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