Watching a film based on a novel is always a tricky thing. If you’ve read the book and liked it, chances are you’re not really going to appreciate the film quite as much. Details get switched around, the heart-throbbing hero might look like a pale accountant and the land of your imagination will be ruined forever. Was I enthusiastic about the Hunger Games book series? You betcha. I even wrote a blog post on the first installment (check it out on my old blog www.thedochblog.blogspot.com) raving about how I had gotten completely lost in the world of Panem and bitten my nails all through the breathtaking fights in the arena. I’m the kind of fan the filmmakers of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and others like them are afraid of. I get aggravated when details are changed and especially when the characters come across differently on the big screen.
Going into the cinema and watching the film I constantly thought about which angle I wanted to view this from. In the end, the sheer joy of watching, of being entertained and forgetting where I had entered this world half an hour ago won over and I let myself enjoy this colossus of a motion picture. The amount of money such a fantastic and intricately designed illusion of a dystopian regime with the diametrically opposed different districts of Panem must have cost. The explosion of colors and the exotic design of the hedonist Capitol was surely something. Visually, The Hunger Games definitely blew my mind. Between fast and shaky camera-work in the action scenes and gorgeously accentuated bird-eye shots of mass scenes and scenery, the eye of the viewer was constantly pushed to the limit of perceptibility. As far as the adaption of the story goes, I think that the director Gary Ross managed to steer clear of the most obvious mistakes: He neither left out the fighting and the gore, nor did he make the fight for survival in the arena too much of a throat-slitting blood-fest. (I must add that my boyfriend disagrees, apparently in his mind, there was a butcher’s dream going on).
After all this praise, obviously, some things didn’t work out. While Jennifer Lawrence was a beacon in terms of her talent and expressiveness, the other characters felt downright flat. Nobody made much of an impression (although Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was lovely with his golden eyeliner) and even glorious Donald Sutherland seemed slightly too benign for a sort of fascist dictator. Lawrence though, she belongs in the woods. She is best when she’s all alone, fending for herself, suppressing all emotions in order to get through what she needs to do to protect her family (see our tba-article on Winter’s Bone).
To give you sound advice: Go see The Hunger Games. Unless you expect something other than an action-packed and intense ride through a Richard Bachmann scenario (by the way, go read “Running Man” and “The Long Walk” and you’ll see where writer Suzanne Collins got her inspiration from), you will definitely enjoy yourself. If you’re indie and/or have a thing for tough girls in the woods, also watch “Winter’s Bone”. It’s actually quite a relief to see that after “Twilight”, people are now obsessively “fan-girling” over a strong-willed fighter persona instead of a lovesick and utterly useless and passive bimbo (pardon my French).
P.S. People are stupid and do quite some oooh- and aaaah-ing in potentially “romantic” scenes or when Liam Hemsworth appears in the frame. Be warned and try not to fight any of your fellow audience members to the death.