It has been an awesome month for those of us keeping up with the latest news as Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy The Hunger Games makes its move from bland paper to silver screen. Entertainment Weekly gave excited viewers the first glimpse at Jennifer Lawrence as The Hunger Games’ main badass, Katniss Everdeen; Lionsgate Studios skirted around decisions regarding the franchise; and the first pics from the set have finally been leaked.
In this newest massive book-to-film escapade, twenty year old Jennifer Lawrence, known most recently for her role as Mystique in X-Men: First Class, is hard put to contain her excitement to portray the Girl On Fire who fights for her life in the arena. Lawrence has been very vocal about being a big fan of Collins’ trilogy from the get-go. Having read the books prior to learning of the casting, Lawrence was as skeptical as any die hard fan about something she loved being made into a movie, which is most likely what pushed her to audition for the role. Definitely makes me more secure knowing that an actual fan of the story is leading the cast, even if those damn casting directors overlooked me and chose her. Come on, I could be Katniss, right? I totally look like Lawrence, right? Don’t answer that.
Though most of the younger characters will be portrayed by actors who have little to no credible experience in film, not to worry! They will have heaps of guidance from some of the most awesome adults in movies these days. Elizabeth Banks has been confirmed as the sickeningly upbeat, overtly enthusiastic pink-haired escort of our District 12 tributes, Effie Trinkett and Woody Harrelson will basically reprise his role as Tallahassee in Zombieland, which seems to be the forerunner to his Hunger Games character, Haymitch Abernathy.
Almost as popular as the book-to-movie craze is the annoying, splitting-one-book-into-two-films-to-make-more-money craze, with Harry Potter’s Deathly Hallows, Twilight’s Breaking Dawn, and Jackson’s The Hobbit all have their respective studios cashing in on this trend. Apparently, Warner Bros realized early on that anything pooped out with a Harry Potter label, fans will buy. I am no exception, sadly.
Though Lionsgate is rumored to be pulling a Summit and planning on turning Collins’ trilogy into a four-part movie in an attempt to rake in more dough, most readers can’t imagine where the split will occur. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, being the crux of a seven part series at roughly 3,500 pages total, had too much information that previous movies had overlooked. Splitting the last Deathly Hallows book into 2 movies made sense, not only to give in to the fandom’s plea of an epic finale, but also to go back and fill in those original plotholes so the overall movie flow would be understandable to those movie-goers without prior HP knowledge. The Hunger Games trilogy, at just around 1,200 pages, is less than half of that and wouldn’t necessarily require 4 movies to get the point across if done well. Especially considering a lot of the more minute details will have to be cut in order to turn a 400 page book into an under 2 hour movie.
Still a Hunger Games noob? Haven’t checked out the books yet? No worries, it took me 3 years after they were released before I read them. Here’s my rundown to getcha up to speed.
Set up in the not-so-distant but all too violent future of North America, which is now renamed Panem, the country is controlled by an all-powerful, corrupt Capitol and surrounded by 12 subservient Districts. The Games referred to in the title are an annual televised slaughter devised and controlled by the Capitol, in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 Districts in Panem are offered up as tributes and required to fight to the death, as punishment for previous rebellions and as a way to scare the Districts into submission. Pretty hefty themes for a Young Adult series, eh?
The story is told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old hunter Katniss Everdeen from coal mining District 12, who volunteers herself for the 74th Annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Prim (Willow Shields), and revolves around her time in the arena with school friend and fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) while examining the strained relationships of those she left behind in District 12, most specifically her best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).
If the implication of a love-triangle subplot on the dust jacket completely disinterests you in the story while you shudder and involuntarily spasm “TEAM JACOB,” just remember Twilight has already beaten this trope to death and Collins clearly had no intention of allowing any sort of comparison between these leading ladies.
Unlike the heroine of the previous Twi-phenomenon, The Hunger Games’ Katniss is strong willed, untrustworthy and all around brutal – whereas Miss Bella is clumsy, self deprecating, and subservient. Basically, Bella Swan is to Pete Wentz as Katniss Everdeen is to Chuck Norris. The story and imagery are both incredibly graphic and revolve around fleshed out characters with real life problems. You know, like the moral struggle of having to kill a classmate which is a little more hefty than mooning around over a bedazzled vampy-boy. In the case of Katniss, I do understand why she’s got boys on the run, but thankfully the love triangle has little to do with the overall plot, which is (Duh.) the Games themselves.
Of course there will be an outpouring of “Team” support for whichever leading man girls are crushing on, which I understand and am not demeaning – just so long as the fandom doesn’t take the character shipping to the extreme of combining their names as Hollywood so often tends to do. Brangelina is fine, but I don’t think Katpee, Peeniss or Gayniss are going to go over too well with the YA crowd’s moms.
ETA at the moment is a little over 8 months and some change at March 23, 2012, with the final rating stuck at a measly PG-13, which means most of the gore will be taken out or replaced. Despite that, in all honesty I would rather watch a book-to-movie than a Hollywood remake any day. May the odds be ever in your favor!