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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 26, 2014

Hollywood, you have pleasantly surprised me

By STEPH TAHTINEN - Mt. Pleasant News | Apr 06, 2012

J.W. Eagan is quoted as saying “Never judge a book by its movie.” It’s an adage that I’ve always lived by, as time after time I find myself being utterly disappointed as one of my favorite stories is transferred from the page to the screen. The movie adaptations are always weighed, measured and found wanting.

True, changes are to be expected whenever a book is made into a movie. Some things don’t translate well onto the screen. Other changes are meant to simplify the storyline or make it fit into a reasonable time length for a movie.

Yet, although I recognize the need for changes, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to movies based on books. I like them to be as close to the original text as possible. To me it’s frustrating when a movie adds additional scenes, removes crucial plot points or change things arbitrarily – i.e. the final battle scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

So needless to say, I was extremely nervous when I went to the movie theater almost two weeks ago for the opening weekend of The Hunger Games. I’ve been obsessed with the book series, written by Suzanne Collins, since early fall 2009. To me, the series ranks right up there with Harry Potter in being among my favorite books.

It’s one of those stories that stays with you. A story becomes so much a part of who you are that it is hard to distinguish the fiction from the reality as you find yourself thrown into the arena with the Girl on Fire and the Boy with the Bread. A story that leaves you asking – real or not real?

I wasn’t surprised when I heard the series was going to be made into movies. But, I was hesitant to be excited. I had signed up on Facebook to be a citizen of Panem – the fictional country in the story – and it determined I was a citizen of District 10 and was employed as a livestock breeder. Other than that, I didn’t really get into The Hunger Games hype. I wasn’t really interested in attending the midnight showing – I was pretty tired that night anyway, so I waited until Saturday afternoon to attend the matinee.

Part of me was jump-up-and-down-in-my-seat excited for The Hunger Games (does that make me a citizen of the Capitol?) and part of me was worried that Hollywood would disappoint me yet again.

It didn’t. I was completely blown away. This movie is, by far, the best book-to-movie adaptation that I have ever seen.

When I got home from the theater I immediately called Mom, who is also a fan of the books, and she asked me how the movie was. She was shocked when I replied, “Almost perfect!”

That “almost” does allow for a few small changes or things that were left out, but overall these were minor and did not really impact the story that much. I can accept that. It was a difficult story to tell, and I thought it was done superbly. It has renewed my obsession with The Hunger Games and left me eagerly waiting for Catching Fire.

Hollywood, you’ve already made me a very happy fan once. Can you do it two more times? I hope so. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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