Last year, whilst in the midst of working with my occupational therapist having me do a zillion weighted stomach crunches, she asked me, "Have you read THE HUNGER GAMES?" I'd been hearing about THE HUNGER GAMES for quite some time at home. Yoko had read it and the following two novels in a wild voracious abandon that was frankly impressive. Her conversations with friends were constantly going into details they loved about the book.
From everything I heard, it was essentially a BATTLE ROYALE type situation of kids chosen to fight to the last boy or girl, but it was in a future that kept being described from the perspective of this main character of Katniss. When my OT described the novel she reiterated that what drove her to love the book was the perspective of living, surviving and dying in this future. Both of them bonded with her character, so I was curious to check it out.
I kind of fell in love with the book. I read it as a more complete universe than what I saw in the old Michael York LOGAN'S RUN... in the sense that there's this capitol in some post-apocalyptic universe that had a new civilization, devoid of our times' history and focused upon this one singular moment of history. THE HUNGER GAMES are made up of the 12 Districts, each of which provides a service to the Capitol. A young teenage boy and girl are chosen to fight to the last remaining survivor in a constructed environment filled with survival challenges, unseen game masters, and your fellow combatants, each trying to survive and when great rewards for their home districts. The Science Fiction aspects in the book are very well thought out. This is a completely new society. This is how they operate and it's all seen through the eyes of a young girl who trained herself to hunt and kill to support her family and community must represent District 12 and survive at all costs for her little sister's sake.
I love Katniss. She's a wonderfully strong female character. She does what must be done. At the same time, she wasn't an overt manish woman. She felt thoroughly feminine. I loved her thoughts behind her actions. They so complete the character.
I knew we were going to lose that depth to Katniss in the transition from Book to Film. Narration is one of the alleged cardinal sins of filmmaking... Which absolutely doesn't reflect my love of a well done narration. I love Katniss in the book, but on screen... as written and shown... I felt I never really got to know her. It wasn't just the memory of Peeta giving her the bread in the rain, it was how she said it. If narration was a problem, then bring Rue's character in earlier in the story and have Katniss share some of those thoughts with her. They're incredibly important thoughts - along with many others that needed to find a reason to be spoken to inform an audience, that come in clean to the franchise.
The film is a solid film. It just felt oddly pleasant and not nearly enough pain. My father felt it was overly mushy, and that thought alone disturbs me because in the book - you know that Katniss is playing to Peeta, but is in fact in love with Gale. In the film, you don't really get that. That's kind of important. Instead, we just see Gale as being jealous and Katniss not seeming to care. I'm not a fan of that change, Jennifer Lawrence has the unfortunate task of conveying the lie, but not really being given an opportunity for us to see the truth.
Not all the changes were bad though, the Dog Creatures thankfully no longer have the faces of the fallen upon them, like in the book. That was something I wasn't anticipating as going over well. Oddly, I found myself thinking... RUNNING MAN did it better... but then laughing and thinking... No, this is a far better film than RUNNING MAN, it's just not as fun.
Everything felt a tad sedate. The Capitol reminded me of one of those Star Trek utopian/there's something wrong/societies. Donald Sutherland's President Snow was a surprise for me. I have yet to read the 2nd and 3rd books and like the Therns in JOHN CARTER, I suppose Gary wanted to show Snow's influence to have a "villain" that is truly a potential nightmare inducer, and Sutherland easily fits that bill.
I felt the score and the cinematography and the production were all just a tad too clean, everything just a tad too perfect... from Peeta's laughable self camo, to every kill. To the way the kids look towards the end of the film being as clean and groomed from beginning to end.
What still works on the film is the premise and story, just not as well as in the book. Which is often a problem, but this film, I really wanted it to be several measures stronger than what I felt I got. Like I said, I love that first book, but just didn't care for the translation to the screen. It's alright, but that's all.