When the movie is better than the book…

Last week I finally took the time to go and see the second movie instalment of The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire.  Having heard how good it is all over the internet in blogs and reviews, You Tube, newspapers, TV shows, etc., I was swayed to go check it out.  I’m usually put off by books and movies that are overhyped but this time my curiosity got the best of me.  I felt the first film of The Hunger Games was all wrong and was sure that Catching Fire would be a imagesdisappointment too.

Happily, I was wrong.  They really seemed to put in a real effort to capture the spirit and meaning of the book, which wasn’t so much the case with The Hunger Games.  As a matter of fact, Catching Fire the novel ,as I think back wasn’t really that captivating until the last quarter of the story.  That’s the part when they go back into the arena.  The rest of the book was just a lot of teenage angst and going backward and forward between the love triangle Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.  Don’t ask me because I’m team nobody.

I still believe that the majority of trilogies and series at the moment don’t always meet the criteria to be one.  The stories often feel stretched beyond belief and grow stale way before the end.  The Hunger Games trilogy was a valid trilogy, in essence, but it just seemed to be not as well executed as the story continued.  The Hunger Games was really good although the writing at times was not as exact as it could have been.

So, Catching Fire was all everybody raved about – excellent scenery, beautifully creative costumes and make-up, and filled with suspense, brutality, intrigue, and emotion.  It seemed to follow the story line of the book closely enough.  The first hour of the movie didn’t feel at all as if it was dragging as I remembered when reading the book.  The scenes in the dome and the new characters seemed to fit, except for Sam Claflin who played the role of Finnick.  He just didn’t cut it for me physically.  I’d imagined a different guy.  Not to mention, the dubbed voices were terrible, especially Joanna’s.  Her voice was squeaky and high-pitched.  Strange!  I couldn’t find a cinema near me that was showing it in English, so I had to watch it dubbed in French.  Jennifer Lawrence’s acting was well-rounded and believable.  The scene I preferred the most was the last-minute of the movie with the tight image of Katniss’s face and the change of expressions from fear to sadness and then to rage – excellent way to end part 2.  Now what I’m not so keen on is that they are making 2 movies for Mockingjay.  Why?  What’s this some kind of formula for adapting YA novels to cinema?  The last novel always has to be made into two films.  That is definitely not a good idea.  I feel a dud coming on…

10. The Hunger Games

This trilogy has sat on my shelf for at least a year.  I’ve meant to get to it.  Really.  My oldest daughter grabbed it off the shelf during the winter break holidays and devoured the first two books in 6 days.  She usually doesn’t read big books in English.  She’s a manga fan, and she reads them in French.  She had to hold back not to talk about the details of these books because I didn’t want her to spoil it for me.  So, here I am finally getting down to it.  Frankly, it was worth it!  I  started the second part Catching Fire today….

The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen and she lives in the US in the future which has been turned into something other than what we know today.  People are maintained in districts, which they are not allowed to leave.  They are controlled by the Capitol.  In the Capitol, people are wealthy, eat well, and essentially live easy frivolous and much too comfortable lives.  Every year, twenty-four youths between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen to fight to death for the good of their district.  The good is food and other things that some districts are lacking, but most of all it’s to keep the districts from rebelling.  Katniss decides to take the place of her twelve-year-old sister who is unfortunately chosen the first year her name is put in.  Primrose is young, small, and is utterly ill-equipped to compete in such a competition.  Katniss and Prim come from District 12, where there are coal mines.  The majority of District 12 citizens are very poor and don’t have enough food to satisfy their hunger.

The Hunger Games is a very suspenseful well written story.  The anticipation of how the game will continue is more interesting than who wins in the end.  Katniss is a very likeable and clever character who is a gifted hunter with a bow and arrow.  She also knows how to gather herbs and set snares to catch rabbits.  The other contestants each have their strengths and weaknesses that bring lots of intrigue to the major events of the story and you just can’t stop reading until the end.  Trilogies sometimes tire me out but I’m looking forward to discovering the end of part two and to eventually finish part three.

Suzanne Collins has managed to construct a reality show with a twist.  It’s quite violent  but I guess it’s no worse than what adolescents watch on television and internet these days.  The movie opened in France last Wednesday and I was unsure about seeing it.  With all the complexities and things to explain, I really couldn’t see how they would do this movie correctly.  Needless to say, we decided to see it last Sunday afternoon.  We were only fifteen minutes into the movie and my daughter and I were already disappointed.  Even though, I tried to enjoy the escape of the movies, anyway.  One major default with this movie is that it’s mostly from the point of view of the Gamemakers where the book is from the contestants’ view.  I think that’s what keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.

Collins has written on children’s television shows since 1991.  She’s also worked on the staff of several Nickelodeon shows.  She met writer, James Proimos while working on a children’s show called Generation O!.  He convinced her to begin writing books for children.  She first wrote a five-part series called The Underland Chronicles, a fantasy/war series.  From there she wrote The Hunger Games Trilogy, which was on the USA Today’s bestseller list for over 134 weeks.  The question is:  What will Suzanne Collins write next to top that?