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The Hunger Games Review, or Jennifer Lawrence Makes Me Hungry


For this review, I shall be discussing how to do a proper adaptation, by showing you how not to do a proper adaptation.

And Stanley Tucci will show you how to rock blue hair.

In my opinion, this film failed because it was trying too hard to be faithful to the book. And no surprise. The author of The Hunger Games books was, in fact, co-screenwriter for this. And I'm pretty sure Suzanne Collins, talented writer though she is, knows very little about adaptation.

First thing to do with adaptation is to decide what the story is going to be about. Will this be a story about the love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, with the futuristic world of Panem serving as merely a backdrop? This is what J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter. It's a story about love, friendship, loyalty, and (insert other positive stuff here). The magical universe is merely a backdrop. This is also what George Lucas did with Star Wars. It's a story about family, relationships, trust, and (insert other positive stuff here). The galaxy far, far away is merely a backdrop as well.

If that was the case here, meaning if the focus was on the love story, and the setting was merely a backdrop, then it failed. I didn't feel the love triangle, nor did I feel Katniss's struggle between Gale and Peeta. It wasn't fleshed out quite well.

Also, lack of flesh.

But what if it was the other way around? What if it was going to be a story about the futuristic world of Panem, including its historical background and the legend behind the Hunger Games, with the love triangle being a mere incidental sub-plot? This is what George R.R. Martin did in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga, the game of thrones and clash of kings being mere subplots. This is also what J.R.R. Tolkien did with Lord of the Rings. The mythology of Middle-Earth was the real star, with the journey of the One Ring being a mere device to propel the mythology forward.

If that was the case here, meaning if the focus was on bringing the universe to life, and the love story was merely a subplot, then it failed as well. I didn't feel the grit of District 12. I didn't feel the struggle of the other districts. And I didn't feel the decadence and debauchery of the Capitol.

Maybe through the costumes, but that's about it.

What Suzanne Collins did here was attempt to score the best of both worlds. She wanted to tell the love story, and at the same time establish the universe. But this cannot be done, not unless you stretch the story longer than two hours. And last time I checked, Ms. Collins wasn't in any negotiations with HBO in adapting her books to television.

The secret to doing a good adaptation is this: Take the story, strip it down to its barest essence, then tell the story again, but this time with the cinematic medium in mind.

That said, it's pretty obvious what my verdict is. This film was visually well-made, but not really well-told. I'm not saying it was horrible, or even bad. I'm saying it could've been done better. And if anyone asks me whether I think I could adapt this better than Suzanne Collins herself, then my answer would be yes. But you'd have to pay me, of course. Good adaptations don't come cheap.

P.S. This film had some redeeming qualities, though. First was Stanley Tucci, who is always a delight to watch. Second was Lenny Kravitz, who totally pulled off gold eyeliner. Third was Woody Harrelson as the adorable Haymitch Abernathy. And last of course is the sole reason I'm watching the sequels, and that is the hotness that is Jennifer Lawrence.

Perhaps the sequel can be called
The Boner Games.

The Hunger Games. USA. 2012.

Rating: Six and a half out of ten.

You might also want to check out Sue Denim's review of The Hunger Games.


Anonymous said...

the boner games. LOL. -lance x.

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