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Hypable

Before I commence this piece I feel the need to put a quick disclaimer on it – do not get me wrong, I love the Hunger Games and what Gary Ross did with it. Also, like every other fan, I’m panicking about who is going to replace him.

That being said, I’m glad he left.

I understand that is a little on the contrary to what I said right at the beginning. I, like many, think Gary Ross did a great book-to-film adaptation. One of the best I’ve ever seen. However, the only people who can claim that are those that have read the books. For those that haven’t read the books, it was just a film set in a dystopian time where kids are forced to kill other kids for entertainment.

The basis for my argument stems from a conversation I overheard by the two ladies who sat opposite me on the train yesterday. It went like this:

Woman 1: That Hunger Games is a bit Twilight-y isn’t it? Who do you prefer, Peeta or that other one?
Woman 2: Well Peeta’s there all the time, you don’t see the other one much. Did you like it?
Woman 1: I was falling asleep really. It was good but nothing like, made me sit up and pay attention. I went with Tom and he said the books are better. I’m going to read them.

While half of this made my blood boil, half made me chuckle to myself, it definitely got me thinking. I ended up chatting to them later and expressed my personal concerns with the film – essentially that the idealism of the Capitol in contrast to the harshness of many of the districts was glossed over. In talking about this, I explained about the genetic mutations and experiments – the mockingjays, tracker jackers and the mutts specifically – which I didn’t feel were explained well in the film.

The woman who had watched it the night before said that she didn’t get any of that from the film – she thought the mutts were vicious wild dogs, and that she hadn’t understood the tracker jackers at the time. She also said she would have felt much more of an emotional connection to the end if the mutts did in fact have the eyes of the dead tributes.

Similarly, a friend told me an anecdote about when their friend watched it, who similarly had not read the book, and he also had the same concerns. She had to furiously explain the concept of the tracker jackers and the mutts to him, as while watching the film he found the notion “completely ridiculous.”

And this is my problem with Mr Ross. No, I’m not throwing my rattle out of the pram. I know they can’t include everything and I wouldn’t expect them to. Personally, I feel The Hunger Games film introduced the world, the characters and the concepts in a very beautiful, dignified, subtle way. It was perfect for those viewers who were already part of the fandom. It certainly made a lot of people I know want to read the books. For the rest – well it seems like it was up to us to fill the gaps.

Maybe Catching Fire needs a bit more spark, excuse the pun, if it’s going to keep up the momentum with the regular moviegoer.

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  • Jason

    I wouldn’t blame Ross for the audience’s confusion. If they need their narrative spoon-fed to then they chose the wrong film. You should see how confused people get after watching the Harry Potter films- it IS possible to understand them without reading the book, but modern audiences are too lazy to actual pay attention to the films. 

    • hpatdh33

      Exactly, you have to think in this movie otherwise you won’t catch everything.  Thats not the filmmakers fault, audiences are just lazy now.  Honestly if you pay attention to every Potter film they make sense.  I have a friend that watched the first 6 in a week then saw part 1 with me and later saw part 2 and he never asked for any clarification.  The information is all there, you just have to think.

    • Claire

      I agree with all of this. They did an amazing job of including everything in a manner that wasn’t shoved down your throat. If people didn’t understand things they probably weren’t paying close attention.

  • Bernardotriana

    Im glad he left only because: NO MORE SHACKY CAMARA!!! (I hope…)  

    • tiddles

      some of the shots were good… but I know of many who got motion sickness and had to leave the theater!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Rex/100003224841100 Anthony Rex

    I know numerous people, family and friends, who had never read the book before and loved the movie. As for the Tracker Jackers, they may not have explained where they came from (the history) of them. But, they at least briefly explained what they were. So, there is some take and give going on. I will never be okay with the constant changing of crews though.

    “the idealism of the Capitol in contrast to the harshness of many of the districts was glossed over.”

    Partially, but that feel does seem to come in the later installments much more than it does in the first book. The victory parade, getting to know the past winners, etc.

