Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

Now, to start off, when I first heard about the book being done into a movie, I was a bit lost: one, I still don’t quite get the hype that the book got to begin with (I do get that it at least has a strong female protagonist, with is a complete opposite contrast from what we were dealing with in books/movies for a bit); and I wasn’t really sure how they planned to do a movie of a book that was so very heavily carried by narration. The first bit, as I said, I at least get that it had a female worth rooting for; as far as the second bit, most of the story was told by Katniss’ real-time first-person view with very little dialogue and buttloads of flashbacking to give more character definition, so the best solution I would have thought would be to run the movie with Katniss narrating through most of it (not quite ‘Wonder Years’ or ‘Christmas Story’ level, but at least enough to carry the story).

That was what I was expecting, and that’s not what we got. So almost every detail of the story that was relying on the narration to tell you what was going on through the book, was completely lost in the movie… that gesture, with the kissing the fingers and looking like they were in Girl Scouts, if you didn’t read the book, did you have any idea what the hell was going on there? Or were you just staring with a ‘WTF’ expression… I read the book, and I knew what was going on, and even I was ‘WTF.’ Most of this movie was spent actually skipping clear over the bits that were entirely narration, and going right to the scenes and dialogue without caring if there was anything involving rhyme or reason for anything going on. There was no explanation for at least half the shit that was going on in the movie, there was flat out no character definition for anyone (which would be because that was done entirely in narration in the book). Which is kinda funny, because when I first proof-read the book back-when, I told Sue that the whole bit about Prim’s name was coming off as babbling, it was unnecessary and did nothing but say how much the author clearly liked the name ‘Prim,’ and frankly just felt crow-barred in (which is never a good feeling to have right at the beginning of the book)—but now, I actually kinda missed it because instead of having that detail of character definition, we were left with nothing, I had almost no reason to care about Prim, other than, she was 12, and was Katniss’ sister.

I don’t even know how far to go with this at pointing out all the character definition flaws that the movie created, pretty much, if there was any detail of character definition at all, it was skipped right the fuck over. Removing the mayor’s daughter, Madge, and even the freakin’ mayor… that was dumb, the pin coming from her was actually important, even the part where they removed all her dealings with the peace keepers, these details help define the difference between 12, and, later, 11—which adds to Rue having that much less definition.

So, without any narrative stuff in the way, they cut the crap out of the set up chapters, and then we are into her getting dressed (because we skipped almost everything on the train—nothing important there apparently) and developing a trust with her designer—oh’no wait… we actually just met the designer for like a minute scene, and moved on. So, now when he tells her to act like it’s him she’s talking to, that doesn’t really make any sense anymore—“You got me to like you.” “Sicko…”

And then we run through the training bit, most of which didn’t make much sense, but whatever, because that was supposed to be just trim for the scenes between it: coming up with strat, talking between Kat, and Peeta, meeting the servant girl with no tongue that Kat felt guilty for not saving back in the woods—oh, wait… we skipped all of that… so now I guess we just have a pointless training montage instead… you’d think they could of at least put some catchy 80s music in the background to help move it.

Ok, then we’re in the interviews where Kat freaks, then twirls, then moves on, then Peeta declares his love for Kat (this scene wasn’t really done too badly, I was just too busy being pissed about everything else still, that I didn’t care anymore).

Then we go into the prepping room for the Games (which was broken up funny, and added in that they were all on the same ship, instead of isolated, but whatever), her now creepy designer dresses her and sneaks the now pointless pin (that’s still on the covers of the book and movie) and they move on, and boom, tracking devices injected, we’re in the games.

Now, maybe it was just the way I saw it in my head when I read it, or they were way too damn close when they started off… which bugged me, but by this point, I barely cared about that detail. Games start, most bloodless bloodbath ever begins (I’m not really too upset about this, I actually would have been surprised if things were spelled out in the movie with kids killing kids in as much detail as the book. Kat grabs a bag, uses pretty much nothing in it, making the risking of her life for it just stupid now. She finds water so fast that she damn near tripped into it from the start, as opposed to the character defining detail of almost dieing of thirst (but that was all narration, so, skip it). And then, “oh, she’s going over there, set a very small detail of the forest on fire so she doesn’t, and give her a minor injury.” That was probably bigger for every detail in the book… but again, maybe it was just in my head.

