There are certain things that are extremely hard to do, and making a faithful book to film adaptation is one of them. With most movies you have one audience: people who want to see an an enjoyable movie. But with book to film adaptations, it isn’t that simple. Moviemakers have to somehow make a movie that can be enjoyable to anyone that wants to see it, yet have it be a movie that accurately portrays the book, especially in the minds of fans of the book.
The Hunger Games is the best book to film adaptation I have ever seen. I was skeptical going in, but it was far better then I ever expected it to be. I believe that is saying something, because unlike a lot of people, I didn’t like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It made me angry. When making a book to film adaptation, there will be some liberties that have to be taken. I understand that. But when things start getting changed unnecessarily, I won’t be happy. The Hunger Games avoided this completely.
If you haven’t read the book, go read the book right now. I’m serious, you can read it less than a day. It’s a very fast read. I highly recommend that you read it before seeing the movie. Ultimately it’s up to you, but I think you’ll enjoy it so much more after having read the book. If it helps persuade you at all, I’ll tell you this: I haven’t heard of anybody that has read the book and not loved it.
For those unaware of the story, The Hunger Games is set in a futuristic time in which some sort of tragic event has happened that has wiped out all memory of the past. Through the rubble raised a nation known as Panem, sitting on the land where North America once was. Panem is led by the Capitol who reign over 13 districts. This is until an uprising occurred 74 years previous in which the 13th district was destroyed as a sign of the Capitol’s power.
As a symbol of the Capitol’s power and the freedom that they gave the citizens of Panem, even after the uprising, the Capitol devised the Hunger Games as a means to show that freedom does come at a cost. Each district would have to present 2 tributes, one male and one female, ages 12-18, yearly to participate in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death tournament.
The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16 year old girl from District 12, the mining district. She is known for her skills as a hunter. She does everything she can to protect her family, and this includes making sure her 12-year-old sister Prim has as small a chance as possible of being selected to participate in the games. Prim’s name is only in the drawing once whereas Katniss’ name is in the twenty times.
Prim’s name is the name selected, and Katniss volunteers to take her place, the first time it has ever happened in District 12. Katniss is joined in the games by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the son of a baker.
The one thing that really stands out is the performances. There was much ado during casting time that they hired they cast the wrong people. Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence is such an incredible actress and I could never have imagined a more perfect Katniss. With the main character, that is just so impressive. Her acting chops are clearly out of this world. Josh Hutcherson is Peeta. And yes, Lenny Cravitz is Cinna (this one got much debate). The only casting I now have a problem with is Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. He just didn’t feel right, and that may be because his story line was underdeveloped. I would have liked to seen more of his story.
All in all, The Hunger Games is a great movie, and one that is very faithful to the book.
If I have to sum it up in one word, I’d have to go with perfect.
The Hunger Games Grade: A