  • Tyler

    I don’t understand how someone would be confused about the tracker jackers. They literally pulled away from the freaking scene, and Caesar looked right at the audience and said what they were, and what they did!

  • rdh014

    I love new visions of things and I’m sure the new director will bring something special. I loved Gary Ross’ adaptation and I expect his predecessor to put in as much time and care into the next film. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045615098 Riana-Tiana Menezes

      Don’t you mean successor? 

  • gcw07

    I understand maybe not understanding the mutts were genetically engineered, but they flat out explained the tracker jackers. They cut away and said word for word what it was. As for knowing all those things are genetically engineered, does it really make a difference to the story? Say they were just wild dogs, does that really change anything about them chasing Katniss and Peeta? The mutts were in the movie less then 5 minutes, I really didn’t care one bit if they had the eyes of the tributes because even if they did you wouldn’t have seen it unless they stopped the movie and did a close up on the dogs and that would have totally taken you out of the chase and the moment.

    While I wanted Ross to return, my concern isn’t so much with him not returning as much as I don’t think anybody that does it has enough time to really do CF justice.

  • tiddles

    Another thing…. although I found the camerawork very exciting (the constant movement) I’ve found that a lot of people who have motion sickness couldn’t sit through the movie, my mom included, she had to leave within the first ten minutes.  Since the book appeals to an older crowd as well as young people, and many in both age groups do get motion sickness, it cuts them out of seeing it.  some of the shots were beautiful, such as Rue’s POV while Katniss was singing… I’ve never seen that done before and it was very cool. but they need to consider keeping the cameras on more steady mounts.

    • Rivara

      I think the same. The parts where it was appropriate, I enjoyed the camerawork immensely, but it was a little bit too much to be dragged along like this all the time. It would have benefited the narrative to have different characters (and different moods/states of the characters!) have different camerawork.

      I’d imagine Effie would look at the world completely differently than, say, Peeta or Katniss or Haymitch when he’s sober or Haymitch when he’s drunk. Steady, panoramic shots would work for self-assured and arrogant people, for example.

      There really is much more that could have been done.

  • DK

    Here is my worry…Gary Ross created this world and, to me, he created it using the filming techniques that he did, which includes the shaky cam. The shake represented an unstable feeling in the world of Panem. A world where nothing was sitting right with the people of that world. And that’s true. The games were not supported by the people. The Capitol had more, the country was unbalanced, the people were on the brink of retaliation. Everytime I’ve watched the film (3 times so far), this is what I’ve felt. I never once saw the shake as a way to cover the violence and gore to make the film kid friendly, as many have stated. It never created that feeling for me.

    The other technique that I like to notice when I watch the film is the use of extreme closeups. For me, it places the characters ina tight box with no room to move. In essence, they are trapped. I loved this feeling, because The Capitol has trapped each and every one of them. There is no escape. In the Reaping, the camera even appears to jostle the children, telling them where to go, pushing them in the right direction. They don’t get to think. The camera/Capitol thinks for them.

    These are the two main factors that make me very upset that a new director is coming in. I feel like the new director is going to have his/her own vision. The problem is, I don’t need a new vision. I know what the world looks like. Gary showed me. Any other vision will feel foreign and disconnected. And I really don’ t want that.

    To me, Catching Fire needs to stick with the vision and techniques that were introduced in the Hunger Games. A new director can’t change things. It’s there and it needs to stay.

    The Hunger Games is the greatest movie that I’ve ever seen. Others may disagree, but never have I left a theater feeling so emotionally drained and captivated, and anticipating a sequel, like I did with this film. I just don’t want to see that end after one movie.

    • 7Starrchasers

      Extremely well said!!

    • Rivara

      I get what you’re saying but I don’t think a new director means that everything will be changed. The first director will set the standards and tone for the entire saga, like it or not.

