Book-to-movie adaptations are tricky little buggers. Fans of the books are usually die-hard purists who analyze and overanalyze casting choices, and producers almost always change something in order to make the movie popular to those who haven’t read the books.
I am 100 percent guilty of taking a severely purist stance on all book-to-movie adaptations. If the book was good enough to warrant a movie contract, why should things be changed? I hated that Winky was entirely cut out of the “Harry Potter” movies, and that the giant squid from “Watchmen” was replaced by some sort of nuclear bomb in the movie — WTF, right?
When “The Hunger Games” books became a sensation, I hopped on the bandwagon faster than you could say “Katniss.” My life felt empty and without purpose with the “Harry Potter” books finished and with the movies almost complete, and “The Hunger Games” filled that void.
I took to the series with a dogged dedication, reading message boards daily, pontificating about the outcome of the final book and deciding whether or not I was Team Gale or Team Peeta (Gale, by the way).
When the news broke that they would be making “The Hunger Games” into movies, my initial excitement overshadowed my puritanical obsession with keeping to the books. Then the casting choices began to leak.
The dark, thin and scowling Katniss Everdeen was going to be played by voluptuous blonde bombshell Jennifer Lawrence. Stocky Peeta Mellark was going to be played by a short scrawny child star named Josh Hutcherson. Myself and millions of Hunger Heads grew nervous … at least until after they made some spot-on casting decisions with Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz. Things were looking up.
“The Hunger Games’” opening weekend was the third-best opening weekend ever — and strongest ever by a non-sequel — behind only “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” and “The Dark Knight.” It is, to say the least, a massive success, and is probably going to dethrone the Mormon propaganda series, “Twilight.”
There is a God.
But from the mind of a super fan, just how good — or bad — was “The Hunger Games” movie?
It was certainly entertaining. I cried when I should have cried and laughed when I should have laughed, and I found myself reacting audibly to key scenes, slapping my hands on my lap in anticipation, gasping, shielding my eyes.
The acting was almost universally fantastic: Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are both shining young actors and Stanley Tucci blew me away (though Liam Hemsworth actively sucks). Some of the CG was laughable, at best, which made me more than a little bit angry considering just how good the special effects are in the “Harry Potter” series.
The plot changes, while a necessary evil of book-to-movie adaptations, still drove me nuts. Yes, Suzanne Collins did help write the screenplay, so any changes had to go through her, but the addition of previously non-existent scenes made me more than a little bit angry.
Anybody who has read the books knows the overwhelming frustration I felt when I saw Katniss buy the mockingjay pin at the Hob instead of getting it as a gift from the mayor’s daughter, Madge, who wasn’t even in the movie. Don’t change stuff like that, it’s sacred!
Overall, the movie was an entertaining, interesting adaptation of the books. I say adaptation because it was just that: Changes were made that were probably necessary, considering the nature of Katniss’ first-person narration in the books.
While I resist those changes — because I would have no problem sitting down and watching a four-hour-long “Hunger Games” movie — I understand their necessity now. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
This “Hunger Games” purist has given the movie her blessing.