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Reviews Comments: Liked it better than the book The Hunger Games film/book review by Defbye

Slight spoilers.

Like the title says, I generally liked to movie better than the novel. Two things that bugged me about the book was a) how exposition heavy it was, and b) Katnissí rather prevalent Protagonist Centered Morality.

So in the movie, instead of having to read several (slightly unnecessary) pages about how Katnissí dress or hair or food looks like, I can just watch it. Easy. Some scenes have also been shortened, such as the rather long and boring cave scene with Peeta, and a lot of pre-game material. Also, I donít actually have to hear Katnissís thoughts here, which I thought was an improvement.

I do think they could have used this opportunity to develop the other tributes just a bit more in order to actually make me care for the faceless/unnamed kids that just got killed. Still, the movie, like the novel, is mainly tied to Katnissí perspective so I suppose it makes sense. I did however like that they added a slight Not So Different approach to some of the tributes (such as Foxface and even Cato). The book was rather: Career = Complete Monster, which I thought was oversimplifying matters.

Some things I missed from the books was the explanation of the mockingjay and the fact that Peeta came off a rather shallow, not just as a love interest (which is pretty much the point of their relationship, itís an act) but as a character. Even Rue left a much stronger impression on me.

I still find it quite implausible that the games have lasted for 75 years without any major rebellions, especially with the Capitol being so Obviously Evil and all, but hey, itís fiction.

All in all, itís a good movie, based on a good novel. Not the best Iíve seen this year, and definitely not the worst. Iíll be waiting for the sequel(s).

(If you find any spelling/grammar fail, do tell).


  • JobanGrayskull
  • 4th Apr 12
Good review. Your appraisal of the merits of both media are pretty solid. I personally preferred the book for pretty much the same reasons you preferred the movie.

The Katniss POV left some things shady that were more explicitly delivered in the movie, and while necessary for the movie to make sense, they sort of take away from the second book/movie. (I think it's pretty safe to say they will continue the movie franchise.) Granted, often Katniss' internal monologues were grating and annoying in the book, but they felt real and honest to me (not that I've ever been a teenage girl growing up with a dysfunctional widowed mother in a dystopian wasteland...)

I also loved the movie portrayal of Haymitch and Effie, because they were both a little more sympathetic and complemented the book versions well.
  • TheGovernment
  • 4th Apr 12
Well, for one thing, I think you mean "definitely" not defiantly, but that's all cool. I agree, I especially liked the ascended characters of all of the people who control the game, such as Caesar Flickermann, Seneca Crane and President Snow, making a better allusion to the reality TV of today.
  • Defbye
  • 5th Apr 12
@JobanGrayskull: Hmm... I always felt that I would have liked Katnissí POV a bit more if I had felt that the author deliberately made her morally ambiguous. As things are now however, I feel as if sheís a bit forced down my throat as being the right and good one that I'm supposed to agree and sympathize with.

The part where she calls the Careers Complete Monsters for wanting to kill her and then doing the same thing herself three pages later would be fine, if someone would call her on it or if she would think ďNow Iím starting to sound just like themĒ or something similar, but nothing like that ever happens (IIRC). Otherwise, I think Katniss is a good and strong character but I just have trouble sympathizing much with her, as I personally find her quite hypocritical.

I liked Haymitch in this movie, but didnít really feel much for Effie, as she barely had any screen time. Maybe the sequel will rectify that.

@TheGovernment: Thank you. I fixed it.

I found those characters rather intriguing, but they were made frustratingly smug (well not Caesar I suppose). It was like the movie creators thought ďWe better make these characters Obviously Evil or Smug Snakes so the audience will know who to root for, because they are morons.Ē

Oh and thank you for reviewing my review!

  • JobanGrayskull
  • 6th Apr 12
Oh, I didn't really like or relate to or agree with Katniss that much. I think she does get hypocritical quite often (and characters do eventually call her on that later in the series). I just thought she seemed like a realistic person, and the fact that I only saw her brain accounts for why it seems like she's the right and good one; from her perspective, that's true.
  • Defbye
  • 9th Apr 12
Ah, well I didnít finish Mockingjay and I sort of rushed trough certain parts of Catching fire so I probably missed those parts. Still itís nice to know they are there at least.

And I suppose you are right about it being true to her. The only problem I have with this is that I personally feel that the author herself agrees with everything Katniss does. I have no problem with a Villain Protagonist, itís a Designated Hero I donít like.

