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The Hunger Games is well made, but could use more character development

Updated on April 16, 2014

Despite being on my "To Read" list for well over a year, I haven't yet read The Hunger Games. Now before you fans of the book try to give my brain an atomic swirly-wedgie, I feel no shame about puting it off in favor of such books as Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law, the first two books in James Dashner's Maze Runner series (just got the third and it's been fast-tracked to the top of the list), or Dan Wells' John Cleaver trilogy. Seriously, y'all should check them out.

Ahh. Books. What was I talking about?

Hunger Games. Right.

Anyway, I haven't read the book (yet) but as a newbie to the world, I enjoyed the movie. The story is well told, if not completely original. That's not a real criticism. In story-teller circles, we talk about how almost all stories are mostly variations on stories that have been around for centuries.

But before I get off on another tangent, the storyline:

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her mother and younger sister in District 12. This one looks almost nothing like District 9, and apparently I missed District 10 and District 11, but whatever.

Every year, each of the twelve districts select one boy and one girl, aged 12 to 18, to send to the capitol where they participate in a deadly battle royale. Twenty four kids go in and only one comes out. Almost like a slightly faulty, kid-sized roach motel.

After a bit of drama, Katniss is selected, along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and together they're sent for training before the games. Katniss is great with a bow but needs to learn how to make people like her in order to get sponsors. Sponsors get you supplies and supplies help you survive. You hear that Mr. Limbaugh? You kinda want to keep your sponsors happy.

Now, given the setup, if you really need me to tell you who lives through the games, you seriously need a good brain wedgie yourself.

The story is well told and easy to follow.

There are some fun characters. Such as Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci. Or Caesar Flickerman's teeth, played by Doctor Teeth.

The action is well blocked and compelling.

Mostly, I only really have two big complaints.

First, while there are some fun characters, some of the main ones could seriously use a bit more development.

For instance, Woody Harrelson plays a man named Haymitch Abernathy. He was interesting enough, but afterwards, my brother (who actually has read the book) told me some of Haymitch's back story that wasn't mentioned in the movie, and I suddenly felt cheated. A lot of the nuance of the character was missing in the movie.

Just a few more well-structured character moments could have seriously increased my personal investment with the movie.

Second, I have to take issue with the amount of shaky-cam in this movie. I understand the purpose of shaky-cam. It helps increase the reality of what they're showing and helps the audience feel they're really there. But do you really need to shake quite that much? Seriously?

I don't mind not watching the entire world vibrate like a rabbit on crack when all you're showing is someone walking across a field in the first few minutes of the movie, well before there's even been a single hint of danger or action. Do I really need to feel like I'm right there for that?

That being said, I still enjoyed the movie a lot, though I suspect that it was made more for people who already read the book and know the characters and the world. However, when you make a movie mostly for fans of the book, you've got an uphill battle, because it's never going to match everyone's interpretation of the book.

Also, keep in mind that, at the end of the movie, it definitely feels like part one for a much larger story more than it feels like one complete, fully self-enclosed story. Not bad, just the way it is.

(Of course, it's not as if I've already written a ton about text to film adaptation, so I'll move on.)

Oh, and I never would have thought that they could actually find a makeup aplication that seriously made Elizabeth Banks look ugly. Congratulations movie. You broke pretty.

Personally, I'd give this one a 7 / 10, though, after speaking with my brother I suspect that I would have rated it more like an 8 or 9. (However, my sister didn't seem to like it quite as much and she has also read the book, so take that for what it's worth.)

The Hunger Games is rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens.


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    • Garlonuss profile image

      Garlonuss 5 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Yeah, I'm sure the characters'll be more fleshed out over the next three movies (they've already made plans to split Mocking Jay into two movies). And I enjoyed the movie well enough on its own. I specifically saw this before reading the series to see how well the uninitiated could understand it all. It was just when I started to understand how they were described in the books that I started to feel how much the movie had dropped. We'll see how the rest plays out.

    • Miss Mimi profile image

      Miss Mimi 5 years ago from On the road again

      Nice review. I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, and I loved he movie, but think your review is definitely fair. I read all three books before seeing the film, but got the same feeling you did about the character development and back stories. I feel like this happens a lot hen books are translated o film though so I'm holding out hope that we'll get to know the other characters better in the next films. Voted up!

    • Garlonuss profile image

      Garlonuss 5 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Hey thanks man. I just read your review too and it looks like, this time at least, we're not on opposite sides of the opinion. ;)

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      Spoiler Alert:

      True, the character's in the film are not as well defined in the film as they are in the book. The relationship between Katniss and Rue was also a little rushed, and it seems like Katniss's reaction to Rue's death is very unrealistic considering that she only knew her for a day. In the book, their relationship was deeper, and it was much clearer why Katniss acted the way she does. In the book, Rue was the same age as Katniss's little sister Primrose, and so Rue's death was more personal. In the film it's rushed and not as well explained/shown. Great review, voted Up and Everything Else.