My first feeling after seeing “The Hunger Games” at the theater was that it was good if you like watching teenagers kill each other. I borrowed the book too. The movie follows it very closely. The main difference is that the book is told entirely in the first person from Katniss’s point of view so some of the behind-the-scenes machinations in the Capitol seen in the movie were added by the filmmakers.
The greatest value of the movie was its excellent visualization of the book’s efficient text, the best examples being in the flashy, high-tech fashions of the Capitol such as Caeser Flickerman’s talk show set. A little less impressive were the depictions of the Captiol’s architecture. My wife and I debated about whether the filmmakers intended the city to look drab or if they tried to make it look monumental and fell a bit short.
I’ve heard some jabbering about whether dystopian Panem is meant to represent the follies of a liberal or of a conservative society. I didn’t get any sense of partisanship from Suzanne Collins’ story. I thought it was more about an exploitative civilization that lived in leisurely comfort while distant, hidden people toiled for their benefit. Panem seemed like a combination of ancient Rome, pre-Revolutionary France, and contemporary North Korea but I saw a lot of us (liberal, conservative, or otherwise) in it.