Friday, March 2, 2012

Hunger Games! Is The Movie Going To Get It Right?

In 21 days (not that I’m counting . . .), the wait for The Hunger Games movie will be over! And I, like many others, will be standing in a long line to see it! And, also like many others, my excitement will be tempered by a nagging voice in the back of my head that will be worriedly asking:

“What if the movie people screw it up?!”

I’m not going to name any names – let’s just say that I have been disappointed in the past by movies based on books I really enjoyed. I’m not saying it’s an easy job to turn a beloved book into an equally awesome movie - I’m sure that it is an unimaginably difficult task that I am in no way qualified to comment on. But what can I say? My emotional connection to certain books makes me feel quite justified in judging the movies.

Plus, it’s just fun to talk about movies you’re really excited to see. What else have we got to do for the next 21 days? (Again, not that I’m counting!)

Here are my preliminary thoughts on the movie, based purely on the promotional materials I have seen. Please feel free to argue with me, agree with me, applaud my brilliance or call me out for being silly. In fact, to encourage you to do just that, I will be giving away a copy of The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion to the author of my favorite comment left on this post.

To win: leave a comment below, along with your email (or some other way of getting in touch with you, in case you win!), telling me why you agree/disagree with something in this post. The comment that strikes me as the most awesome (for whatever reason) will win the Movie Companion! (BTW, I’m flipping through it now and it’s pretty dang cool – just saying). The contest will end this Sunday, March 4, at 10pm EST and the winner will be announced on my personal blog on Monday, March 5. (Click HERE to get to my blog)

Ok, so my thoughts on the movie:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss – I have not seen Winter’s Bone or X-Men: First Class, so I don’t really know much about her as an actress. But she definitely seems to look the part, doesn’t she? And, according to the Movie Companion, Suzanne Collins apparently sat in on her audition and gave her the thumb’s up, so that’s got to be a good sign!

Gale and Peeta - When I first saw this picture, I assumed that the person who wrote the caption got the two guys mixed up – surely he/she meant to say that the blonde guy (Josh Hutcherson) would be playing “Gale” and the brunette (Liam Hemsworth) would be playing “Peeta”? That was how I saw them in my head – in fact, Josh Hutcherson is the spitting image of the “Gale” from my imagination (literally down to the bone structure). I have no idea why this is – my head is a weird place. (By the way, I know that at least one other Indelible Author shares my opinion on this – so I’m not the only weird one!) This perceived reversal really threw me at first, but I’ve gotten used to it now and I am fairly confident that I will not spend the entire movie wondering how in the world Gale ended up in the arena instead of Peeta.

Lenny Kravitz as Cinna – My initial thought here was, “What? Cinna doesn’t sing.” But this photo makes it pretty clear that he and Jennifer Lawrence nailed the emotional connection between Cinna and Katniss (which was one of my favorite parts of the book), so I am now fully Team Kravitz.

Amanda Stenberg as Rue – First of all, how cute is this little girl? Second, I was surprised that some people were shocked when Rue was “revealed” to be black (see HERE, for a discussion of race and The Hunger Games). I pictured Rue as black when I read the book, although I do have to admit that I sometimes pictured her and Prim interchangeably. For me, they were essentially the same character, representing the innocence that other characters went to great (and inevitably futile) lengths to protect.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow – I’m pretty sure I was actually picturing Donald Sutherland in this role while I was reading the book, so I’m very happy with this choice. No one can play elegantly crazy like this man!

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch – The Haymitch in my head was older and fatter than Harrelson, but I’ll bet he has the wit to pull this off. I enjoyed his relationship with Katniss in the book and how they grew to really understand one another, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that is translated onto screen.

The Wacky Capital Fashions – If the awesomely crass outfit of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) in this photo is any indication of what is to come, I can’t wait to see more of these.

The Look of District 12 – District 12 was not a nice place inside of my head, but I was still surprised by the stark images of the central square in the latest trailer. The District 12 in my mind's eye was a bit wilder and dirtier, with everything sort of sprinkled with coal dust. In the movie, District 12 appears more reminiscent of a concentration camp (particularly with the clothing worn by the residents). But I think I actually like this change – it’s more uncomfortable than the generous images in my head, and thus more powerful.

