HOP Review: The Hunger Games (Movie)

Everything I see online about The Hunger Games is a celebration of a strong young female protagonist in a trilogy for the YA (young adult) literary market – a fresh break from wimpy pre-vampire Bella in the Twilight series, for example.

Blah blah blah.  I just liked the books.  As with Twilight, I read through the series with great speed since the writing style and the action lent themselves to burning through each book and a subsequent urgency to read the next.  Luckily, I have a dealer close by who owns all three books and made it easy for me to exchange one for the next.

And then we went to see the movie together the other night.  It was a Tuesday night in the suburbs and the big release weekend hubbub had died down.  We had the entire theater to ourselves until right before the film started.  I love it here.

Anyway, the movie.

The Hunger Games movie was a nice representation of the misery and unrest in the post-apocalyptic world that author Suzanne Collins created in the book.  The film condensed a lot of the plot and put certain details into the mouths of different characters, but that kind of switcheroo is expected when adapting a book to a movie.  Overall, I give it a thumbs up, but I’m not sure that people who haven’t read the book would have the same reaction.  I can see it being confusing to people who don’t know what is going on in main character Katniss’ mind as she faces each obstacle.  After all, when you watch a movie, all you have to go on is what you see and hear.  When you read a book, your imagination has far fewer limitations.

I particularly enjoyed the visual style of the film, especially the representation of the Capitol – the area of new North America that controls the rest of the country.  In the movie it is lavish and over the top and they have the most bitchin’ computer systems since Tron.  I’m putting their 3D holographic user interface on my wish list.

But enjoying the visual translation of this story had to come with the downside:  the violence.  I had read that it wasn’t too bad and that older children might be fine with it.  However, I am pretty sensitive to violence in movies.  I can’t watch fight movies or war movies or slasher films.  Even Katniss’ burn and Peeta’s sword wound were tough for me to see, no matter how much I told myself it wasn’t real.

Recently on Dr. Laura’s radio show, a woman called in to talk about how she brought her 12-year-old son to the movie, not knowing what it was about.  She didn’t know anything about the story and wondered about the level of violence shown on screen.  Let’s not dwell on the idea that she could have looked on the internet to see exactly how much violence would be on screen.  But she didn’t.  So she brought her son to the movie, realized within the first ten minutes that the story of this movie is about 24 children in a battle to the death, and then left.

When Laura Schlesinger heard what the story was, she actually screeched.  It hurt my ears.  I laughed.  In this age of media saturation, there was no excuse for that mom’s gaffe.  I feel bad for the poor kid, but in the end, I think the mom did the right thing.  I have a really hard time with violence, and it’s worse when the violence relates to children.  I waited a long time to read The Hunger Games trilogy.  I enjoyed it, but those images of children killing each other are definitely not good for the spirit.  I’m gonna go watch some puppies playing now.


  1. says

    My 12yo (this week) daughter went to see the film. She’d read the books and we all knew what it was about. I didn’t have a problem with her seeing the film, as we’ll discuss and we did discuss etc. What I have a problem with is this film being rated PG13 despite the theme of violence, and “Bully” being rated R because of the F bomb. We’ve lost our common sense. We want a movie rating machine to protect us. From thinking, apparently.

  2. says

    I’m glad someone rational wrote a review of this. I hadn’t heard of the series or the movie until a friend (a much younger friend) was raving about it on Facebook. It looks terrifying and upsetting to me. My thought was that if kids want to read about that sort of demoralizing stuff they should read the Hiding Place. When I saw the trailer of the movie that was the first thing I thought of. Keep in mind I read that book in the fourth grade, but seriously, the gut reaction was the same.

  3. says

    I was a big fan of the books and loved the movie, but I agree that in order to fully understand the movie, you have to read the book first. Otherwise you’ll just see it as a glorification of kids killing kids. It’s next on the TBR list for my 12 year old son. I will not take him to see the movie until after he’s read the book.

  4. says

    My husband and I went to see it. I think they did a pretty good job with the movie. The acting was WAAAAAYYY more believable than Twilight. The budget overall was bigger, and I think that is why everything from the directing to the special effects was noticeably better than the Twilight Saga.

    We were really annoyed that someone bought their child (under 6 or under with a horribly croupy cough) to this movie! It was bad enough we were in the presence of a child also watching the same brutal scenes, but she was also infectious! That put it over the edge for me!

  5. says

    My 13 year old daughter just convinced me today that I could see the movie without reading the books. I guess I’ll be reading as fast as I can in the next few days.

  6. says

    As a martial arts instructor, my position on violence is that it shouldn’t be ignored, and it can be healthy to for children to struggle with concepts of violence under the right circumstances.

    That said, the violence we imagine for ourselves in books and the violence shown in to us in movies are totally different.

    Thanks for a great post!

  7. says

    I’m really not interested in seeing the film because I haven’t read the series and the stack of books on my nightstand is prohibitively high. But my 13 year old devoured the books (pun intended, sorry) and she and my husband really liked the movie. And my daughter can tell you exactly why she liked the movie and what didn’t work so well for her and what looked different than she’d imagined it and how hard it was to watch all the bad stuff that she’d imagined while reading. A rather in depth analysis. And I love this about my girl. She’s a really good audience member.

  8. says

    @Jamie, I can’t believe someone brought a young child, and a sick one at that. Those people make me hate going to the movies.

    It’s funny how something like this trilogy of YA novels makes people really stop and think, and then the movie version of it spreads the idea to a wider audience.

  9. says

    Wow….I’ve heard so much about the film but did not realize the level of violence. Not sure that I would like it simply for that reason so I appreciate your honest review

  10. says

    My 14yo gobbled up the series. At first he was excited about the movie, but now he has some reservations b/c he doesn’t want to be disappointed in how it was adapted. We always discuss what we see, so I’m not too worried about the violence in the movie. It may open up an opportunity for a great discussion.

  11. says

    I’m sorry I did not like the movie since I don’t think it’s a children’s book and still don’t get why it is one. But I appreciate your review!

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