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Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Flicks: The Hunger Games

A weekly review of a book to movie adaptation. 

The Hunger Games was destined to be a blockbuster, from the moment the film began production. The novel, on which the film is based, was the kind of phenomenon of the level of Harry Potter and Twilight that would bring in a built in audience. But with the kind of fan devotion that the novel has, the movie also was tasked with meeting the high expectations of those who enjoyed the book. 

I'll admit, I was a bit hesitant to explore the whole Hunger Games craze. While I usually enjoy thrillers and adult literature, the novel had enough buzz to warrant my attention. I devoured the book in a day, and was convinced that there was definitely something to the story that I wouldn't mind seeing on film. 

The movie itself does an efficient, if not inspired, job of translating the novel to the screen. Jennifer Lawrence is the undeniable star as the strong willed Katniss. In the film, Katniss takes the place of her younger sister in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death between male and female tributes from each of the 12 districts of the dystopian world. Because of the limitations of the medium, we aren't given as much character development as the novel provided, but the actors do a fine job at trying to make each character fit into the world. 

In the novel, there was a subtle hint of political restlessness that gets mostly hidden by the big spectacle of the film. To be fair, there are a few moments where the filmmakers excel at providing deeper emotional insight, particularly during the death of one of the tributes. Unfortunately, the constraints of the film force the plot to move so quickly that most of these subtle moments get blown over. 

Overall, this a a perfectly fine adaptation of an above average novel. There were no egregious departures from the source material, so fans of the novels should be satisfied. Like the book, the ending is conclusive while still setting the foundation for the continuation of the story. If you haven't read the books or seen the movies, they are definitely worth the few hours they will take for you to experience them. Having experienced the novels and this first movie, I can understand the hype that surrounds the series, and look forward to seeing the adaptation of the second novel, Catching Fire, later this year. 

Have you read the novel or seen the movie? If so, what did you think of it? What book adaptations would you like to see as a future Friday Flicks post?

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