I’m going to start off by saying that I didn’t read the book. I say that, because I feel that a major breaking point for this movie is if you have read the book or not, and it’s the main cause for most of my criticisms.
Mostly, I felt that the film was a little unfair to non-readers like me. Many characters and plotlines aren’t explained well enough for someone who didn’t get the full picture from the book. For example, the first thing on screen are two bodies of text that explain that the reason that these games are held to punish the common people for their rebellion in previous times. That’s all you get. The entire premise is explained in thirty seconds of text. We are never told why they rebelled. Well, I have to assume that it was because of the famine, maybe caused by the corrupt government. I can’t be sure, but I feel left out, and it bugs me.
Or, there are the several times when the main character Katniss flashes back to a time when another character, Peeta, threw a piece of bread to her. She was sitting in the muddy street looking very depressed when Peeta is seen walking out of the bakery he works at, with his mom slapping him in the face. Then he throws her the bread. So, why is this so important? Why should I care about this one insignificant moment? I later found out that Katniss was starving and searching through garbage because her father had died and her mother was too out of her mind to be able to bring home food for her family. Peeta had burned the bread on purpose just so that his mother would make him throw it out. When I was told this, all I could think was “Oh, wow. Why didn’t they just tell me that?”.
So, in my mind, that’s the filmmaker’s way of saying “Should’ve read the book! Then you’d know!”. Well, if you’re adapting a book to movie, it’s their job to make it enjoyable for non-readers like myself.
Another element of the movie that I was disappointed in was the amount of violence. This book and movie, are about a society where teenagers are corralled up and have to murder each other to survive. That’s the most shocking part of the story. It’s what makes these games so feared. It’s the most disturbing and most important part of the plot. Sadly, they showed minimal blood and used quick, shaky cuts to keep you from seeing anything. You end up forgetting that these are just kids, they’re innocence is completely being taken from them. The reason Golding’s Lord of the Flies is so disturbing is that he didn’t hold back, he made sure that you remembered that these are just kids and their innocence is being stolen from them.
Ultimately, I think this movie could have been easily fixed. Give me more of that violence. Give me a little more to go on with the story, and expand the back-stories of the characters. I want to be invested in the world that a film creates. I’m not going to mourn when a character dies that I didn’t know anything about.
Apart from all these things, I thought the movie was entertaining. It’s adventurous, it’s a classic good versus evil story. It has a few laughs here and there, and there’s some romance in there. It’s a fun ride.
But, it’s not amazing. It’s not genius. It doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s enjoyable, but flawed. So, I can only give it a seven out of ten.