The Hunger Games Made Me Hungry For More

All anyone talks about these days is “The Hunger Games” since the movie hit the silver screen on March 23.

Of course, the novel came out years ago (2008, in case you were wondering), and of course there wasn’t much hype about the books until there was talk about the movie. This has been the case for many books-turned-movies before, even Harry Potter. Which reminds me…

I haven’t really enjoyed a book-based film this much since Harry Potter. And by enjoy, I mean love. I loved Harry Potter, and I love the Hunger Games.

Gary Ross took the film in a direction that many directors seem to have forgotten works: He followed the plot line of the novel. There’s a reason the books are best-seller’s, and Ross managed to leave the basic storyline intact. I’m sure having Suzanne Collins, the author of “The Hunger Games” trilogy, assist in writing the screenplay didn’t hurt either.

For those of you who haven’t caught the “Hunger Games” bug and have no idea why it’s such a big deal, let me explain to you the premise of the story. The actual Hunger Games event is an event held every year by the Capitol — the government of the country, Panem, that dictates over 12 districts — where a boy and girl from each district is chosen from a lottery to play in the Games. As a constant reminder of how the Capitol is in control of all the districts, they take these children and place them in an arena to fight to the death and only one child will survive and win. What makes it even sicker, is that the whole event is broadcast on National TV.

Katniss Everdeen, a hunter known for her skill with a bow, and Peeta Mellark, the bakery boy who’s skill is strength, are chosen from District 12, a poor and starving district built around mining. “The Hunger Games” explains the journey Katniss and Peeta take through Katniss’s perceptive, sarcastic, guarded perspective.

The film, while it lacked gore and blood (something that is definitely applaud-worthy for a PG-13 rating, nowadays), was still shockingly violent.

The idea of 12 to 18 year-olds bludgeoning each other until there is a sole survivor, made me want to vomit the cherry Slurpee I downed during the 20-minute previews; not because of the actual actions I was witnessing, but the mere concept of children killing each other on a reality TV-show is horrifying. There was no blood spraying about or intestines spilling to the ground, yet I was more disturbed watching “The Hunger Games” than “Saw III.”

It was perfect.

Many films try to be as graphic and gore-y as they possibly can, forgetting that we, the audience, do not need to have every single bit of action spelled out for us. The fact that the audience could use their imagination to create the blood-bath in their minds, rather than just seeing it on the screen, made the violent scenes have much more impact.

And while everything else about the movie, down to the flaming and sparkling costumes of main characters, Katniss and Peeta, was practically perfect, there are always a few things a nit-picky viewer who-already-read-the-book must critique about a film.

First of all, the movie didn’t take nearly enough time to develop the characters the way Collins did in the book. But, that probably could have added another hour to an already long movie.

Second, I really hated the “romantic scene” where Peeta smeared medicine (and blood) all over Katniss’s forehead. He gazed longingly into her eyes, and then went for it. They kissed and I  cringed. Just how much more awkward and syrupy sweet could it get?

The mockingjay pin is also upsetting. In the novel, Katniss receives the valuable, gold pin from Madge, the mayor of District 12′s daughter, who also plays a role in the second novel. However, in the movie, she just picks it up when she’s at the market like it’s no big deal. This seems like a small change, but for those who have read the second novel, it wasn’t something that should have been messed with.

Other than those few unfortunate moments that, in retrospect, were really only five or ten minutes of the 150-minute movie —  it was great. And while slight dialogue changes, and minor tweaks (like the above mentioned moments) may have made some loyal readers grumbly, they were just meant to speed up the movie.

While I love when movies are exactly like the books, I must get a hold of reality and realize that they have time constraints. Not every movie can be four hours and 34 minutes like  ”Gone With the Wind” (which still left out some of the 1,027-page book’s plot). I can accept that.

But I can always hope that the next film of “The Hunger Games” trilogy — which I’m beyond excited for — can fulfill my expectations and hunger for more.

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