Dystopian Review: Hunger Games Series & Movies

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I waited to write a Dystopian Review of The Hunger Games trilogy until the last movie had come out. That way I could look at all angles of the story. And now….the saga has ended. The dust has settled. So here we go.

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The Hunger Games

BOOK

The first book was my introduction to dystopian. I didn’t know what the book was about — all I knew was that my sister told me to read it. So I did. In 8 hours. The story is fascinating and, while the concept is heartbreaking and centered around violence, it didn’t get too graphic. I found the first person POV writing intense and engrossing. Though Katniss was a survival-woman, it made sense to her culture.

MOVIE

Personally, I think this was the weakest movie of the four, though they cast it perfectly. I’m sure it was hard to deliver a concept without toeing the “rated R” line. But something was missing — the gripping inside scoop to Katniss’s personality, I think. And there was a little cheesiness with the wolf mutts at the end. Still, even with the cheesiness and certain weaknesses, I watched it multiple times…and cried multiple times. I found the movie appropriately rated and delivered solidly.

Catching Fire

BOOK

This book gripped me a little less. Maybe that’s because, at the time, I really wanted Katniss to end up with Gale and she was stuck in the arena with Peeta. And…there was a lot more kissing. *shrug* Whatever the case, this book stepped up the intensity level, getting a little more violent and digging in to the dark side of the Games aftermath. I don’t like when stories start feeling dark or depressing. And this one certainly got there with the punishments and oppression from the Capitol.

MOVIE

I was blown away.

Seriously. Guys. This movie. The acting. I was in shock! It was like the actors stepped it up to an entire new level of professionalism. The movie tamed down some of the violence and gore from the book, yet accentuated the adventure side of things. Just talking about it makes me want to go rewatch it. And write. And be inspired. I highly recommend this movie.

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Mockingjay

BOOK

Now we really get down to it. I hated this book.

Let me put it this way: When I finished reading it for the first time, I threw it. Against the wall. And didn’t care that it got dented. This book is one main reason I grew excited about the movies, because I hoped that the movies would redeem it for me.

What made it horrible?

  • The violence. I reread the book in preparation for Mockingjay part 1, and it made me physically ill. I don’t plan to ever read it again. Maybe I’m just squeamish, but I don’t like violence or seemingly pointless death.
  • The hopelessness. Katniss lost hope and she became this harsh, unrelatable person I didn’t want to spend time with. Even when she got a semi-happy ending by the conclusion of the book, it was delivered in a depressing manner.
  • The author’s distraction. I felt that, in this book, Suzanne Collins was more set on imparting the message that war is violent, evil, and scarring, that she forgot to look for the hope in something so realistic and harsh. Because there is hope, and I never felt it in the book.

MOVIES

REDEMPTION! Phew! The book is split into two movies and done very well. Albeit, these movies have an extremely different feel from the first two — they’re slower, Katniss is changed, and the plot gets darker. But the movies managed to capture that nugget of hope that the book didn’t. I told one of my writer friends, I’d re-watch Mockingjay Part 2 all over again just for the ending (and because when I watched it on Saturday, we were stuck in the very front row and I think I need to just go see it again from a normal seat.)

While the books were gory, the movies had the same amount of action and violence as Catching Fire, which I felt kept it an appropriate PG-13.

Conclusion

These books are powerful, and that can be a dangerous thing. They inspired me to write a dystopian series with hope in it, and the series has caused me to chew on many thoughts.

The movies were done right. I can’t think of how they could have been done better, so cheers to the directors and the people behind it all.

 

Have you read the books or watched the movies? What did or didn’t you like?

 



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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9 Comments

  1. I agree with you that book Mockingjay ended without hope, but I don’t fault it for that. How could they have had hope, when it was a world without a Christ to redeem mankind? The movie had a touch more hope–probably due in large part to cutting out all the wallowing Katniss did in the book!

    I was so impressed with the movies. I feel like the first one nailed the casting and the look, but they hadn’t found the voice or point of view for the story yet and so it suffered. After that they found their footing and did a truly fantastic job with the story. It feels like what really happened, whereas the books were only Katniss’s perspective.

  2. AAACK I loved these movies so much. It’s almost weird to say that I “like” a concept such as this — I mean kids killing kids? No thanks.
    But the “good versus evil” thread and wanting them to all rise together and fight the Capitol makes it so thrilling and epic. xD
    I want to go watch it again. Maybe multiple times. Ooh, a Hunger Games marathon would be awesome. 😄

    • I know exactly what you mean! I always felt weird telling people I loved the story. But it’s epic, and it’s real (despite the fact I HATE THE THIRD BOOK!) but the movies captured the hope in the darkness and the epic rise against oppression. 🙂 (We should totally do a marathon in sync together)

  3. I haven’t watched the Mockingjay movies yet because I hated, HATED the book for the reasons you mentioned. Couldn’t throw it against the wall cos I borrowed it from somebody but would’ve had I had the option, lol.

    However, I found the whole series to be a fascinating insight into the mind of the next generation. Whilst “The Giver” would’ve been my introduction to the dystopian genre, The Hunger Games books really opened my eyes to the hopelessness many young people feel about the future.

    Unfortunately, some Christians – who should be the one voice shouting, ‘there is a future, and it’s good! – perpetuate despair with their myriad doom-and-gloom, end-times scenarios.

    But that’s a total digression, so I’ll simply say thanks for another great review!

  4. It’s not often that a movie improves on a book! I haven’t seen the last flick yet. Hoping to soon!

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