(Sorry I don't have an image for this one, but you can watch the latest trailer HERE)

Anyway, those are my thoughts! Few books have captured my imagination lately the way that Hunger Games did, so I am really looking forward to being captivated all over again by the movie. What about you? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Did I miss anything? Don’t forget to leave your comment for a chance to win a copy of The Official Illustrated Movie Companion! Cheers!


  1. I made the mistake of rereading the book this week. It's been two years since I last read it. If they make any drastic changes (or drop my favorite scenes), I'll know. :(

    Too bad we have to wait so long for it to be released. I'm away the week it comes out and will have to wait two weeks to see it (with my son).

    Neither of the actor fit the images in my head, but I'm over that now.

  2. Did you see these International Hunger Games covers?? *swoon*

    I cannot wait for this movie! I had the exact same reaction to the Peeta/Gale casting, but I think I'm dealing better with it now. As for Lenny Kravitz, the first poster I saw of him was perfect, so I can completely see him as Cinna. Woody Harrelson was the one that threw me - not because I thought Haymitch would be physically different, but because I can't get Zombieland out of my head!!

    Also: I wantz that movie guide. :)

  3. Great thoughts and so many to ponder!! I watched a clip last night. It looked pretty sweet!!

  4. I can't wait! Seeing these pictures makes me want to see the movie even more! I agree about getting Gale and Peeta mixed up but I'm sure I'll get over that pretty fast! Eek. Now I'm excited for it.

  5. Some of the casting choices were a bit surprising--Woody Harrelson in particular. And I'm really glad I've never seen Jennifer Lawrence in a movie. (That way she can "be" Katniss for me.)

    I really, really want to reread the book. But so far I've resisted because my worry is the same as Stina's--I won't be able to enjoy the movie as much if I'm picking out all the changes.

    I can't wait to see the movie!

  6. Gale and Peeta are definitely mixed up. Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect fit - exactly how I imagined her. Rue: ah, my heart breaks just thinking about her in the arena.
    The overall cast for the movie looks awesome and the scenes from the trailers do make you think the arena is as real and challenging as it was in the book. Excited!

  7. Chrissy CostelloMarch 2, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    It will only live up to my expectations if it is the perfect combination of "5th Element" and "Lord of the Rings.". I am actually having some anxiety about it not living up to just how epic this book is. Cory, you'll be happy to hear I just got a DonorsChoose project funded, and all the students in my class now have their own copy of "Hunger Games." We just started reading it this week, and they're already stoked :)

    -Chrissy Costello

    1. Chrissy that is SO awesome!! So excited to hear that - and I'm glad your class is loving Hunger Games! :-)

  8. Cory, when it comes to this book, we share a brain. I also pictured Rue and Prim as the same person most of the time,thought Haymitch was older and fatter, and Donald Sutherland is for sure Pres. Snow! (I would also be the other Indelible who had Gale and Peeta's coloring switched. Ha!) I think Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is going to be fabulous - I kind of always pictured him as different guys from Queer Eye for the straight guy - but never settled on one.
    I'm so flipping excited for this movie and am just ready to accept it for what it is and not compare it to the books too much.

    1. Ha ha, Stacey! I THOUGHT it was you, but I couldn't find our conversation thread where we talked about it!!

  9. I actually saw Donald Sutherland as Haymitch when I was reading the books!!! Not Woody Harrelson.

  10. Okay, here we go:
    *Jennifer Lawrence - I think she can pull it off. I have faith in her.
    *Josh Hutcherson - I was shocked initially, cause he's still the little kid I remember from his previous movies. I have a feeling that will change once he gives Katniss "the look" know what I'm sayin? I don't know about anyone else, but when I see Jennifer and Josh together I can't help thinking she's too much woman for him. Kinda like Eric and Donna from That 70's Show.
    *Woody Harrelson - AS HAYMITCH??? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Haymith is tubby! Woody just looks....greasy...eew.
    *Rue - She was ALWAYS dark-skinned in my mind. I approve.
    *Cinna - Yes! Lenny is pretty, like Cinna.
    *Pres. Snow - Not exactly how I pictured him, but WELL DONE!
    * The Fashion - Effie's outfit is a good start, but I will expect some blinking lights along the way.
    I'm so excited for this movie I already have tix for opening night and for the following Saturday. I don't believe that any movie is as good as it's book, but I do think it can be great in the right hands. If I put you to sleep, I apologize.