Then again, that might just be me overthinking it.
  • emeriin
  • 9th Apr 12
I don't get all this Designated Hero stuff. I read the books for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I saw a fuckload of self-hate for what she had to do.
  • Defbye
  • 9th Apr 12
Well I admit that calling her a Designated Hero might be too much. And I probably sound more negative towards her than I actually am. I generally like Katniss, I just donít find her that sympathetic in the novel (I liked her better here in the movie).

I find her very flawed and while a flawed character is usually a good thing, in this work I personally get the feeling that weíre supposed to agree with Katniss and her actions, which is the reason Iím a bit iffy. She seemed a bit too eager to kill some of the other tributes...

But like I said before, itís been a few years since I read Hunger Games and I sort of rushed through the second, and didnít finish the third so I probably missed or forgot the What The Hell Hero or My God What Have I Done moments there are. Still, by reading your comments they do seem to be there at least.

Anyway, thanks for commenting. Itís always interesting to see other peopleís perspective on things.

  • piearty
  • 12th Apr 12
I was irritated the mockingjay was left unexplained but I came across a justification: most of the info dumps come from Capitol people like Ceasar; why would they point out or explain one of their embarassing failures? I wish the writers could've found some other way to do it but that kept me a bit placated.
  • OccasionalDragon
  • 11th Jul 12
I thought the movie was okay, but it was certainly not better than the book, in my opinion. For one thing, in the book, Peeta actually had a personality, while in the movie, it seemed like he was just there to be babied and kiss Katniss. I actually wish the cave scene had a been a bit longer—true, it wasn't the most eventful of scenes, but they could have developed Peeta a little more.

Secondly, the mockingjay pin. I happen to be a crazy canon-obsessed freakazoid, so you may disagree with me on this, but I really wish they'd left Madge in the movie.

Another thing I didn't like was (don't hate) Rue's death. Don't get me wrong, I cried, but I think it could have been better. Firstly, Rue should not have pulled the spear out of her stomach—I think she would have been in too much pain, since stomach wounds of any sort are incredibly painful. Also, pulling the spear out would have made her bleed out much faster, i. e., not time for her little speech near the end.

And lastly, the muttations. Can't complain about the tracker jackers, and the mockingjays were okay, but I was a little disappointed when I saw the dog things. In the book, part of what made them so horrifying was their resemblance to the dead tributes. In the movie, they were just ugly and scary.

Don't think I didn't enjoy the movie, though. Haymitch was awesome, Cinna was awesome, and Effie was hilarious. Also, the kid-on-kid fighting was intense and bloodless enough to keep the rating at PG-13, but it wasn't really downplayed or less stressed. Children fighting to the death IS really messed up. All in all, a great movie, but not overall superior to the book in my opinion.
  • OccasionalDragon
  • 11th Jul 12
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 11th Jul 12
I don't get why you felt there was protagonist centred morality. The book went to great lengths to show that Katniss wasn't a good person. They make it clear that Rue is a good person, that Prim is a good person and that they're so good, that the best thing irredeemably (because she wasn't born a good person, rather than any one act) not good Katniss can do is save them.

And then they stress repeatedly the Peeta is better than Katniss. It was Peeta who reached out to Katniss when she was dying, it was Peeta throughout the whole games who was sacrificing himself for Katniss, it was Peeta who didn't want the arena to change him. Katniss? She would kill and do what it took to survive, she wasn't bad, she wasn't good, her character was the neutral person who had done too much to deserve peace and was strong enough to survive, but not strong enough to die right.

I mean at the end of the book Katniss is ready to kill Peeta, whilst he tries to commit suicide to save her. Maybe you mean something slightly different because in morality in the first book, Katniss is explicility paralleled with Haymish, who isn't a man of all virtue. Maybe you mean you resent how much plot revolves around Katniss? How she's the special one? Because I could see how that could be annoying

But Katniss' role is as the guardian of good, not good itself. She's like the Agent in Serenity who kills to protect what he believes in, but knows he's to impure for a place in that world himself. I'm not sure if you've read the third book, but if you have remember that at the end, when stuff happens Katniss says that Gale is like herself
  • Defbye
  • 16th Jul 12
It's been a while since I read the book (and watched the film), so excuse any memory lapses of mine.

I donít know, Iím not sure why, but the morality in these novels has always bugged me for some reason I canít completely pin-point. Maybe not Protagonist Centered Morality but... something does not work for me.

