Trailer Tuesday: The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins's trilogy of Hunger Games novels is arguably the biggest Young Adult literature phenomenon since The Twilight Saga. Given the series' massive mainstream success, a film adaptation was inevitable, and next year sees the release of the first Hunger Games movie, based on the 2008 novel of the same name.
Now the Hunger Games is sure to have wider, cross-gender appeal than the Twilight Saga. The reason for this is that the story is action-packed and brutal. Oh, and it's (subdued) sci-fi as opposed to supernatural romance.
Set in a future where the United States as we know it has fallen, the decadent, cruel and technologically advanced Capitol city rules over the 12 remaining districts of Panem with an iron fist. To maintain control, and keep the citizens subservient, every year the Hunger Games are held - a teenage boy and girl are selected from each district via a lottery and forced to fight to death on live TV. Of these 24 Tributes, there can only be one survivor.
Resourceful 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) thinks she has signed her death warrant when she steps forward to replace her little sister in the Games. And certainly the odds seem stacked against her. Her poverty-stricken mining district, District 12, has only produced one winner in decades and drunken Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) is now more of a laughing stock than a worthy mentor. Katniss also faces fierce competition in the Arena, where some of the Tributes have been training all their lives for the honour of being chosen. Then there's the fact that at some point Katniss will have to kill her fellow District 12 Tribute Peter Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), whose kindness once saved her life.
Still, for all her doubts, and hesitancy to open her heart to anyone, skilled poacher Katniss is a real contender... And the Capitol authorities (including president Donald Sutherland and head gamemaker Wes Bentley) aren't blind to how her courage and determination have made her a symbol of defiance for the public to rally behind. For the record, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci play some of the other important figures involved in staging the 74th Hunger Games.
Admittedly, the concept behind The Hunger Games isn't exactly novel. Readers and moviegoers alike have already been exposed to the televised gladiatorial games of The Running Man, Dystopian Japanese teens-fight-to-the-death tale Battle Royale, and even dark, contemporary-set satire Series 7: The Contenders, in which people are selected by national lottery to kill one another on reality TV.
I'm also not quite sure if the Hunger Games literary craze has reached South Africa yet, but I read the first book a few months ago, and found it to be a genuine page-turner - brisk and enjoyable, despite being stylistically very stripped down and simple. Many of the book's fans have been blown away by the film trailer above, and I've been similarly impressed. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the filmmakers have done an even better job than the novel in conveying the emotional gravitas of the teens' situation. If the cameras are always on, what's real and what's an act for public support? If you know you have to kill someone, and they have to kill you, can you risk forming alliances, friendships or even a romantic bond?
For more Hunger Games goodness, you can check out a collection of high definition stills from the trailer here on My New Plaid Pants.
The Hunger Games releases in North America on 23 March. The film opens 2 days earlier in South Africa, on 21 March, to coincide with the Human Rights Day public holiday. For this one I'm definitely going to be there on opening day.