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So recently I:
1) Read The Hunger Games
2) Went and saw the movie in the theater
3) Watched Battle Royale, the Japanese film from a few years back with some eerily similar plot elements

The book was fantastic but totally gave me bad dreams, in addition to making an entire weekend feel VERY INTENSE because every little thing you're doing gives you the feeling that it could get you killed or worse. Then I saw the preview for the movie and just got crazy excited for it. So Marc and I left Josie with some friends and went for a movie date, first one since before she was born I think!

The movie was an excellent adaptation. I really liked the added information, the book is so purely Katniss' point of view you don't know what else is going on, stuff just happens. The riot in District 11 was totally not in the book, but totally WONDERFUL, so much more fulfilling than a "thanks for the kindness" loaf of bread gift.

I was sad that they didn't show just how starving the kids were. Peeta's act of kindness, where he threw the bread to Katniss in the rain, didn't seem like that big a deal. In the book it saved her life, in the movie it's just sort of an encounter they had. This might be a big part of why Peeta seems a lot less endearing in the movie, Marc has a bad habit of talking in movie theaters and was practically shouting "OH PLEASE KILL HIM! DEAD WEIGHT! DEAD WEIGHT! KILL HIM!" (maybe that's why I don't see many movies with my husband... I always worry about him getting his ass kicked).

There's a great scene in the beginning of the book where Effie compliments Katniss on her table manners, and quips about how uncivilized last year's tributes were, and Katniss immediately puts down her fork and wipes her fingers on the tablecloth. It's appalling that Effie would focus on the table manners of two kids who were not only violently killed, but had "never lived a day in their life with enough food". It's that kind of naive ambivalence that makes you hate the Capital citizens so much.

Also, the most disturbing thing in the book to me, the part that literally gave me nightmares, was TOTALLY left out of the movie, and that's the part where the nasty dogs at the end are the dead tributes, genetically modified and brought back to life as these mutants. It's such an abomination, like where Katniss recognizes Rue's eyes on the dog with 11 on the collar, it stuck with me for days. Maybe it was too hard to show in a movie, or maybe it would have made the gamemaker seem more evil than they wanted him to be... he wasn't really a character in the books and ends up being just another victim, we're supposed to like him.

Anyway the next day Marc and I watched Battle Royale because it's also about teenagers fighting to the death, and it's supposed to be this deep allegory about war, but I didn't really get it. To me it seemed empty, just a bunch of kids slashing each other up. In this movie the kids are all in the same class and have known each other forever, so there's some interesting "who are your friends, who have you always hated, who can you trust" sorts of dynamics. But there's not much detail about the society that's making them fight, it doesn't seem like they're on a big TV show, it's like that one crazy teacher is punishing them or something. I think it would take a tremendous amount of imagination to go from there to Hunger Games, which is really about a society that prioritizes reality television above recognizing the value of a human life.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2012 11:40 am (UTC)
I think Battle Royale is mostly about the futility of war, as well as the raw, bloody viciousness of it. It has none of the nobility-of-purpose or other redeeming things often seen in war films. I agree that it is not much like the Hunger Games.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 11:54 am (UTC)
I could see the faces being on the dogs as being laughably cheesy on film, so maybe that's why they didn't do it.

I was upset they left out the part where Katniss drugs Peeta, but other than that, I was pretty happy with the way it stayed true to the book while still cutting out the dead weight. I agree the riot was better than bread.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
I read the books and also liked the Hunger Games movie. There was definitely a lot that was glossed over because you just can't fit everything into a movie format. The only thing that really bothered me is that they didn't have time to really develop all the tribute characters, so when you saw their pictures in the sky each night it was like, "Wait, who was that?" and trying to keep track of who was still alive. I also felt like a lot of Katniss' motives weren't clear without the introspection that the first-person book provides, like what she was feeling about Peeta and Gale, her flashbacks to the Peeta bread incident, and her memories of home.

A lot of people complained about getting motion sickness from the shaky camera work in the beginning (District 12 before and during the reaping) but it didn't really affect me. *shrug*
Apr. 3rd, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen the movie, but I thought the bit about the dogs at the end of the book seemed really out of place...
Apr. 3rd, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
You did not have a problem that the first 30+ minutes were filmed by strapping cameras to squirrels? That movie made me violently ill from the motion.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
The muttations at the end weren't LITERALLY the dead tributes reanimated. Katniss thought so because she was meant to, but it was just yet another sick mind game. This becomes slightly clearer IMO in Catching Fire during a not entirely dissimilar incident with Mockingjays. I think there's even a line in the Mockingjay where she reflects back to those dogs and mentions that they weren't REALLY those kids.

As for the Battle Royale comparisons, I just write it off to some people having to be dismissive of anything that gets popular. If you don't think there's a strong case for comparison reading just the first book, keep going. The comparison gets even weaker.

The whole tribute thing is more likey based on the Theseus and the Minotaur myth, where Crete demanded 7 male and 7 female tributes to be sent to sacrifice.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Apparently she got the idea from flicking TV channels between the X Factor and footage of the Iraq war.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Sure, for the game aspect specifically. Mainly I'm trying to illustrate that "Battle Royale" isn't this amazing original idea that the critics would have you believe either :)
Apr. 3rd, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Also, the riot in district 11 is from the second book.
Apr. 8th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
I still haven't seen The Hunger Games, not for lack of wanting to see it, but for lack of a desire to go to the movies.

I'm bummed that they left out the muttations at the end. Those things definitely gave me the willies.

"entire weekend feel VERY INTENSE because every little thing you're doing gives you the feeling that it could get you killed or worse"

I call this the Final Destination Feeling, because of how even the most innocuous item can kill you in the movie.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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