Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: May the odds be ever in your favor!

With the release of The Hunger Games today, I’ve been thinking about other films that were adapted from popular literary works. Unfortunately, such adaptations don’t always prove successful. Consider 1995’s disappointing adaptation of The Scarlet Letter starring Demi Moore and Gary Oldman, or 1998’s drab film version of Great Expectations starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke, or Robert Zemekis’ painful motion capture rendering of Beowulf in 2007 – the original literary works on which these films are based are superb, but the film adaptations, quite frankly, stink.

I have such high hopes for The Hunger Games. I could not put the books down once I started reading them. Seeing them come alive in film format is something I’m very excited about. Am I going in with great expectations? You bet I am. Is there a part of me that’s cautiously thinking, don’t expect too much in case the filmmakers get it wrong? Yes indeed. But I am hopeful and excited about how the books have been adapted; about how the story will come alive onscreen; about how the young actors charged with the task of embodying the characters that I’ve grown to like and to know and to root for will portray them. I wonder! As CS wrote in his post about what makes a good movie trailer, I am buying into the early hype about the film because the trailer is so darn good! It does offer the promise of a great film with indications that the filmmakers have remained true to the vision of author Suzanne Collins (a safe bet since she co-wrote it.)

The early buzz has been massive with talk that it will quickly become the biggest box office hit of the year so far. And the film is being touted as suitable for anyone and everyone; not just for rabid fans of the books. Plenty of critics have already weighed in after early screenings and they’ve bestowed high praise and recommendation. The studio earned my money from the moment I read the last page of the first book and looked forward with anticipation to the release of the film. Too often what happens when best-selling and beloved novels are adapted into blockbuster films is we become fixated on all of the places the filmmakers got the adaptation wrong. With The Hunger Games movie, early indications suggest that there is little to pick on and few shortcomings to detract from the overall impact, craftsmanship and translation. My fervent hope is that after seeing it, I will spend the bulk of my time singing the film’s praises and pointing out all of the places that the filmmakers got it right.

What upcoming adaptations are you most excited about this year? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. A very good film but for some odd reason, I feel like I should have liked it so much more. Then again, didn't read the book so that may have something to do with it as well. Overall, a better adaptation of a teenie novel than any of those Twilight pieces of crap and Lawrence's career will hopefully jump start right after this. Great review JBT.

  2. I'm glad to hear that the it was an enjoyable film. I am hoping to see it this weekend, though I might wait until next weekend when theaters *may* not be as crammed as they're likely to be on opening weekend. I thought the 'Twilight' series was okay and I saw the movies without having read any of the books. It will be interesting to see what it's like seeing 'The Hunger Games' after reading the series and thoroughly enjoying it.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

  3. Great commentary, JBT! I'd be interested in reading your final review of the film. I just saw it this weekend and was woefully disappointed. I started to read the books, but because of the first person narrative, I gave up after 20 pages and hoped the movie would be more palatable. I could not have been more wrong or more bored. For a story about a life and death game, the game-specific scenes lacked any kind of underlying tension, anxiety, and fear that I would assume you'd feel when you're fighting for your life. It left me feeling ambivalent about any of the characters surviving (except the little girl, whose name I'm totally forgetting). At the end of the day, I think I'm going to have to suck it up and try to get back into the first book. I'm hoping it was simply the screen adaptation that was the problem.

  4. Thanks, dEmon. Alas, I won't be writing a final review of the film because CS already did so for the blog. In fact, I still have yet to see it! But I may share a few thoughts byway of a comment here once I've finally watched the film.

    As for the books, I really enjoyed them. It's too bad you couldn't get past the first 20 pages. I suggest giving the first book another chance. Though hugely popular, The Hunger Games aren't for everyone.


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