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Faithful as it was to the source material, "The Hunger Games" still had more than its fair share of on-screen surprises.
Even so, the following eight moments had our jaws on the floor.
Do be warned: this list is full of delicious spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, you may want to bookmark this column for later.
Foxface and Katniss Bump into Each Other
We weren't expecting Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the sneaky Foxface (Jacqueline Emerson) to become, um, acquainted so early in the Games … but we really did like watching the two jointly opt for the flight (as opposed to fight) strategy to survival after colliding into one another. It definitely set them apart from the viciousness underway back at the Cornucopia.
Cato and Glimmer Sittin' Under a Tree
It was a pretty gossip-worthy shocker that Glimmer (Leven Rambin) and Cato (Alexander Ludwig) – who were equally good-looking and arrogant, come to think of it – became a cross-district item during "The Hunger Games." In the books, it seemed like Cato might've had a shine for his own district's Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), but we can't lie, we kinda dug the movie matching.
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Snow's Perspective on the Games
We knew we'd get to see a little more of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the film than we'd read about, but what we did not foresee was how thoroughly his position on the Games would be represented. We loved seeing him in his rose garden dishing out knowledge on how to keep the masses in check. It was a great set up for the bigger picture (and, of course, the sequel "Catching Fire").
Revolution Hits District 11
Director Gary Ross did tease that there'd be a peek at the discontent in District 11 in the movie, but we had no idea it'd be so intense! It was almost like an early glimpse at the ruckus of "Mockingjay." And who didn't fist pump when those Capitol grain supplies went down? Well played, Steven Soderbergh.
Caesar Flickerman Running the Show
Having Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) serve as a bizarre pacemaker for the movie was darn effective. For one, those moments where he popped in Capitol TV-style were madly entertaining reminders that this was a show, and they also helped to move the action forward. Everyone knew Tucci would bring pure gold to the role, but we didn't expect him to have so much good screen time to work with.
Haymitch's Star-Crossed Lovers Play
It was well-anticipated that Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) would use the "star-crossed lovers from District 12" bit in his sponsorship efforts, but the movie added a twist by having him put the dual victors concept into motion. Not only was it nice to see how that game change came about, but it was also great to watch Haymitch work it for both of his mentees.
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Cato's Descent into Madness
In the muttation-driven battle between Cato, Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), we loved it when Peeta put his throwing strength to good use and chucked that career tribute right over his shoulders to protect his lady. But what was even better was Cato's final monologue. While he started out tough and eager to bring "honor" to his district, by the end, of it he'd become just crazy enough to realize how senseless the Games were. Those lines added some really interesting complexity to the scene.
Seneca and the Berries
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the moment Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), having just allowed two out-lying district tributes to out-maneuver him, was locked in a room to find a bowl of nightlock berries awaiting. Throughout the movie, he was clearly under warning not to disappoint, and we readers of the books knew things wouldn't pan out so well for him. Still, this scene served as a testament to both the gravity of his mistake and Snow's wicked cleverness.
What was the biggest surprise of "The Hunger Games" to you? Shoot away in the comments!
Amanda Bell is a young adult book-to-film enthusiast and has made a name for herself as a fan-friendly, informative and dependable source. In addition to being the District 14 columnist for NextMovie, she runs the popular Twilight Examiner column. Keep tabs on her on Twitter.