Can the ‘Hunger Games’ stray from the ‘Twilight’ path?

By Jason Dafnis

It’s safe to say that the source material for The Hunger Games is drastically different from the franchise it’s spawned—its most notable contrast is with its own film adaptation. As a standalone product, the Hunger Games film is an admirable Hollywood effort, with several known names and decent actors and actresses tied to the project, and as much cinematic action as can be packed into a PG-13 release.

However, it alienated most who knew the source novel trilogy in its shying away from the meat of the story. All-important characters and motives went undeveloped or unmentioned entirely. The mirror of the silver screen rarely reflects the page with much fidelity, but The Hunger Games went amiss on one too many key story aspects.

Now, take the preceding paragraphs and replace “The Hunger Games” with “Twilight”. Scary how true it still rings, isn’t it? In both cases, the franchise built around the source material shows great vicissitude from its origin. This is due to the tendency of Hollywood, assisted by the general media, to eschew the cinematic potential of respectable book series with quick thrills and infatuating characters.

In the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, the political intrigue and undertones of revolution (not to mention the gross toning-down of the visceral nature of the 74th Annual Hunger Games) went completely unnoted by those unfamiliar with the book and were sorely missed by those familiar. The relationship between main characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark is portrayed in the limelight as love blossoming in the midst of war, rather than the transient, Capitol-appealing farce that it truly is. Fans have even come to embrace Team Peeta and Team Gale, representing a frightening parallel with the Twilight film series’ Teams Edward and Jacob.

Normally, this could all be shrugged off. Sure, they have two more Hunger Games movies to get things right… Right? Lamentably, however, the damage has been done: a huge fanbase is being built around The Hunger Games film with little respect to its mother novel. It’s more than a case of the book being better than the film (which it always is)—the integrity of the books themselves, already established, is being jeopardized by preteen audiences looking for the next romance to ship. It’s happening with Twilight, and based on the insanity following their release, the book series saw few newcomers. In short, nobody read the books because everybody saw the movies.

Sticking closer to the books, while always a good idea, isn’t necessarily a foolproof preventative when producing a film based on them. There will always be fanatics that ruin good things for other people. But The Hunger Games’ misstep came when it not only acknowledged but embraced these “hook, line, and sinker” tactics for a quick sale. Worse, while the movies will continue to dominate box offices, it’ll always be the books that suffer for their offspring’s mistakes.

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