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Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Hunger Games

I went to see The Hunger Games last night. I should say straight off the bat that I've read the books, and that I don't intend to keep this review spoiler-free. There's no way I can talk about the film without talking about the books, or without giving things away. If that bothers you, then stop reading now.

The film is good - both as an adaptation of the book, and as a film in its own right. I'd go so far as to say that it's better than the book - and I'm not sure that I've ever used those words to describe a film. All of the performances are fantastic, and the romance angle between Katniss and Peeta that bothered me so much in the book works well on the screen. The violence of the Games is handled well - considering it's a 12A there isn't anything graphic going on here, but the camera work is fragmented and disorienting without descending into nausea-inducing shakycam, and it does a great job of portraying the brutality that is going on. And Rue's death was handled brilliantly.

Where the film shines is in the changes made to the book. Some things were cut, as always - characters were missing, the significance of the Mockingjay pin that plays an umportant role in the later books was altered, but I don't think it's anything all that important. The big changes were the things that were added in, and those were the things that made this film what it is.

And what were they? Backstory. The book has precious little of it, and when I read Catching Fire it felt like Collins had suddenly realised that we knew next to nothing about the world she had created - which led to about 250 pages of exposition and very little story, before the plot actually got moving. In contrast, the film shows us much more of the behind-the-scenes workings of both the Games and Panem itself. More importantly, we're shown the way Katniss' rebellion within the Games caused an uprising in District 11 - something which, if I recall correctly, the books don't tell us until Catching Fire, at which point those events are skimmed over despite how important they are to the overall trilogy.

When I finished the book, I debated whether or not to read the rest of the series; I'd enjoyed it, but not so much that I had to read on. Coming out of the film, though, I couldn't wait to see the next one - even knowing what happens next.

Go see it. Even if it's just for Woody Harrelson. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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