It just feels very convenient that all the other tributes Katniss kills are all complete monsters, and the few allies she gets are saints (this gets better in the second book though). Sort of like having a black and white morality where there shouldnít be one. And then there is Katniss herself who is very morally gray indeed, but looked up by so many and praised by so many and her very presence spurs an entire District to rebel against the evil Capitol.

If Katniss had just stopped for a second and thought If I Kill Him I Will Be Just Like Him or had a My God What Have I Done moment, maybe it would have been different for me. But as things are now Katniss (or the reader) has no real reason to feel bad about those people she kills because they have all been portrayed as irredeemably evil. Yes, they are children and yes it's wrong, but Kato and Clove are potrayed as sociopaths so there really is no reason to feel so sorry for them, beacuse the novel doesn't bother to give one. They are just evil, plain and simple. And Peeta and Rue is just good and pure and they choose to side with Katniss.

I think the problem for me is that the novel is written entirely from Katnissí perspective in first person. Itís a very limited perspective and all we have are one personís very subjective thoughts. If the narrating character does something bad and itís not commented upon, is it because the character herself doesnít understand she did something bad, or because the author truly doesnít see anything wrong with the characters actions?

If it had been written from a third person perspective, or if we had seen other characters thoughts, maybe if the Capitol had not been so damn EVIL, this might not have bugged me so much. Again, I canít really say.

Note: I have only read the first two novels as I couldnít bring myself to finish the third book (mainly because of lacking interest).

  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 17th Jul 12
You are missing one very cool thing that happens towards the end of the third book and I don't know if you got to the point where the signals were clear but there was an important point about Coin (and about Gale), if you don't feel like reading it, it might be worth wikipediaing it, or in fact I'll type it out in spoiler which you can choose to look at or not. (I'll do it in the next post because we can't edit and I want to make sure I'm not going to screw up on the spoiler formating.

I can kinda see where you're coming from, sort of, but the problem is that there's pretty much no human behaviour in the Hunger Games that hasn't been observed lots of time throughout humanity, at all times with all people. It feels wrong, and maybe Obviously Evil, but in the last 70 years we have seen 4+ countries do this or worse. There's nothing about Snow that doesn't fit in with the countless dictators we've had and have in the world today. Look at the situation in Syria, happening right now as I type, is that any different from the events of the third book (except for the sci-fi weaponry :D ). Equally the Capitol's people are identical to a German populace of good normal people who willingly ignored and supported a suppression of 6 million co-citizens. We've had buddhist monks burn themselves alive on TV and not seen the populaces come to their aid.

The truth is most of us are Katniss' and Gales, we all know Peeta's, a lucky few of us and quite a few parents/elder siblings get to know a Rue or Prim and their will always be Cato's, I can't remember if the books did anything like the stuff that the film did with Cato. I'm not sure if it's not uncomfortable because it's a very harsh feeling morality but it really is the truth that we all experience. In his retrospective of The Dark Knight Captain Logan said that he didn't know if it wasn't the scariest thing about it that maybe the Joker was right and that most of us are only good because we are comfortable and not forced into situations where it can be tested.

Anyway Testing
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 17th Jul 12
So SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER, if you are reading the books, do not look at this. If you've stopped reading them and don't think you will but aren't set against it and might, don't highlight because there is no point reading the third book if you read this stuff and it will stop you getting any value from it

Coin is as much of a dictator and evil as Snow. Katniss is told to execute Snow and kills Coin instead, she spends the rest of her life with PTSD. Gale designs a bomb to maximise casulties and it gets used and kills Prim in front of Katniss, Katniss says she can't be with Gale because he's too much like her, on fire. People get burnt because of them. When the heroes win the day it's suggested they should have one last Hunger Games with the Capitols children instead of their own and half of them vote for it

I think the point is, Katniss doesn't stop and think If I Kill Him I Would Be Like Them, because Katniss knows that she is like them, and she ignores it because she's a survivor and to survive she blocks out the reality of who she is. A reason why she never let Peeta get close to her in the start up to the first Hunger Games.
  • Defbye
  • 23rd Jul 12
Sorry for the late reply, but I'm terribly busy at the moment. Those spoilers sound very interesting indeed... And it does change a few thingsÖ

As for real life comparisons, it has been discussed on the headscratchers page. What the Capitol did was execute children in front of their parents on live television. Every year for 75 years they did that and there were still no rebellions until Katniss stepped in. Neither Syria or Nazi Germany broadcasted on live television to the world that they were massacring children, which is what the Capitol is doing.

