Should I buy a ticket to THE HUNGER GAMES?

The Hunger Games movie posterMedia reports of a record-breaking $152.5 million box office last weekend for THE HUNGER GAMES indicate that the legions of fans of Suzanne Collins’s young adult sci-fi novel are thoroughly delighted with the movie adaptation, and are, by all accounts, already eagerly awaiting the announced sequel. According to Lionsgate Entertainment, a film adaptation of the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, “Catching Fire,” is scheduled for release on November 22, 2013.

Being totally unfamiliar with the books and somehow oblivious to the brouhaha surrounding the movie until assaulted by the intense media blitz previous to its premiere, I found myself in a bit of a quandary over whether or not I should see THE HUNGER GAMES (2012). After all, although I am a huge fan of both sci-fi and action-adventure films, I am certainly well past the due-by date of the desired teen audience demographic. Being (ahem) older does not usually stand in the way of my buying a ticket to the latest blockbuster on its opening day, but as I also hadn’t read Collins’s books and knew nothing of the story, I decided that a little research might be in order before I could decide.

The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

A cursory review of Wikipedia and movie review sites in general supplied me with the bare bones of the novel’s plot and enough background on the characters and themes to suggest that I might find the film at least interesting. Plus, with what I read in the national media, overall response to the film this week has been generally positive, with most critics praising Jennifer Lawrence (WINTER’S BONE, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) for her strong performance as heroine Katniss Everdeen. But none of these sources could tell me what I wanted to know, namely, would it be better to read the book before seeing the film? And, if so, would the visual effects in the film meet fan’s expectations as created by the novels?

Searching for some insight into this, I turned to Arthur Graves, the teenage son of a friend, who has both read the books and seen the movie. As a source far more informed than myself, and certainly more age-appropriate to the material, I felt that his thoughts might be helpful to me. His opinions of the film follow:

“If I had to say THE HUNGER GAMES was bad I couldn’t, it was amazing, both the book and movie. If I had to say five words about the movie it would be, “The book with extra scenes.” The movie was really close to the book, almost exact to every scene with a few added parts here and there. But to keep things short, I’m just going to mention one thing that I didn’t like and one thing that I loved about the movie.

The Hunger Games Cornucopia

The one bad thing about THE HUNGER GAMES wasn’t anywhere close to the beginning. In fact, it was the final scene in the Cornucopia, where the dead tributes were reincarnated to these mutated dogs meant to kill the living ones. In the book, Katniss noticed that one of the dogs had Rue’s eyes, and in the movie all you know is that some mutated dogs were sent out to finish off the remaining tributes. So, that was really disappointing.

The Hunger Games Trackerjackers

But one thing I loved about the movie was the scene of the Tracker Jackers (genetically-altered wasps coded to attack anyone or anything that disturbs their nest), the fact that they added a small scene of a comment about them. They did the “strong” hallucinations really well. When Peeta came you couldn’t tell who the real one until the three merged together, and even then they caused hallucinations so much that you couldn’t tell what was real at first, at least I couldn’t, but overall that scene was really well done.”

So, according to Arthur’s impressions, director Gary Ross (SEABISCUIT, PLEASANTVILLE) seems to have done a decent job in translating “The Hunger Games” to film. I gather that Arthur thinks I would enjoy it as well. And a hefty dose of VFX is always of interest to me! However, I suspect that, just as reading J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” previous to watching the movie gave me more of an appreciation for the series as a whole, I might gain a fuller experience if I actually read “The Hunger Games” before setting foot in a theater.

Now where did I put my library card?

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2 Responses to Should I buy a ticket to THE HUNGER GAMES?

  1. Tame says:

    My son recommended the first book to me and I ended up reading all three in less then a week and a half. The books are actually pretty fast reads with a great flow and a fast pace to the over-all story telling. I am told that the writer has a TV/screen writing background so I am sure that is why it felt very much like “reading” a movie. Since I am about the same “older” as you and I found that I enjoyed the diversion of these books quite alot I believe you will too 🙂 Might I recommend another book along the same “age market” that may find its way to the screen one day due to the nature of its time lines and future books – Michael Vey – The prisoner of cell 25. So far only the first book is out and its a set-up book and introduction to the character. it to is a nie easy read for a lazy Saturday

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