For the most part, Gary Ross‘ adaptation of “The Hunger Games” remains ultra faithful to the books. Katniss Everdeen has not turned into a gorgeous glamazon incapable of getting dirt under her nails or breaking a sweat — aside from the natural beauty associated with being played by the gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence, of course. Gale isn’t suddenly the third, bonus tribute from District 12.
Fans should be happy with the respectful film version of their favorite book about teenagers fighting to the death — but the film is not without its creative liberties.
Some things have to change to turn a book into a movie — that’s just the reality of the business. Five pages of exposition aren’t necessary when a five-second shot will do. Ross has added a few key things to his movie that should only enhance the cinematic “Hunger Games” experience — hopefully the most faithful fans will realize that the changes were necessary and done with an expert hand.
The biggest and best adjustment from the book to the screen is the increased presence of Wes Bentley‘s Seneca Crane, the Head Gamemaker of the 74th annual Hunger Games, and his magnificent beard. Since the book is told from Katniss’ point of view, we never entered Crane’s world outside of his interactions with the female District 12 tribute. And of course we didn’t see the Hunger Games control room, which Ross intersperses throughout the movie for insight into how this thing is run, substituting interesting scenes in place of Katniss’ book narration.
Not only is this change handled extremely well, it’s necessary. Spoiler alert — the character (and the Gamemakers in general) play a much larger role in “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay,” so adding them to “The Hunger Games” will do a great deal for continuity between the movies.
Other things we noticed included the very first scene — the movie opens up with Caesar Flickman interviewing Crane, an interaction that doesn’t appear in the books but fits nicely into the movie — and the less-than-literal timeline of the events that occur in the games themselves.
What was your favorite book-to-movie change? Were there changes you didn’t like?