Don’t get me wrong here, I loved The Hunger Games. But the level of my fandom is such that I couldn’t help but notice the things missing from the movie — and that noticing ranged from “Oh, that’s interesting they made that choice,” to “Oh, that’s actually probably better without X,” to “How could they?” And I’m sure I’m not alone, so take a look at this list, ranging from best omissions to worst, and then share your own. Or yell at me for daring to nitpick like this. SPOILERS GALORE!
12. The muttations’ tribute numbers and eyes. Really, as scary as it was in the book to think of a rabid dog with Rue’s eyes, there’s no way this could have looked good on film.
11. District 11 giving Katniss a loaf of bread. After Katniss places flowers on Rue’s body, she receives this humble gift from the poor district and knows they must have sacrificed a lot to afford it. It’s a subtle act of rebellion — maybe too subtle for a movie, especially without hearing Katniss’ thoughts. Instead, we get the added scene of the riot in District 11, which had me sobbing. So, good choice.
10. Peeta’s dad delivering the cookies. I get why they eliminated Katniss’ friend Madge, since she goes nowhere as a character. But when Peeta’s dad gives her cookies and promises to look after Prim and their mom, we felt like it said a lot about District 12. And Katniss dumping the cookies from the window said even more about her conflicted state of mind with regard to Peeta.
9. Cato literally ripping his hair out after Katniss blows up the pyramid. OK, this one is from my husband, who liked this comic moment. I do wish that the scene after the explosion, along with Katniss’ hearing loss, could have been milked for a little more suspense.
8. Haymitch’s fall onstage at the reaping. I get that this scene could have turned the bleak reaping scene into something too clownish. But this, and the omitted scenes of Haymitch passing out drunk would have explained Katniss’ contempt of him, and made his later sobriety seemed more dramatic.
7. Interviews of Katniss’ and Peeta’s family and friends for the telecast of the Games. I absolutely loved all the control room stuff in the movie, but I was hoping we’d get a little more taste of what was going on back in the districts, and maybe even get an uncomfortable interview of Gale in there too.
6. Katniss drugging Peeta to go to the feast. Haymitch’s sponsor gift of sleeping syrup instead of antibiotics is so torturous in the books. And Katniss’ decision to go to the feast is made a little too easy in the movie.
5. More time with Cinna and his team. I loved the flighty, shallow assistant stylists, who fuss and cry over Katniss in the book rather than make snide comments about needing to hose her down. And Cinna and Katniss don’t have enough time to establish their relationship in the movie. He’s just instantly a trusted protector.
4. The avox’s story. Again, I get that there were too many side stories to make it into a movie. But the story of how Katniss and Gale witnessed the capture of two attempted escapees, and her realization that the Capitol ripped her tongue out in punishment, makes Panem a much scarier place.
3. Rue and Katniss’ time together. I thought Amandla Stenberg was excellent in her tiny bit of screen time and really wished we could have seen their sisterly bond established a little more.
2. The story of Katniss and Gale’s friendship. Poor Liam Hemsworth was basically relegated to reaction shots every time Katniss and Peeta were together. If we’re going to believe in any kind of love triangle, I hope Catching Fire includes a flashback of how Katniss learned to hunt at Gale’s side.
1. Peeta having his leg amputated. Happy as I was not to have to watch Katniss clean up all that pus after his first injury, it was annoying to see him running around good as new and then not getting a single scratch from the muttations. In the book, he comes home from the Games damaged inside and out.
And OK, in honor of the unmentioned District 13, I’ll add a 13th little thing that bugged me: Katniss was too quick to bring out those poisoned berries — like, when did she come up with that idea, and how did Peeta agree to it so fast? Just maybe 15 seconds of hesitation before this national-rebellion-spurring act would have been good.
So, what do you think?