      Overall, the response to the camerawork has been favorable and they won’t ditch what worked in the first movie, but I’d like to see the approch be a little bit different for the next book as the main character is different.

      In THG Katniss is poor and hungry and average. In the second book/film she has come to her own more and her future is set and her family is now wealthy and she’s a celebrity. Until she is *spoiler!* sent back into the meatgrinder, she’s in a completely different place than before the Games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045615098 Riana-Tiana Menezes

    I agree with everything you said in this article. The movie was great, no doubt, but I wanted it to be ‘Epic’. It needed something more.

    When I was watched it, I felt, especially during the games, there was no real urgency and danger – It felt very distant.
    And I think the major reason for that was because the background music was very lame. The music is supposed to engage the person in the story; for the action sequences there should have been something a lot more urgent and thrilling; for the the emotional scenes there should have been more depth to the music; and when Katniss is just roaming around in the woods, the music should have intrigued the viewer to know what she will do next, it needed a lot more suspense.

    Overall, the score of the movie was very disappointing (for me at least). 

    • yui

      Its interesting to read something stating the opposite of how i felt when i watched the movie. 

      i actually was very engaged with what was happening to Katniss because i felt I was there with her. 

      i believe a really good score is something that would not Dictate me on what should i feel rather It Should complement what is happening on the screen in a way that it must NOT overpower or does more than what is shown. *hearing the forest sounds makes me feel like im in a forest, not watching a movie. and its scarier that way. hearing just the birds, some twigs, echoes and then the rest in their “silence” = unknown.*
      i believe the score is supposed to deliver to the viewers/audience by bringing out the beauty of the Principal/Main material (the visuals) in a way that it would not LEAD but complement. (it is like when you’re listening to a song, the movie is the lead vocals and the score is the voices in the background.)i guess subtlety works for me and it takes another kind for the others. :)

  • Ken

    I have my own reasons for being glad that Gary Ross won’t be directing the next film, but in any case, your complaints seem to be based on plot holes. The way I see it, Gary Ross didn’t write the script and therefore can’t be blamed for any story problems.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045615098 Riana-Tiana Menezes

      The script was a written by Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins.

  • applepie

    I don’t know how stupid those ladies were, but my parents, friends’ parents, classmates, grandparents, and friends that all saw the movie that hadn’t read the book LOVED it. It also got 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. 2 random ladies on a train isn’t enough to make a huge accusation like that.

    • Hermione A

      I think that was just used as an example to help his argument.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lilliempeterson Lillie Marie Peterson

        You two kill me.

  • 0bsess3d__

     Well if you think about it (i know i shouldnt compare to twilight) but! The first twilight movie had a director and then each movie after that got better based on different director perspectives etc. So a new director could bring something new to the games that we havent seen yet.

  • Gary65

    I think any HG fan who says they don’t have issues with the film is lying to themselves. yes, the film was good but the berry scene, and Peeta’s scenes in general, could have been so much better. Plus, they cut the fauxmance explanation and the mutt explanation entirely, which pissed me off tbh.

    • Ngoc

      OMG FINALLY SOMEONE WHO AGREES WITH ME!!!! I felt like the only fan on the planet disppaointed by the movie – not as a whole, but just because Peeta’s scenes were done horribly & a lot of the more touching scenes – Rue’s death, the berry scenes etc. were kinda glossed over & had the shock factor taken out of them.

  • http://about.me/dshana Shana Debusschere

    I disagree about the mutts.. I don’t know, I feel like it’s not a problem that you should read the book to get that explanation.. Regular moviegoers probably don’t care that much.. 

  • Hotchocolate389

    I thought he did a wonderful job on the movie. And i’m so sad he is leaving.

  • Caroline

    I don’t think that the not understanding the Tracker Jackers was the director’s fault. They did have that dialouge with Caesar Flickerman (‘now, for those of you who don’t know, tracker jackers are genetically altered wasps…)

    Other than that, I am glad that they are getting a new director. Possibly someone who knows what a tri-pod is?

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