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Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012

Dave!I was pretty indifferent when I heard that they were making a movie from The Hunger Games books. Sure I liked the novel quite a lot, but I was in no hurry to see it in the theater. Maybe because I thought the second book wasn't as good... and the third book was disappointing... and I felt done with The Hunger Games.

But here it is, and I felt compelled to see it. I'll be vague and fairly spoiler-free, but if you really want to avoid any discussion of the film until you've seen it (or read the books), I'd skip down to my final "30 Days Drawing Challenge."

In summary... an enjoyable enough film, but a big step down from the book upon which it's based...

Hunger Games Movie Poster

In the future the US has collapsed, sea level has risen, the world has been reshaped, and civilization has been replaced with "Panem" a new nation divided into twelve districts. As punishment for having risen up against the government, each district holds an annual lottery where a boy and a girl are offered up as "tributes" in a battle to the death where only one shall survive.

Which sounds kind of familiar if you've read/seen Battle Royale, but whatever. The long and short of it is that the plot of both works is pretty fucked up, seeing as how young kids are going around killing each other.

Anyway... the tribute from District 12 is Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her young sister who "won" the Hunger Games lottery. She is offered up along with a guy who's a vague acquaintance from her past, and the game for survival is on. Death and destruction ensue.

The thing that made the book such a good read is that it regularly punches you in the gut as you made your way through the story. It's edgy, personal, disturbing, relentless, and violent. It has mad pacing and a plot that drives ahead like a sledgehammer. By comparison, the movie falls flat. Most of the events are there, but they've been smoothed out until they lack any sort of edge. The sense of danger never feels very high. The second half of the film where the action should be coming to a head was actually kind of boring. And, worst of all, it never felt very personal.

As expected with a film adaptation, stuff was changed and left out... some of it inexplicably so. But what really pissed me off was how they altered the ending. The filmmakers were clearly more interested in setting up a sequel rather than following the disheartening end-beat of the source novel. This sucks ass, because it completely sabotages the story and robs a major character of their emotional journey. It was a cheap trick and a lame way of trying to make a more "likable" finish.

As for the casting, I didn't think it was as bad as many Hunger Games fans felt it was. I thought Katniss and Peeta were well represented. I thought Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were great casting choices. Stanley Tucci gave a great performance for a character that didn't really have a great performance in it. Elizabeth Banks frickin' WAS Effie Trinket, even though the character had a chunk missing from her back-story. Cinematography didn't seem as epic as I would have thought, but the film didn't really suffer from it. Direction and editing were capable, if nothing exceptional... probably stemming from the watered-down PG-13 script.

Ultimately, I recommend the book, and half-heartedly recommend the film if you've read the book. I don't recommend the movie if you haven't read the book, as it's missing too much to really hold up on its own (so read the book first!).

And... it's all downhill from here. The second book has some interesting stuff to draw from, but I don't think the third (and final) novel will adapt well at all. But, given the amount of money this flick has been making, that's not going to stop anybody from trying.


30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Congrats Banner for Finishing...

Bad Monkey and Lil' Dave say

Well that wasn't quite the big bucket of fun that I thought it would be... I guess I probably shouldn't start stuff like this when I have a vacation in the middle. Oh well. It gave me something to blog about a few times when I didn't have anything to blog about, so there you have it.

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Categories: DaveToons 2012, Movies 2012Click To It: Permalink


  1. Kyra Wilson says:

    I thought that the three books linked well and wasn’t disappointed in the third, but then again, they’re not my favorite books either. They ARE my daughter’s favorite, although she doesn’t seem to know why that is. As for the movie, I think it’s as much as you can expect, given that it’s about kids killing each other and a blood thirsty society that loves it, in our society with a line around children that you do not cross.

    I’ve had this discussion with people frequently as of late, most likely due to the books, about how you just don’t hurt kids. You don’t. Even criminals in the prisons have a hierarchy leveled against anyone who has hurt children, because it’s one of the unforgiveables. But here in this book is a society that revels in it, and putting that on screen – kids killing kids for kids, well they probably did the only thing they could, given the societal circumstances we have.

    I heard one person say that it’s a societal boundary that will just need to be pushed, and gotten used to – kind of like cussing and violence on TV in the 1960’s compared to what’s allowed now. But the thing is, I think that’s the whole point; you don’t want to get used to it, you want people to still be shocked and horrified.

    It wasn’t like the book, I agree. I didn’t think it was bad though, and still rather enjoyed it – all except the MORONIC director deciding that shooting against people’s faces, and shaking the camera as much as possible was a good idea. Of course, we saw it on an IMAX – but seriously, I wanted to smack the crap out of him for that.

  2. Sybil Law says:

    The movie bothered me mostly because yes – if you didn’t read the book, you’d be completely confused. Also, the inexplicable changes that made no difference, or for the stuff they could’ve kept in that wouldn’t have added more time… So odd.
    I thought the books were okay – not the best ever, but Gilda liked them, so I’m happy we could share it and see the movie together.

  3. My daughter absolutely LOVED the movie. She voraciously read through all the books and is salivating for the next movie to come out. I had read none of the book, but found the movie passable. Having to watch it in a theater full of Gamers at 12:01am on the night of it’s release was what made me want to blow my brains out! (I had made a promise to eldest I would take her. I keep my promises, no matter what!)

    I wonder what a Blondefabulous would look like in Bad Monkey’s world?

  4. claire says:

    Congrats on finishing the 30 Day Drawing Challenge! It sounded tempting when you first started, but I knew I had stuff coming up and didn’t want it to feel like a chore. Also there were a few things on the list I didn’t want to draw so that kind of put the nail in the coffin. Perhaps another time…

  5. i gotta disagree…i had not read the book before the movie and i was glad. personally, i would have been disappointed by reading the book first. my imagination is better than any movie, regardless of how great special effects are or who directs the flick, etc. i didn’t feel that i walked out of the movie with questions. of course i liked the book better, i am just glad i saw the movie first.

  6. Megan says:

    I saw the movie yesterday, although I’ve never read the book. I never had any desire to do either, but my son wanted to, and he deserved a treat for an amazing report card, so we went. With zero desire to see it and no expectations, I thought it was entertaining. I will admit that I never once felt like Katness would lose, so that meant something was lost. Perhaps I should read the book now to get a fuller picture.

    • Ren says:

      I don’t think the book ever gives a sense that she’ll lose either. What the book does have is a bunch of internal dialog expressing her doubt, lack of confidence, distrust of Peeta’s motives, etc. In the movie, this was replaced by scenes outside of her perception, and I thought adequately so. Still, it changes her character quite a bit.

  7. martymankins says:

    I will take you up on your recommendation and read the book before seeing the movie.

  8. kapgar says:

    I’d like to ask why you didn’t like the third book and you can tell me in email. Care to share? Yes, I did read all three.

  9. the muskrat says:

    Deb had a good review of the film that was similar (though she didn’t like the casting all that much). She read each book twice before seeing the film; I read none of the books and needed her to explain a lot to me. Of course, that could be because of my lack of mental prowess, not the filmmaking.

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