldn’t bare the thought of sitting in a theater for that long).

Here’s the good and bad of what they hit, what was missed and what was added into one of the most anticipated films of the year.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the movie/read the book, and do not wish to be spoiled, turn back now or I’ll send you into the arena to fight till death.

Let’s start from the beginning.

First off, they should have given the audience an idea of where the country of Panem was located on a geographical scale. In the book, we know that Panem is a part of North America and that would have been cool to give the audience a sense of whichever state they’re in becoming a future district.

Katniss starts off hunting in the woods with Gale, and they see a hovercraft in the woods on the day of the reaping, delivering the eccentric Effie Trinket to District 12. In the book, the hovercraft is only mentioned in a flashback when Katniss and Gale are hunting; they see the Avox girl get captured by the Capitol and abducted by the vehicle.

A major change was where Katniss got the infamous Mockingjay pin. In the books, she gets it as a token representing her district from the mayor’s daughter, Madge, after she volunteered as a tribute. The Madge character wasn’t even included in the film and neither was the mayor.

Speaking of authority figures, the audience got to know President Snow and the games producer, Seneca Crane, a bit more in the film than in the books. In the book series, these two character don’t really get a lot of scenes until the second book, Catching Fire.

Another thing that doesn’t get mentioned until book two, but was present in the movie, was the riot in District 11 after Rue’s death. This was a nice touch to the film because it sets up the plot and prepares the audience for the sequel.

Unfortunately, the one thing the movie didn’t emphasize enough was the actual hunger part of the Hunger Games. From the very beginning of the book, the reader got a sense of the fact that these people might die from starvation more than anything else. They didn’t show Katniss’ greatest skill of hunting for food in the arena. The other thing that wasn’t emphasized enough was the gruesome brutality of it all, but that may have been because of the movie’s PG-13 rating.

The movie also did not emphasize the fact that the tributes were in the arena for weeks, not just days. That may have been difficult to portray on film given the amount of screen time they had. This sped things up, like in the amount of time that Katniss and Rue formed their alliance to Katniss and Peeta’s scenes together. This made things feel a bit rushed.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta grew stronger during the time they were keeping shelter in the cave, (again, in the book it was for several nights, but in the movie it seemed like only one), and the fact that Peeta was extremely ill made Katniss realize how much she wanted him in her life.

In the movie, Peeta only had one stab wound in the leg, while in the book he had an infection from the wound, causing him to gain a fever and reach the verge of death. In order to get to the Cornucopia to retrieve the medicine that was provided for them, without Peeta knowing, Katniss was forced to drug him with a sleeping syrup that was parachuted in from her sponsors. In the film, Katniss is able to make the trip while Peeta falls asleep naturally, without any sleeping meds.

They failed to mention that the mutts that were sent in to kill the last of the tributes were genetically modified from the DNA of the tributes that were already killed. This gave the mutts an eerie familiarity in their features, including the same exact eyes as their human DNA-carriers.

Lastly, one thing that I applaud the filmmakers for was in the final scene in the arena. Cato, the main villain out of all the tributes, has Peeta hostage, ready to be thrown over to the genetically modified mutts to his death when he delivers a heart-breaking monologue during which he admits that killing is all that he was raised to do. This makes the audience sympathize for him, realizing that he’s only just a kid, just a pawn in the Capitol’s games and he really didn’t have a choice of being who is was in the society they grew up in.

Overall, for a movie adaptation, on an emotional scale it did the book justice; but as with all films, no movie will ever be able to successfully portray the amount of details from a book. The casting was terrific; Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta were great choices along with the casting for the other minor characters.

As a fan of the book series, I think they did the best they could with a PG-13 rating and two hours and 22 minutes of screen time. I am excited to see what they’ll do for the next film.