Book-to-Movie Commentary: ‘Breaking Dawn,’ ‘Catching Fire,’ and ‘Mockingjay’

Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth star in the highly anticipated film, 'The Hunger Games." Photo: Entertainment Weekly

You know how sometimes, rereading certain books can be more appealing than diving into new (and most likely, better) novels you have just sitting on the shelf? In the last few days, I reread Breaking Dawn of the Twilight series and Catching Fire and Mockingjay, both from The Hunger Games trilogy, rather than Atonement by Ian McEwan or One Day by David Nicholls. In doing so, I remembered some plot points, several of which I’d like to see (or not) in the upcoming movie adaptations.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

What I forgot: Newlywed Bella Cullen (Kristen Stewart) is with child. There are problems with the birth and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) actually has to use his fangs to deliver their baby, who is enclosed in vampire skin. —Chapter 18, pp. 351-352

What I think they should change: The werewolves communicate with each other through their thoughts. There are prolonged scenes where Jacob (Taylor Lautner), Seth, and Leah remain in their wolf form to “talk,” but hopefully, they filmed those with the actors as humans. That way, there’s less confusion, and the Twihards get to see more of the supporting cast.

What I hope they get right: In the midst of smoothing things over in the battlefield, the enemy suddenly kills a vampire, Irina (Maggie Grace from Lost), for no good reason. Her sisters, Tanya and Kate, go insane and try to cross the field for revenge, as the Cullens attempt to stop them. Otherwise, the sisters will start the war. I hope this part makes the final cut because their grief offers emotional depth, and the ensuing struggle makes for a great action scene. —Chapter 37, pp. 706-710

L to R: Vampires Esme Cullen with Irina (Maggie Grace) and her two sisters in "Breaking Dawn Part I." Photo: About.com
L to R: Vampires Esme Cullen with Irina (Maggie Grace) and her two sisters in "Breaking Dawn Part I." Photo: About.com

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

What I forgot: The horrible death that befalls Finnick, one of the beloved characters. He gets torn to pieces by three mutt mutations. My guess is that they’ll pull the camera away. Sidenote: Perhaps Hunter Parrish from Weeds (a former contender for the movie’s male lead) could play Finnick? —Mockingjay: Chapter 22, pp.312-313

What I hope they change: Other than Finnick’s death, I’m not a fan of the result of the love triangle. Katniss (Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence) ends up with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). It came as a bit of a shock to me since I was rooting for the other guy, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). However, it seems like majority of The Hunger Games fanbase is happy with the pairing, so the film will most likely stick with that ending. (See new pictures of the cast here.)

What I hope they get right: The cast can make or break a movie, and while there’s still a lot more casting to be done for these sequels, I’d really like them to get at least one super right. The one I’m talking about is Johanna, a contestant and former winner of the games. That means the actress will have to be athletic and/or undergo training for the role. She is slightly older than Katniss, and she has spiky hair and brown eyes, but those are moot points, thanks to makeup and the fact that most actors play younger or older characters anyway.

Kristen Bell, one of my top picks for the role of Johanna in "The Hunger Games" trilogy. Photo: Just Jared

What’s important is the actress must be able to handle the complexity of Johanna, who is disliked at first, but eventually, wins people over in the books. She is also tortured by the evil government, which isn’t shown in detail in the trilogy, but her post-traumatic stress is, to say the least. My top choices would be Kristen Bell (she publicly stated that she wants the part) and one of my fave actresses, Alison Lohman (Drag Me to Hell).

Bell showed she can definitely play the bad girl on Heroes and turn on the likability as needed, like in the cult hit, Veronica Mars. Lohman displayed vulnerability and spunk in White Oleander and Matchstick Men. Plus, they both look younger than they really are.

I also wouldn’t mind either Rooney Mara (The Social Network) or Emma Stone (Zombieland), who has got the sass. Unlike the search for the lead, Katniss, which required a much younger actress, the possibilities for Johanna are very good. Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls), Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs), Keira Knightley (Domino), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Oscar winner Natalie Portman certainly all have the chops. It just depends if they’re considered age appropriate, if they’d want to do it, and if their busy schedules would allow them.

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