Battle Royale > The Hunger Games (Book) > The Hunger Games (Film)


If you feel the need to see a bunch of teenagers slaughtering each other in an organized contest, then watch renowned Japanese director Kinji Fukasaka's stylized and beautifully ludicrous Battle Royale rather than The Hunger Games-- an ersatz version if I've ever seen one; while Battle Royale whips through plot-arcs and violence effortlessly, elegantly and humorously characterizing the teenagers before they are killed in beautifully graphic scenes of blood and mayhem, The Hunger Games stays very close to its main subjects-- Katniss and Peeta-- much of the camera-work is done in the faux-documentary Blair Witch-style . . . but the film ignores what the book did well: the deft characterization of the other tributes-- most notably the fox-faced girl; it ignores the survival aspects of both living in District 12 and living in The Hunger Games arena . . . the hunting, gathering, camping, and sleeping in trees, and it glosses over the tactics and strategy the game-- including the best sub-plot of all: whether Peeta really loves Katniss and vice-versa, or if the romance is only a strategy to gain sponsorship . . . also annoying: the kids always look fresh-faced, made-up and coiffed, even deep into the games . . . after Katniss sleeps on a pile of leaves for two days, comatose because she was stung by poisonous wasps, she awakes scrubbed and clean, looking like she just got a facial, and her caretaker, Rue, looks the same-- no mud and grit and dirt-- even when Rue dies, she is cute and unblemished . . .  and I should also warn you that the acting and the dialogue are both extremely cheesy . . . but I shouldn't complain, the movie is for teenagers, not adults, and I watched it just so I could have something in common culturally with my students (who are going to stick me with a pair of scissors when I give them my review, but even if the movie is for teens, it shouldn't defy physics . . . how can you outrun those "muttation" dogs in a straight race, and there is no attempt to explain them-- unlike the book, in which they are genetically created from each dead competitor and resemble their human counterpart . . . in the movie, a lady generates one on a 3-D computer screen and then the creation instantly springs from the earth, fully formed and alive, and I would think if this miraculous technology existed then the Capitol Panem would have no use for fish and coal and whatever else they get from the 12 districts, as they would be gods that could create anything from nothing and I'm very disappointed that Roger Ebert gave this poor excuse of a movie three stars-- although most critics were in his camp-- but there are a few voices of reason on Rotten Tomatoes that noticed the many shortcomings of the film, especially David Denby, and I'm glad for that, because if my wife and Denby hadn't agreed that the movie sucked, then I might have doubted my sanity).

6 comments:

Igor said...

Characterization, backstory, and thorough explanation are almost always the elements of a book left behind when transferred to film. Even The Shining, which Kubrick made one of the most truly terrifying cinematic creations out of (and gave me nightmares), couldn't approach the level of bone-chilling detail, explanation of paranormal activity, and contextual understanding for characters both major and bit that came through in King's book.

This, however, sounds like they didn't even try.

Dave said...

of course-- but i'm working on my list of movies that are better than the book . . . when the book is good-- but this one almost deliberately skipped the good stuff in order to show repeated scenes of stanley tucci with blue hair.

Dave said...

of course-- but i'm working on my list of movies that are better than the book . . . when the book is good-- but this one almost deliberately skipped the good stuff in order to show repeated scenes of stanley tucci with blue hair.

zman said...

I read the first book and I'm almost done with the second. The author seems to be allergic to compound sentences. The interstitial stuff where the main character tries to explain her motivations is not very good, but the action sequences are fun.

zman said...

To Igor's point -- I think it's hard to take a book that's hundreds of pages long and distill it down to 120 or even 180 minutes of film. This might be why Game of Thrones is so good. HBO has close to 13 hours to spell out each book.

Dave said...

true-- but those are BIG books-- the writers are doing a great job selecting important scenes, and everyone looks perfect.

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.