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.