The Spoiler Free Movie Review:
Panem's Dark Days brought about the 'Hunger Games' as punishment for the people rising against the Capitol. A "Reaping" in each of the 12 Districts, selects a boy and a girl, children between 12 and 18, as "tributes" to fight to the death in a nationwide televised event.
This may bring to mind the 1999 Japanese manga and movie 'Battle Royale', which it shares more than a few similarities with.
However, the difference is in the full story of the series, which follows Katniss Everdeen's struggle to protect everything she holds dear.
The movie, with it's PG-13 rating, manages to translate well into film and not be overly childish and sugarcoat what should never be sugarcoated: The waste of human life.
Major changes mostly had to do with time of day. Most scenes in the book, took place at night or at dawn or dusk, are changed to day I understand that was a logical choice when it comes to an audience.
The book also uniquely tells the story in first person, from Katniss' point of view.
The mindset of a teenage girl afraid and awkward about how to do things that come naturally to others, is sometimes a jumbled mess of emotions, that because I was reading it, conveyed her confusion to the reader.
In viewing the movie, we can see things that she could not. Cutaway scenes allowed other characters to have input that make what she can't see obvious and cuts back on screen time that would be a waste if we left Katniss to figure it out enough to do something about it.
Other slight changes, they nodded to characters having knowledge of in the first place, or commentators explaining to the Hunger Game audience.
Little changes that should not upset readers.
And for those that read the book, I cried when I knew I would.
When we left, there were 9 school buses parked outside. I knew kids were coming to see this with their schools because they love the story.
Books Review (some minor spoilers ahead):
I found it frustrating that Suzzane Collins ended just about every chapter with a cliffhanger.
I would very much need to put the book down, but felt compelled not to because I needed to know what happened next.
Her decision to write the story from Katniss' perspective frustrated me more with how thick and hot-headed she could be. A teenager that does things drastic and does not think of the consequences until the full repercussions hit her broadside. Damage control is clumsy, but with good intentions that usually fall well short of her plans.
Readers see the author paint a big picture that Katniss can't perceive, but the reader does.
It's a bit masterful to have a character that may overlook details the readers see and wish to warn her of.
Being in Katniss' head the whole story, you do get a sort of a detachment. People can die around her, and she has little time to comprehend it. She moves on quickly as a matter of survival. It is lucky for Katniss that she has unintentionally caused such a stir in the oppressed of Panem that she has the support of a nation rallying behind her.
Collins wrote the whole story, as violent as it could be at times, without a scrap of profanity or vulgarity. This I found refreshing. Considering the nature of the situation, F-bombs never dropped. Katniss also doesn't bed with anyone for all three books. She is afraid of bringing a child into a world like this, and that shows that she has some foresight and sense of responsibility.
You could liken it to Harry Potter, somewhat, a life forfeit to save another. A train ride arriving at a wondrous place filled with both curiosities and danger. Allies found among enemies and vice versa. Illusions and uprisings.
There is also the obvious comparison to Twilight (which I haven't read, but everything I have seen makes me gag).
I am going to stop you right there and let you know the difference between these two girls is Substance.
Bella falling for Edward and Jacob, and Katniss' delimia with Gale and Peeta is that while both are selfish teenagers, Bella is passive, bland paste that is far outshone (or outsparkled), by either. She had no aspirations in life. A girl who is nothing without these males in her life to look out for her.
Katniss has a childhood friend and the baker's son who was reaped into the Games with her. There is nothing remarkable about any of them. However, they see each other's worth. Katniss sees this too, and her problem for all three books is that even as the situation becomes dire, as with her sister, she is willing to go to great lengths to protect her ever growing circle of people she loves. The two boys who are vying for -her- attention, speak well of each other, respect each other as one would a good friend. It is no wonder she is confused. The possibility of love isn't really addressed until well into the second book. The decision came down to simple honestly with herself.
(Minor spoilers ahead)
In the second book "Catching Fire", the Captiol is having issues with uprisings. Uprisings that have perceived the desperate actions of Katniss Everdeen to be a call for civil war. To stem this tide, the Capitol casts her into the arena again, where she is expected to die or be broken in the process. This time, however, she finds more allies to her cause. In the end, she finally comes to face the devastating effect of her rebellious actions.
By the time the third book, "Mockingjay," she is now become the face of an uprising. She is being used for propaganda both for and against the Capitol. The plot twists sharply when she realizes, at great cost, who the real enemy is.
I recommend this as a definite "Watch/Read", this Spring.
Cause Fire is catching.