CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On March 22, "The Hunger Games" premiered at midnight to high anticipation. Fans around the world packed into theaters, waiting for Katniss Everdeen to appear on the monstrous screen.
Avid fans of the books discussed how excited we were and how amazing we thought the movie was going to be. We all expected to sit in the theater for two hours, crying, smiling, laughing and jumping in our seats.
Instead, we were treated to a disappointing, cheesy re-enactment that director Gary Ross somehow thought portrayed the first of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" books well.
The movie, in a nutshell, lacked emotional depth. Ross ("Seabiscuit") spent too much time creating the contrast between the Capitol and the Districts and too little time on character development. Because of this, scenes that should have been emotional fell flat. For example, in the book, one character's death is heart wrenching, but in the movie, it felt like a mere side note. It was well filmed but not nearly as emotional as it should have been.
Also, I felt little connection between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth); they seemed like three kids who had just met a few days before. The relationship between Katniss and Peeta seemed cheesy and unconvincing as well; the actors and Ross did not adequately capture the bond that grows between them.
I didn't feel a lot of tension in the arena, either. Katniss simply walks through the forest, seemingly stepping on every twig she sees, and yet somehow she does not get killed. Really? This is unrealistic and does not follow the book at all. In the book, Katniss has basically lived her life in the woods; she is an excellent, stealthy hunter. Plus, when Cato snaps a fellow tribute's neck, Katniss is standing barely 10 feet away, but he fails to see her. How does that happen?
The movie left out so many important details, too. For example, after Katniss honors her fallen friend from another district, the movie completely ignores how that friend's district helps her. This is important because it foreshadows an alliance created in the other books.
Another important element in the book is the way the dogs at the end look; certain parts of their appearance show just how twisted the Capitol truly is. The dogs were in the movie, but their appearance should have made more of an impact than it did. Anyone who hadn't read the books was probably thinking, "What's up with the dogs?" Well, you won't know until you read the books.
When I read the books, I fell in love with the characters, but when I first heard about the casting, I was a little worried. I felt Woody Harrelson was wrong for the part of the drunken District 12 mentor, Haymitch. I was pleasantly surprised with him, though. He and Elizabeth Banks as Effie, the District 12 escort, were great; they added some much needed comedy to the movie.
I was more worried about the casting of Peeta. He is supposed to be big and burly, towering over Katniss, so she feels protected by him. Not only is Hutcherson way too short to be Peeta, but after seeing the movie, I also feel that perhaps he wasn't mature enough to take on all the emotions required of the character.
Of course, his and the others' bad acting might have been because of the script. The way certain story details (like Primrose's nickname, "Little Duck") were thrown into the dialogue was a little awkward.
In the end, there was a sense of déjà vu with "The Hunger Games," like how it was when the "Twilight" movie premiered. Fans love it just because it is "The Hunger Games," and we will still see the other movies, but in the end, at least for me, it fell short of my expectations.
By leaving out important details, the intensity level of the film clearly dropped. Also, the acting could have been better, and the realism needed improving. I could not have been more disappointed.