‘Hunger Games’ Movie Box Office Gold, But Did It Outshine The Book? [POLL]

Opinion

 @cavanshays
on March 26 2012 11:10 AM
Hunger Games Box Office
"The Hunger Games" movie rocked the box office over the course of its opening weekends, breaking records and reeling in $155 million in ticket sales. "The Hunger Games" broke the box office record for highest grossing nonsequal and ranked at No. 3 for biggest box office opening of all time. But was it better than the book? Reuters

The Hunger Games movie rocked the box office over the course of its opening weekend, breaking records and reeling in $155 million in ticket sales. The Hunger Games broke the box office record for highest grossing nonsequal and ranked at No. 3 for biggest box office opening of all time.

The first silver-screen installment of Suzanne Collins' best-selling young adult series landed itself at No. 3 of the top biggest opening weekends of all time, falling behind just Harry Potter at the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight. It also scored the top spot for biggest opening of a non-sequal. The film shattered records and blew past all of the Twilight films.

The Hunger Games movie got glowing reviews from critics and fans alike. On Friday night, CinemaScore revealed those under the age of 25 gave it an A+ and those over 25 an A-, reported the Hollywood Reporter. Teenagers and pre-teens made up 39 percent of the audience under the age of 18, according to CinemaScore's exit polling. The Hollywood Reporter suggested that the film's success stems from its unisex appeal. Friday night's audience consisted of 39 percent males and 61 percent white females.

Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson proved their prowess with forcefully poignant performances.

Despite the skyrocketing success of the film, Hunger Games was a wildly successful novel by Suzanne Collins entirely unto itself. Oftentimes, it is difficult for a film to live up to silver-screen expectations. Here are five reasons why, in spite of the actors' phenomenal portrayals, the movie paled in comparison to the book. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT.

Katniss Everdeen Became Slightly One-Dimensional

Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is the heroine of the novel. Katniss Everdeen is the sole provider for her family -- her mother and her sister, Primrose. Katniss' father died when Katniss was just 11-years-old in a coal-mine explosion. After her father's death, her mother broke down and could no longer provide for the family. Katniss became the matriarch, hunting for food and keeping some semblance of order in their lives. Primrose, otherwise known as Prim, is Katniss' heart and soul. At the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Prim is just 12 years of age with one ballot against her in the reaping. However, by a cruel twist of fate, Prim's name is drawn as the tribute for District 12. Katniss immediately offers up herself and goes into the Hunger Games in place of her little sister. Katniss is 16-years-old at the time.

Of course Katniss' bravery is palpable when she cries out I volunteer! to prevent her young sister Prim from having to enter the games. The audience surely realized Katniss was potentially sacrificing her own life in a means to save her sister's. However, this seemed to be one of the only instances Katniss got to reveal her inner complexities. Since she is not an emotional character, seeing inside her mind the way the novel allowed offered greater understanding of her many unique layers.

District 12 Seemed Sugar-Coated

The citizens living in the 12 districts of Panem suffer from extreme hunger, particularly those living in District 12. The Capitol rations the districts as a means of control. The citizens in districts are oftentimes forced to go hungry. In District 12, they are especially vulnerable to this. District 12 citizens have been known to eat rotten food and tree bark, stealing from garbage cans what meager bits they can find. The one salvation is the woods, which are location on the edge of District 12 and are rife with game.

Although the movie portrayed the squalor and starkness of District 12 through ragged costumes and a gray lens, not enough time was dedicated to revealing the true desperation the citizens in that district face. They are impoverished, starved and without hope. The reaping happened so quickly that little focus was placed on the bleakness of this region. District 12 has surely influneced the lives of Katniss, her family, Gale, Peeta and others. It is a part of who they are and should have been handled as such. Of course, this may be a more pivotal part of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie.

The Love Triangle Failed to Materialize

The love triangle between Katniss, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is one of the most central points of The Hunger Games trilogy. Without giving too much information away for those who have not read the series, Katniss' doubts over whether to be with Gale or Peeta go far deeper than who is better looking. Gale is her childhood friend who helped her to hunt in the woods, taught her critical survival skills and kept her spirits high even in the dismal District 12. Peeta becomes her Hunger Games comrade, he once saved her from starvation and he is the caring, charismatic counterpart to her stoic, elusive persona.

The whole Team Gale or Team Peeta (to play off Twilight clichés) did not stand out in The Hunger Games movie. Liam Hemsworth's character only made brief appearances on screen, totaling to what could not have been more than five minutes. Katniss' relationship with Gale did not seem much greater than close friends who bonded during forest excursions. Katniss and Peeta, of course, are separated for much of the time in the games. Yet, even when they finally reunite and she helps heal him in the game, the inner unrest Katniss feels about showing affection towards Peeta was not visible.

Death Made Easy

At the end of Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta make the decision to kill themselves instead of having to kill each other. When the option for two players to win is revoked, Katniss decides to offer up a handful of poisonous berries to Peeta so both could die together. In the book, Katniss hands Peeta the berries and they eat them, until the sound it called and the berries must be spit out. The two are then airlifted and given medical attention before returning to District 12. In the movie, this final scene was wholly anticlimactic. Neither Peeta nor Katniss actually physically consumes the berries. A Stop! is yelled from the Capitol and the games are over. Simple as that.

The superficiality of the movie goes deeper than just this final scene. Some saw it in the entire setting. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis commented on the picturesque dystopia of the arena. Nothing else in the arena comes close to that initial fight in its sheer primal impact. Working with Tom Stern, Clint Eastwood's longtime cinematographer, Mr. Ross tries to find mystery in the forest, in its canopy of trees and thick undergrowth, but never locates a deeper dread, despite the computer-generated fireballs and hounds, and especially the other tributes. Part of what makes the 'Hunger Games' books so effective is that they literalize the familiar drama of adolescence, translating the emotional assaults, peer pressure, cliques and the tortured rest into warfare, wrote Dargis.

Reality Versus Reality TV

Suzanne Collins' book was so amazing and thought-provoking because it hinted at issues that we all must contend with in society today - unnecessary wars, hunger, exploitation and more. One of the most powerful aspects in The Hunger Games trilogy is that the games, the deaths and the like are broadcast on national television for the entertainment of the wealthy one percent. This grotesque display of profiteering is nothing short of sickening. In the movie, this perverse facet seems to be glossed over. The commentary of Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci, provides for some reminder of this heinous practice; yet it is easy to forget that the characters themselves are affected by the live broadcast. Katniss is conflicted over whether Peeta truly cares for her or if it is all an act for the cameras and for his own survival. Katniss must push herself to act against the norm to gratify the viewing audience. This did not translate on film.

What did you think of The Hunger Games movie? Take our poll below.

<span class=mceItemHidden>&<span class=mceItemHiddenSpellWord>lt</span>;a <span class=mceItemHiddenSpellWord>href</span>=http://polldaddy.com/poll/6078427/ <span class=mceItemHiddenSpellWord>mce</span>_<span class=mceItemHiddenSpellWord>href</span>=http://polldaddy.com/poll/6078427/>The Hunger Games Movie&<span class=mceItemHiddenSpellWord>lt</span>;/a></span> 

Share this article

More News from IBT MEDIA