We’ve seen quite a few franchises rip through social media these days, and they all have the same things in common. One, they come from popular books series. IE: Harry Potter and Twilight. The Hunger Games is no different. Two, they all have gigantic budgets with big studios backing them. They can boast the latest in CGI, costume design, even scores by some of the top composers. And three, they can take many liberties and let the foot off the gas creatively (and they often do) because they all have multitudes of preteen fans ready to spend their lunch money on a movie ticket, even before the film is released. The result is generally poor writing and even worse acting.
Suffice to say, I would not call most of these films great, or even good. They are passable to a fan of the book series they were birthed from, and popcorn entertainment for the casual movie goer who wouldn’t know good cinema if it bit them in the ass. This being said, I want to believe that The Hunger Games will have a little more to offer, and here are a few reasons why I think they will actually be good.
1. Casting. While there are a few unknown actors joining the Hunger Games cast, I am thrilled to death that they cast some people that we know have acting chops. I’m most excited about Jennifer Lawrence, who has already proved her weight in gold with an Oscar nod. From the trailers we’ve seen, she seems to have Katniss Everdeen’s brooding bravery down pat. We also have Donald Sutherland playing the evil Capitol dictator. Donald Sutherland is a badass. You could cast him as an extra and he would steal the show. We also have Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, a powdered Capitol lackey, who will nail it because she has the gift of being animated without being cheesy. Woody Harrelson will play a drunk, which may be challenging for him.
2. Gary Ross. I was previously pretty unfamiliar with him as a writer/director. Projects he’s best known for include Big, Pleasantville, and Seabiscuit; in which he wrote all three and directed the latter two. He’s been nominated for a fair number of Academy Awards for his screenplays; many of the films he’s worked on have received nods in various categories. When I read interviews with Gary, he’s not focusing on the flashy parts of the story. He seems in tune with the nature of the characters and the relationships that they have and develop with one another. Plus, Donald Sutherland called him “exquisite.” What more endorsement do you need?
3. Panem. Suzanne Collins created a post-apocalyptic world in her series unlike most we’ve seen before. After a devastating World War and a smorgasbord of natural disasters, the remaining population of North America is separated into districts and controlled by the domineering Capitol. Each district is given a trade, its wares are taken and distributed by the Capitol. In this dystopic society, every aspect of life is controlled. Only once in its history did the districts of Panem rebel, which is why the Hunger Games were put into place. Two tributes, one male and one female, are randomly chosen from each district to battle to the death in an arena until only one is left standing. The games are televised; to entertain the Capitol and to remind the rest of Panem the cost of rebellion.
If you’re curious to know more about Panem and what it looks like, check out this page created by people with way too much time on their hands.
Here is the newest trailer for those who may have missed it:
The Hunger Games opens in theaters on March 23. Jack Bauer’s dad thinks you should see it.