'Hunger Games' Movie Thrills Book Fans But What About Everyone Else? (VIDEO)

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I went to see The Hunger Games this weekend, and call me crazy, but I think it's safe to say I wasn't the only one—the movie raked in an astounding $155 million, including $20 million just on its first night in theaters. Hunger Games hasn't been without its detractors, but overall it's not only been a commercial smash hit (third-best domestic debut in the history of movies!), it's been a critical success too, with an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an "A" via CinemaScore.

Personally, I loved it. I mean, I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I clapped at the end. My husband, however, thought it was "pretty good."

Now, my husband is a man of sometimes-dubious taste (for instance, he's a big fan of a TV show called The Joy of Fishing), but based on some of his questions during the film, I wonder if those who didn't read the book had a different—and sometimes confused—take on the movie

Here are some of the sotto voce conversations we had during Hunger Games (oddly enough our theater was nearly empty at 6:15 on Friday, so we could whisper a bit without disturbing anyone):

(Warning: if you haven't seen the movie, spoilers ahead!)

When we first see the Capitol citizens en masse

My husband: "So are they all ... punk rockers, or something?"

In the book, the people in the Capitol are very refined, very rich, and very vain. They love adornments, from crazy ornate eyelash extensions to neon-hued fashion. Is it obvious in the movie that the Capitol is the polar opposite from the working-class Districts that serve it? Yes, and also it seems obvious that one of the main visual differences (aside from architecture and food) between the groups is the luxury of being able to focus on style, but maybe all those freaky hairstyles and whatnot comes across as pointlessly weird to a non-fan?

During the Games, when we see Gale watching the Peeta/Katniss footage with a pained expression

My husband: "Who the hell cares what that guy thinks?"

Okay, it's true that Gale doesn't exactly have a hugely starring role in the movie. The love triangle aspect of the book is pretty much missing altogether in the film, which I was perfectly happy with—it was never my favorite part anyway. It would have been impossible to include every single character nuance and storyline in a two-hour film, so if someone was going to get short-changed, I'm not sorry it was Gale. (Give me Cinna and Haymitch over Gale any day.) However, I can see how it might seem a bit odd for filmgoers totally unfamiliar with the original story—like, why do we keep checking in to see how this somewhat random brown-haired guy is reacting to the Games?

During the cave scene with Peeta and Katniss

My husband: "Okay, I don't get it. Does she really love him? Or what?"

I just read a review somewhere that dissed Jennifer Lawrence's ability to show affection for Peeta in the film, and I wonder if anyone new to the book didn't fully understand that Katniss was tasked with playing up the star-crossed lovers angle for the sponsors. Later she becomes confused by her feelings for Peeta, but in the midst of the Games she's focused on surviving, not mooning over bread boy. In the movie, it's clear enough that Peeta truly loves Katniss, but I don't know if everyone got the fact that she was faking a romance, not falling headfirst into one.

Like I said, I absolutely loved the movie—even the things that were altered (Haymitch watching the Capitol children! Seneca Crane and the poisoned berries! Snow's conversations in the rose garden, which created a tidy prelude for Catching Fire! The tracker jacker-induced flashback!). But then again, I really, really loved the book—maybe it was harder to fall for the movie without knowing the backstory.

Check out this coverage about The Hunger Games' record weekend:

Do you think The Hunger Games was potentially confusing at all for those who never read the book?

Image via IMDB



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Sidthe Sidthe

My friends who didn't read it had some questions...but now they're both reading the book so... But they both thought it was a good movie. I prepared them explaining as much about the districts and the basic premises as best I could without giving anything away before hand.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

I thought it was seriously lacking in depth. I really felt like the only reason I knew what was going on - at all - was because I had read the books. They do nothing to make us really care about any character other than Katniss - and Peeta...a little. All in all, I think they glossed over a little bit too much to make it a true representation of the world and spent far too little time on character development.
That being said...what would I have cut out to add in more substance? Nothing. They didn't focus on the wrong things, they simply didn't do enough.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I gave my son a quick primer before we went to see it, basically that the government makes each area send two teenagers to the games each year to fight to the death. He got it. The only question he had during the movie was when they brought up the beasts near the end to the games and he asked how they did that. The plot didn't confuse him at all.

Liz Muia Frost

Yeah, my husband was a bit confused by some things since he hadn't read the books.  He's also a game designer and some things about the Games themselves made him mad.  Now he's going to read the books to see if it was Collins' fault or the movie's.  :)

cassi... cassie_kellison

I read the books, loved them, and I was very pleasantly surprised with how good the movie was. But, I read the books, so I was able to fill in any blanks. My husband asked so many questiones throughout the movie I almost moved away from him! haha He said it was good, but he felt like something was missing, so I spent the whole car ride home explaining things to him.

nonmember avatar Anon

I haven't read the books, but I went to see the movie with some diehard Hunger Games fans. I really, really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. The characters and the plot all seemed really flat, to the point of being boring at times. I think you really need to read the books to get the "full" experience, which sort of defeats the purpose of making a movie adaptation, IMHO.

mellynnf mellynnf

My husband hadn't read the books and so he had a couple questions as well, but he enjoyed it and followed the story for the most part.  The biggest thing that stumped him was the dogs, but after I explained that the Capital often mutated animals and used them against people he got it.

Natalie Cole Watson

I read the books and love them and I just can't get past all the things that were left out of the movie that made the books so incredibly good!  My husaband didn't read the books and he thought the movie was just "okay."  It's impossible to get everything in from the books so maybe I should just stop seeing the movies that come out after the books because most of the time it's disappointing to me.

Payton Irwin

I was really upset with the way the ending was changed in the movie. I do agree, though, that the movie would probably not be as fun for people that haven't read the book.

Momma... Momma2blessed

I didn't read the book and got all that you described just fine from watching the movie... its not rocket science. It was an ok movie but I can see how book fans would get more enjoyment out of it.

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