  11. The casting of both Peeta and Gale matched my visualizations of them, so go figure!

  12. I really hope they get it right. I love the preview so that's an excellent start. NOT how I pictured Peeta or Gale at all though. But then again, the author's descriptions of them were vague enough that it left it open for interpretation. Fingers crossed!

  13. I cannot wait. Every trailer and picture I see looks amazing.
    I still do not really like the actor playing Peeta. Gale fits perfectly but..I dunno why and I haven't reread my book yet, but I'm 99% sure he does not fit what I had in my head at all. And maybe that is just how I read the book!? We'll see when I reread it...I hope when I watch it I'm not too invested in "hating the actor playing peeta" cause I really think I'm going to LOVE this movie. Everytime I see a commercial for it on TV I turn it up to 100 and just stare with my mouth wide open in amazement.

    I just hope I'm not let down. I feel like there is absolutely no way I can be from the previews, but who knows...maybe they're only showing the best parts....

    I've seen movies with Jennifer Lawrence, and I feel like she's going to be awesome for the role. Everyone else too. I didn't have anyone in mind to play as I read, but I also pictured Haymitch to be a bit more..round. I also feel like he should have a lot less hair...

    Overall, I think they did a really good job with the cast (hopefully I still believe this after seeing it!)

  14. Whenever films get made of books I love, it's always surprising to see what actors moviemakers choose to portray these characters.

    - Jennifer Lawrence is tom-boyish enough, yet gorgeous enough to play Katniss. Although, I did imagine Katniss a little leaner (less healthy). Everyone in District 11 should look malnourished.

    - The guy playing Gale is perfect, but Josh Hutcherson who plays Peeta is wrong. He's not blond, blue-eyed, but more importantly, Hutcherson has always played characters that were smartasses. Peeta is witty, but persuasive - so we'll see.

    - Woody Harrelson as Haymitch? Nope. RANDY QUAID would have been absolutely perfect! While reading the book, I actually imagined Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz as Effie and Cinna!

    - I like Sutherland as President Snow, but I would have cast John Voigt.

  15. I'm very excited for these movies & just as curious to see if they get it right. In last weeks issue of Entertainment Weekly, they interviewed the director and producers and one of the biggest isues discused was getting it right. Of the bat they state that fans have been ticked about things shown in the trailers being different.
    Examples- Prim giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin instead of Madge. This sort of upsets me, but I understand they're reasoning. Just like when writing a book things get cut, changed or deleted to keep the story focused, moving or to better establish character relationships. They cut Madge because "You have so little time to establish these characters. So if Madge has to get thrown under the busso you can make sure that an audience who hasn't read the books understands the devotion between Katniss and Prim, then that's what you do." I for one liked Madge and the pin to me it tied the adults in the book more into the book, showed that they understood on more of a level than rising their children, but experienced the loss of their own friends as children.
    Next, no Avoxes. Again EW stated this and it was because of pace and character progression. Avoxes were "a great way to populate the world" but they felt it was something that could be cut without hurting the storyline. Again, I understand thei easoning, but they Avoxes was another form of the cruelty going on.
    The prep team... they're there, but they focus more on Cinna and Katniss now he others later. This one I'm uncertain of. Cinna and Katniss are incredibly important I agree, but the others have an emotional tie too, so not sure what to say on that.
    The 4th thing EW says that will not be there, Capitol gadgetry. As in the stuff like the cool button yu can press for food to magically appear.. not there. They didn't want the Capitol to appear to fanciful, but omnious and threatening. Ok that I get. But there are things, major thing they should NOT cut, so we'll see. The one I'm ticked about most... Peeta DOES NOT throw Katniss the bread as teenagers, but as kids. That should've been kept because it developed their relationship. He's loved her since they were little at that moment... show that don't just say it. And maybe (benefit of the doubt here) what's going is Katniss is just getting bread then and tells us about when they were kids, like its continued to go on... I'd be ok, but its made to happen as teens, to me it changes things. I KNOW may be little and possibly dumb, but that's when it started so that's when it should start.

