How The Hunger Games Disappointed, Excited, and Scared Me All at Once

For the past two months or so, I’ve been living and breathing The Hunger Games in my 10th grade English class. I’ve read it multiple times, discussed it, dissected it, decorated the walls with it, analyzed it, etc. I’ve read so many essays on Haymitch, the similarities and differences of Gale and Peeta, and the effect of the star-crossed lovers scenario on Katniss and the outcome of the Games.

So did I go to the midnight release of the movie adaptation? No.

I’d planned on it, even tried to buy tickets on numerous occasions. Each time, however, the stupid Internet kept failing and not processing the request. Then I realized I had a soccer game that night, and by the time I got home and showered (games make me feel nasty), there’s no way I’d make it or even be awake enough to enjoy it.

We went Saturday instead. SPOILERS BELOW

It was okay. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad, either. There were parts that I really enjoyed:
* The Tracker Jackers
* Seneca Crane’s beard
* The casting decisions (Jennifer Lawrence did a great job)
* The not-too-bloody,not-too-boring deaths (as much as I’d love an R rating with gory killings, PG-13 works for the story and the audience)
* The District 11 Riot
* Cato and Clove
* Getting to see Peeta’s interview
* Caesar Flickerman and his commentary
* Effie Trinket
* The music
* Seneca’s implied berry-suicide death

…and things I didn’t like:
* The Cornucopia – it looked like an ugly plane crashed in the middle of the field… where’s my Thanksgiving symbol of harvest and gratitude?
* The missing Thunderstorm/3 Days in a Cave
* Peeta didn’t seem too worse for the wear when Katniss found him in the stream… I thought he was supposed to be walking Death’s balance beam?
* The downplay of the romance – I get that they don’t want to make it Twilight where people actually die, but come on, I need more than one Katniss/Peeta kiss, especially when that kiss is interrupted by a morose Gale watching it on TV.
* The wolves.
* The Games seemed rushed. Katniss even made a comment about how the Gamemakers were trying to hurry up and end the Games, which is how I felt about the filmmakers.
* Did I miss the field where Thresh dwells? I didn’t see it in the Arena
* Peeta didn’t lose a leg
* Katniss and Peeta didn’t actually “eat” the berries. There’s no way the Capitol would have stopped them that soon.
* As much as I liked the cutaways to Seneca/President Snow/Haymitch, they took away from Katniss’s story and her survival, and made it more about the Reality TV aspect. While I get this also shows the negativity of the Capitol and their all-controlling totalitarianism, it gives away much of the conflict of the following books.
* The “Girl on Fire” parade outfits – the fire seemed really fake
* Rue and Marvel’s deaths – I imagined that net to be hanging from the air, not on the ground… and Katniss is a better shot than hitting him in the chest – she got him in the neck in the book.
* Katniss wasn’t on camera for Peeta’s confession, and the filmmakers made the whole thing seem a lot more contrived than in the book.
* Some of the deaths were skipped over or changed… Thresh doesn’t die by the wolves!
* Haymitch didn’t fall off the stage!

So yea, I may be a bit of a nitpicker… many of these are minor changes that were done to either enhance the story, tell it faster, or because they work better in a film medium, and I totally get it. The whole thing seemed really low budget, which is surprising considering the popularity of the series, but at the same time, Hollywood’s recent performance means playing it safe, budget-wise is sometimes the better option. Not every book-to-movie or tv show-to-movie adaptation does well, after all (Golden Compass and The Last Airbender, anyone?). Maybe this one will succeed well enough to up the budget for the next two movies, though.

I did enjoy the movie, don’t get me wrong. I almost cried during Rue’s farewell, and I jumped a bit when the wolf leaped out from behind the trees. I will buy the special edition bluray version when it comes out, and show it to all my students at the culmination of the Unit each year.

The boy also enjoyed it, or so he claims. I heard him curse when Rue died, he thought the Tracker Jackers were cool, and he argued with me over why Gale is better than Peeta. Apparently, Gale has a more “sculpted” look, whereas Peeta is just “cute,” therefore, Gale is more attractive. When I told him that he is a good mixture of the two, he almost got offended. Looks-wise, he’s more like Gale: tall, strong, “sculpted,” dark hair… but he also has the Peeta curls and the strong arms (he disagreed and said Peeta’s arms weren’t strong). Maybe I should have said he looks like Gale, but has the emotions of Peeta…

I finally had to stop his arguing and tell him “I’m trying to tell you that I’d rather have you than either of them, so just shut up and stop arguing.”

It worked. And the scary part is that it’s true. Scary because I’ve never felt that way about a boy before… happier with the person sitting next to me, fingers intertwined, than the eye candy gracing and romancing the fickle/love-struck/naïve/idiotic/etc girls on screen. I caught myself glancing at him during the movie and realizing that he’s more attractive than Peeta and Gale, and sitting next to me. On purpose.

May the odds be ever in my favor.

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