So, she’s in the easily found water again (because the shit is just everywhere), and the group finds her and she’s in the tree. Rue points out the tracker-jackers (still a dumb name) and apparently dropping it on them is her idea now (that was never clear in the book, because she’s supposed to be an innocent 12 year-old… never mind that though, apparently not important). Now she’s trippin’ balls off tracker goo (which wasn’t done badly, it just still seemed downplayed from what it should have been), and wakes-up finding Rue put leaves on her (don’t bother explaining that, didn’t in anyway tell us anything about Rue or 11—oh, wait, that probably could have helped a bit, even given more reason to care when Rue died… even more reason to care about 11 freakin’ out—they added that part and still couldn’t tell us why we should care). So she’s pals with Rue now, and they eat, but no conversation (seriously, so few points of dialogue in the book, and you missed this—oh, wait, you knew it would of made of care about Rue and why the fuck is Kat crying about her, and we can’t have any of that caring about anything happening crap in this movie).

Now she has Rue making the fires, and Kat’s at the camp surrounded by mines (thanks announcer people for explaining the one thing that didn’t really need much explanation at all, and would have been better if you shut the hell up, and let Foxface do her thing that explained it just fine—how’bout instead you explain the Girl Scout thing that keeps happening). So, booms happen, her ears ring for about a minute, no actual damage done (not half deaf or anything—that’d be silly apparently). And then Rue screams from somewhere, she’s barely trapped at all, and is release pretty easy, and then dude comes up and with Kat killing him in cold blood (not adrenaline induced because of him tormenting and killing Rue or anything… just, swish—whatever, not important for character or anything). And just because, the spear misses Kat and hits Rue… sort’of… it looked more like a flesh-wound instead of the spear going all the way through, but… yea, she’s dead now. She sang, did the flower bit, 11 freaked out (instead of sending her bread and feeling sorrow and adding to the reason for Chaff to help her later—but then that detail flopped on many levels anyway… since he didn’t even know anything happen to begin with—guess we weren’t supposed to notice that). Kat’s crying about Rue because they just met, and now because we decided to change the rules… the reason was because of 11 freaking out now… ‘cause, that will help. So Kat searches for Peeta, and finds him camoed (I actually did like the way they did that, the explanation still doesn’t make much sense, even from the book, but it does look cool). And then we really get into how much character definition was lost between them… “I’m not going to leave you!” “Why?” “I don’t know, they took all the reasons out of the movie, but I have nothing better to do!”

And so, we’re in the cave for like two seconds, she kisses him, get broth one second later (damn sponsors moved fast on that one, those horny bastards). And then another second later, there’s a feast announcement… the writers were clearly getting impatient in the story here, ‘cause they didn’t give a crap about any of the tension points that was going on in these scenes, which I find interesting because I’ve read a lot of writing advice articles that talk about the importance of building tension, and use this mess of scenes in the book as a prime example (about their fake love vs is it real love vs survival if we don’t at least make it seem real, etc)… all the more reason why taking it out might screw things up a bit.

So, Kat goes to the feast, struggles with psycho girl and psycho girl gets slapped around to death by giant black man (that we forgot to remind anyone still existed) because he’s like that (again, I didn’t really expect the head smashing in with a rock from the book, but still… the death didn’t even make sense). Kat get the magic goo, and we’re healed. So we go out hunting, and split up because it’s fun, and canon. “Peeta’s not answering! No, you ate the berries maybe (which we forgot to mention at all), and clearly this made you disappear too… oh’wait, there you are.” Turns out it was Foxface who stole the berries… silly Foxface, good thing Peeta forgot all about his concerns about the Games changing him (which he actually still mentioned earlier, surprisingly), or killing her might be an issue (by the way, anyone else notice that Peeta was the only one to mention her name as Foxface and not until after she died… it just seems kinda rude by this point).

So, insert dog things with even less reasoning than the book gave, and 11’s Hulk gets a canon, bringing us to the final showdown. Which is actually where toning down the violence actually kills it a little, ‘cause there would have been a tension moment in waiting all night for him to die, but nah, just swish… dog’s vanish, and nope, rules changed again because we’re not as worried about a riot as we thought we were, and then oh’no, not the berries… silly Katniss.

Games are over, and we bum-rush the ending, because we screwed up all the tension moments in the Games already, so it would be just damn embarrassing to put it all in now. And we’re done, no moments of anyone feeling traumatized or anything, roll credits, wonder what happened to Sting… I mean, somewhere in all that we also threw in scenes between the Game Maker and the President that made no sense, and served more to completely ruin everything that was going on, and the Game Maker was locked in with a bowl full of berries… silly Game Maker.

And, I think that covers it… I probably still missed points because there were so many to cover, but all in all, out of 5, I’ll give it 1 ½, most of that comes from the couple of scenes that actually played off well, and because I was impressed with the girl the chose for Foxface, out of everyone, she actually looked the most like what I saw when I read the book.

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