Written By: Michelle
Hell hath no fury like a fandom scorned. It’s always a little tumultuous when the author of a beloved book series announces the release of a film adaptation. There is a strange mix of excitement, dread, and terrifying intense passion for justice. I personally know the feeling all too well, It was the same one that I got when I realized I would finally be seeing the boy who lived with my own eyes.
I was immediately filled with fear when I learned that they would be adapting Suzanne Collin’s iconic trilogy into films. Countless other books have been adapted over the years with terrible results. Novels such as The Golden Compass and The City of Ember, both first volumes in a series, were halted after the first installments.
I felt like a parent, consumed with an Earth-shattering worry for one of my favorite series. I patiently waited, watched the teaser trailers with a careful eye, and read the first reviews as soon as they were printed. With the amount of money it was bringing in and the mostly fantastic reviews, I felt that I had nothing to fear.
The big night finally came, and oh had I been counting down the days until I was going to watch it, filled to the brim with excitement I wandered into the theater and carefully picked out the best seats available. I settled in as the movie started and my journey of The Hunger Games began. The hours went by and I was still waiting for a big “ohhh” moment to happen, sadly for me, that moment never came.
The Hunger Games for me was an adequate adaptation of the book; fans bragged how it stayed completely faithful to the book, a quality I failed to see, and critics praised it for strong performances and a thrilling pace. I didn’t feel the fire behind it, especially not the same reaction I had after reading the book, it just missed the mark completely.
It was Katniss’ emotions, the danger and life changing effect of the Games, the political machinations, and the budding romance between Katniss and fellow District 12 Tribute, Peeta, which really made the book sizzle. While all the important scenes were present, the film felt a lot like it was just trying to get through a checklist of milestones. It never lingered long enough on anything for us to see the details of the world and truly let emotions sink in. It also left a lot of blanks that other those who have read the book could fill in.
My biggest pet peeve was the fact that Haymitch’s character was so glossed over. For me, he is important in the book to the success and survival of the tributes. He was portrayed well in the first scene featuring him but past that point it seemed like he was just a curtain in the background. Not really advancing his character or really capturing the spirit of the Haymitch from the book. Now, I want it to be clear that I don’t think Woody Harrelson did a bad job, I think that he did the best he could with what he was given to work with.
There were some redeeming qualities to the film though, and I want to go over those celebrations as I feel it is important to note what, for me, made the movie watchable. First up, Jennifer Lawrence played a very believable Katniss. I feel like she connected with the audience in the movie more than Katniss in the book was able to do. It took a little while for her to get into the role, there was almost no really moving emotion from her until after she is on her way to the Capitol, but once she does it goes over well. Katniss in the book, well let’s be honest is kind of a bitch. I didn’t feel that sense of angst as much in the movie. I do have to say I was disappointed in the lack of emotion I had when Katniss volunteered to save Prim, I thought that it would be a more moving moment.
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket was played really well, she was right on the money. I feel like she took her character and really rolled with it. For me, it was like she stepped out of the pages of the book and strolled right onto the big screen. Her attitude, speech, personality, clothing, makeup, sense of entitlement, it was all there and I really enjoyed watching her bring that character to life.
Lastly, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. He was absolutely brilliant. Perfect for the role, he played that character to a T and was by far my favorite to watch. He engaged the audience with his over exuberance and charm. Played just as wonderful as the character in the books he was the highlight of the film. I would even watch it again just to see his scenes. Stanley is an amazing actor and just like his other roles, he doesn’t fall short in this film.
While I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I was hoping for, I know that many fans really loved it. Overall, I don’t think that there is too much backlash and it is raking in the dough. The sequel has already been green lit, and because that’s the kind of fan I am, I am sure that I will go and see it regardless of how I feel about the first. So for now, The Hunger Games fandom is buzzing, and the studio is saved from the wrath of unhappy fans.