    As for characters... I agree they have Gale and Peeta reversed. I picture them just as you did and it threw me off. I'm getting used to it... but physical appearance wise I totally agree with you, hopefully the way they portray the characters in the movie changes my mind and convinces me they were right. Woody, I completely thought he was perfect for Haymitch! To me Woody was more than capable of portraying Haymitch with his personality & acting. I felt Lenny Kravitz was a great pick for Cinna too. Lenny has an over-the-top way about him sometimes and too me just fit the role. Then seeing the stills and trailers... he totally developes the motion bond with Katniss. As for Elizabeth Banks and Wes Bentley, I don't know. They just didn't strike me as fits, but we'll see. Jennifer Lawrence fits Katniss to me and Donald Sutherland... plays n amazing crazy guy in charge lol.

    District 12... I thought it should have been a little dirtier. Its a coal mining distric and granted coal mining towns aren't disgusting, but they have soot problems. To me it appeared to clean, but then again trailers are just snip its.

    All I can say is... Hope I get to see the movie at midnight premiere night! I'm in a battle with the hubby to do it, so we'll see! I'm anxious to see if it holds up to expectations and I'd be very upset if it doesn't...

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  17. I disagree with the Josh Hutcherson and Liam thing. I think Liam looks like a great Gale, but I don't think Josh is exactly what I had in mind for Peeta. I mean, I love Josh, but I thought Peeta would be, well, cuter. And Haymitch... let's just say that this is not how I pictured him. At all. I'm excited for the movie, though! I'm seeing it on March 23rd. At 10:30 at night... no midnight showing for me!

  18. I didn't read the book until I had seen the trailer and all of the pictures from the movie, so I already had those in my head when I started reading and imagined everything the way it was in the trailer. XD I think they did a good job from what I've seen in the trailer and clips. I can't wait to see the movie!

  19. I read all three books back to back in what seemed like 10 minutes (not really, but it seemed that my life just paused and the only thing that mattered was seeing how the trilogy ended). And I'll admit the first time I read Mockingjay I didn't know if I liked or didn't like the ending. I've finally decided that while I wouldn't have written the ending that way, I can understand why Collins did end the series that way. Now, with that said -

    When my friend who made me read the books told me about the movie I nearly passed out with joy. Finally, a book to film story with an actual strong kick-ass female lead (sorry Twi-fans, but lifeless Bella just doesn't do it for me - hate me if you want, I'll forgive you after I give you some books that will really make you hungry). Being a big fan of movies, I'd seen Jennifer L in Winter's Bone, X-Men, plus the tv show The Bill Engvall show. And I've gotta say, particularly after her character in Winter's Bone, I'm not worried about Jen being able to focus in on Kat's ability to sacrifice herself for those she loves. Her teenage character in WB does that as well, though not quite the same setting.
    As for the rest of the cast, I don't remember my initial reaction to the casting of Peeta or Gale, but I've gotta say, from what I've seen in the trailers and read in interviews, I think both actors will nail their respective characters. And while Donald Sutherland is exactly how I'd pictured Snow, I've gotta say the best casting I think is Harrelson. I've seen a lot of his work, but honestly, the first thing I thought of was (and I hope this doesn't age me too bad because I'm only 28) was Cheers! I mean honestly, who better to play a drunkard, yet very smart when he wants to be, guy than a guy who acted in a 'bar' for years! Then there was the crazy guy he played in 2012 and the somewhat sane boyfriend from Will and Grace. As much as I love our three main characters, I've gotta say part of me hopes Harrelson steals the games.


  20. I am so overly stressed about this movie that my husband has told me to take a breather. The books are amazing and I refused to read them for a while finding out how emotional my friends have been while reading this. Finally I started listening to book 1 as an audiobook while driving to and from work. Once I started I could not stop. At times my husband would call me and I was so overwhelmed by sadness that I couldn't even talk. All he would say was wow all this over a book? Well it's more than a book to me it's actually a real world in my head and now we get to see it.

    He is going with me so finally he will get to see what all the fuzz has been about. Can't it get here sooner!


  21. I pictured District 12 as more run down too.

    I think the movie will be really good. :)