In the book, Cato is a pure Complete Monster, in the movie they at least give him a borderline Freudian Excuse (hence the reason I liked the movie better). I suppose that Katniss is a realistic character, though that doesnít necessarily make her that likable (for me, that is). I personally never liked Katniss (or Peeta for that matter) in the books so much, although I liked Katniss far more in the movie version. I like to draw a comparasion to Bella Swan from Twilight, a rather unlikable, self-centered and wagsty teenager. Now, is it realistic to be selfish and wangsty when you are 17? Well, yeah (even if we would never admit it ourselves). Does it make her a sympathetic and compelling character? No, not really.

As for The Dark Knight... Wasnít the point of the ending that the Joker was wrong? In the end, the people on the boats are forced into a situation to either kill the other or be killed themselves and they donít take it. Not the ďgood, upstanding citizensĒ or the criminals, thus subverting Jokerís assessment that people will kill others to save themselves. The people on the boats had nothing to gain from not pushing the button, but neither did it (though it was pretty close).

  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 23rd Jul 12
That's right, but it doesn't mean you necessarily agree that that would be how it actually would go down. We have stuff like the Prison experiment to show it often happens the otherway.

As to the people rebelling, well look at the concentration camps then, that was children being killed directly in front of their parents, no hope, no chance of winning and more personal than on TV and yet how many people let themselves be walked to their death? Why was there ever a single prisoner who didn't force them put a bullet through their head before they let would let themselves to be dragged off to a certain death? In Russia when parents relations and friends were dragged off to be killed, until Stalins death _quota_ was filled, how come Stalin died peacefully? If you beat on people enough, they'll line themselves up for you.

I think you're right with Cato then, it was proper to stress just how messed up it was to be trained to do something like that and the book should have done it.

As for Katniss, I didn't find her very wangsty, she was very very determined to survive, there was no situation where she wasn't proactive to deal with it and she never allowed herself to be very introspective. She had a temper but even her temper was channeled outwards, attacking Haymish etc. Peeta had more call to be wangsty because at least he had his rooftop scene and his mother thing, but even he was optimistic. As the film portrayed it Gale was angsty though (and about the worst thing in the film was what they did with the Gale/Peeta/Katniss stuff, it did diservice to the praticality of Katniss to thrust the love triangle in there, where in the book she clearly put it aside because she felt she had more important stuff
  • Defbye
  • 24th Jul 12
Oh, I didn't think Katniss was very wangsty either, I was talking about Bella Swan there. And it's pretty clear the movie tried to push the whole love triangle like the new Twilight, which is a shame really, as it was quite unnecessary.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 24th Jul 12
Oh okay, I get what you're going for, sorry, I guess thats down to taste, I found Katniss' faults refreshing because you get few protagonists who do anything like it and it felt real. But I guess what you're saying is on a larger scale my personal summary of the books, they're very good and seem pretty spot on with capturing human motivation, but they aren't aiming for entertainment but at telling you just how depressing this situation would be. It succeeds but it raises questions as to why we consume media at all, is it just to have a good time?

And I agree so wholeheatedly on the twilight thing
  • Defbye
  • 24th Jul 12
Ah, yes indeed. I suppose it also depends on where you lie on the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism (I'm on the idealist side). Being able to relate to a character is very important for me to enjoy a work, and if I don't like the characters, I rarely finish it. A lot of people can read anything as long as a character is interesting or a novel has an intriguing premise, but for me it has always been important that I like said character. I mainly read/watch/play things for entertainment and escapism or in educational purposes. So yes, a matter of taste I suppose :)

All in all, I think the novels are good, but flawed. And, like I said, there are a few things that bugged me here and there. But I would certainly recommend it for other people to read who might enjoy it more than I did.

  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 25th Jul 12
Ah well my favourite story has always been two guys get deeper and deeper into an obsessive rivalry, until in the end they've lost sight of everything they always wanted :D So there's our difference :)
  • thEpirate
  • 10th May 13
I have to say that for me the overly long makeover scenes (or chapters) and the Careers being Complete Monsters were a big part of the books, and I was a little sad when they cut them out. The movie was really done at the best, but the marketing shows too much for me to look at it and not to feel Hollywood's evil smile on the background.

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