Whenever a book is adapted into a movie, there are always things that get cut. Fans of “The Hunger Games” know that well, as several details were changed or removed from the movie, the biggest of which is the fact that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) still has two legs, when he should have lost one. With the second movie in the franchise, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” creeping up, word is starting to come out about the changes being made to that story as well.
The following contains spoilers from the book “Catching Fire.” Read no further if you don’t want to see that kind of thing.
It’s already been said that the characters of Bonnie, Twill, and Peacekeeper Darius have all been axed, along with the notion that Peeta can’t swim. Each of those elements leaves small holes in the plot that will need to be rectified somewhere in the story. The most obvious being: How did Peeta learn to swim without access to water? Of course, they could also simply ignore that question.
Another change that has been revealed has more ramifications than you might think. According to the Fall Movie Preview issues of Entertainment Weekly, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) will not injure herself when jumping over the electrified fence surrounding her district.
That might not sound like it will cause a major shift in the story, but the scenes that follow that moment are important. Katniss returns home injured to find peacekeepers in her house, with her sister, mother, Haymitch and Peeta. She lies about her whereabouts, while joking around with her extended family. While still tense, that portion of the story provides one of the few moments of true levity in the series, as the family jokes about her sister’s goat and playfully mocks Katniss. It humanizes the characters in a way that doesn’t include a fight to the death.
Her being hurt also develops the characters of Katniss and Peeta, as she is placed on bed rest due to her injuries. During that time, she and Peeta get closer, outside of the Hunger Games. He spends his free time with her as they work on her mother’s book of plants and herbs, and they are able to become true friends without the threat of the Capitol hanging over their heads.
Based on the direction of the story, it’s important to show these two as friends, instead of simply people who survived together. Their relationship plays an important part in the narrative going into “Mockingjay.”
That’s not to say the movie won’t find a way around some of these moments, maybe even creating alternate versions. Director Francis Lawrence worked with author Suzanne Collins on the movie’s outline before handing it over to Michael Arndt (“Star Wars: Episode VII”) to turn into a screenplay. However, hearing that some of these events, which may not be as dazzling to the eye as the bigger action sequences, won’t be seen in the movie is disheartening.
At the end of the day, you can’t release a 10-hour movie in theaters, so something has to get cut. Is focusing on the action at the expense of character development the right way to go, though?
It won’t take long to find out. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is in theaters November 22.