My expectations for the Hunger Games were extremely high and thus, I was inevitably disappointed with the film. I was impressed with how closely the film followed the book, but I felt that the characters’ relationships were too rushed and not completely developed, especially Peeta/Katniss, Katniss/Gale, and Katniss/Rue. Rue’s death in the books left me in tears, whereas in the movie, I wasn’t affected at all because we had only known Rue for a few minutes of onscreen time.
The mood didn’t feel heavy or desperate enough for the Games, like it felt in the books. The struggle to find water, to stay warm, etc. was emphasized so much in the books but Katniss never seemed that worn down in the arena in the film, and she always looked picture-perfect. The Careers were joking around and laughing together like friends, and when the found Katniss, they yell, “There she is! Let’s get her!” as if it’s a game of tag.
The lack of first person narration/inner monologue definitely took away from Katniss’s personalization. A lot of the drama with Peeta or psychological aspect of being in training was lost due to the style of narration. One aspect that the omniscient narration added to the story was our ability to see what was happening with President Snow, Seneca Crane, and the uprising in District 11. It was intriguing to see the process by which their decision-making and discussions resulted in the actions that impacted the tributes in the arena. The uprising in District 11 doesn’t actually happen in the books until the second one, Catching Fire, but it was placed well in the Hunger Games movie. It was almost as if the action of the rebellion was being sped up because in the books, we don’t know about the buildup of the rebellion due to the first person narration. Katniss doesn’t know, so the reader doesn’t know. However, since the film is omniscient and the action makes the film more exciting, the filmmakers went for it.
Although the romance isn’t what’s most important in the books, I can already tell they’re going to play up the Peeta/Katniss/Gale in the next movies. Especially with all of Gale’s sad, forlorn looks at the screen while the Hunger Games were on TV in District 12.
We don’t know enough about Peeta in the film, so in turn, he comes off as creepy. In the books, his interest in Katniss in the cave scene is played off as sweet, but in the movie when he says, “I watched you walk home from school every day,” it’s just stalker-esque and gives off an Edward Cullen-vibe.
However, the movie was suspenseful, entertaining, and well-casted. Much of the training center, Capitol, and District 12 were how I pictured them. Despite the minor details left out (Avoxes, Peeta’s leg, etc.), it seems that most fans of the book enjoyed the movie and I’ll be excited to see a “Catching Fire” adaptation!