Monday, March 26, 2012

my review of the hunger games movie

**this is only my opinion - for what it's worth. no one paid - or even ask me - for my opinion. i just feel compelled to share it.

I read the first book several years ago when it was assigned to Baby Jus at school. Because of his learning disability, we always read his novels together and discussed them at home. Usually he would read a page and then I would read a page - sometimes it could get very long and drawn out. Not the case with this book. We both loved it. And even caught Lovey listening in as we read and discussed it each night. Many times in our book discussions we would consider just how this or that part would be portrayed in a movie. We questions just how they would show the girl on fire and make it seem realistic. We argued which parts would be a must in the movie and which parts could be left out or altered. How would special effects teams construct a mutt? What did the people at the capital really look like? It was all discussed. We knew that a movie would eventually come. After reading books 2 & 3, we knew it would be sooner than later. And we knew that we would be forking over our money for a ticket during the first weekend. And we have been counting the days until the March 23 opening.

I have heard and read so much controversy about this movie.

Discussions about whether or not it is appropriate for children - people, it has a PG-13 rating (for intense thematic violent material and disturbing images -- all involving teens). If you are concerned about your 10 year old's reaction to such violence, then he/she probably isn't ready to see the movie - you'll easily be able to buy a your own copy in three years when he/she is mature enough to watch/discuss such violence. Do teens die in the movie? Yes, if you read the book you know this already. But honestly, the blood and gore factor is minute. The movie makers did a good job of allowing the audience a bit of the shock factor without grossing anyone out. I am not a gore-watcher, I don't do scary, I quit watching ER several seasons ago because there was so much blood on the show. That said, I expected a little more in this movie. Lovey and I both commented that we have seen much more blood and gore on network television dramas. I think the key here is that with any pre-teen or teen viewer - discussion is important. What better way to teach the value of life and the senselessness of killing? Honestly, it is difficult to watch the movie and not come out craving a good talk about what was just seen. Go see the movie with your kids and talk about it for days.

Another complaint that I have heard post-opening is it's not like the book - they left stuff out and changed some stuff. I honestly have to restrain myself from just going "DUH! Have you EVER read a book and then watched the movie?" The movie is never, ever, ever as good as the book. This movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes long - that's LONG. There is just no possible way to squeeze in every single detail of the book. And sometimes things have to change to fit the timeline. Spoiler Alert: I'm going to discuss a specific part of the movie here, if you don't want to read it, skip to the next paragraph. In the book, Katniss gets the mockingjay pin from a friend just before she leaves for the games. In the movie, the friend doesn't exist. She's not a significant character, but the pin is significant. And the script writers had to find a way to bring the pin into the movie and make it important, so Katniss gets it at the Hob, gives it to her sister with a promise that it will keep her safe, then her sister gives it back to Katniss when she volunteers as a tribute in Prim's place.

And this one blows me away - that's not what I thought they would look like? I have to say, when I first saw the trailers I thought the casting team had gotten Peeta and Gale backwards. But when I was watching the movie - it never crossed my mind. And I was absolutely blown away when I read this article tweeted by a friend. Was Cinna just what I had imagined? No, but not because he was black - I pictured him, being from the capital, as much more over-the-top. At the end of the movie, I was loving the Lenny Kravitz Cinna just as much as I had loved the Mer-version Cinna while reading the books. Again, I have to say, have you EVER read a book and then watched the movie? No matter how great the directors and producers are, it is rare that they can match the relationships that you have created and established in your head and heart while reading a great book.

And I'll stop with this one, it builds distrust and disrespect of the government. Distrust? It does make one question the motives of a government which tries to control its people. Disrespect? I don't think that's the right word. It can build an appreciation for freedoms that we take for granted. It may cause viewers to question some of the actions of a particular government. But isn't that what makes a great country? That we have a right to question and voice our opinions freely. This book and movie are great ways to introduce students to the idea of government for and by the people.

The controversial elements of this movie are exactly why teenagers SHOULD see it.1.) It makes viewers want to talk about what they have seen. 2.) It makes you think about the details from the book - I have heard many readers say that they needed to go back and re-read the book, or, like my nephew the non-reader, they want to read it for the first time. 3.) It may make us conscience of our prejudices. 4.) It may make us want to learn more about our government and the history of our country.


  1. I agree with the last part. my girls will be reading it this summer because I think the books bring up a lot of important questions about government control, loyalty, and bravery.

    1. yes. i love a book that makes students (and me) want to know more. and i love, love, love books that have girls who take care of themselves.