Barnard College's Monthly Magazine
By Hannah Miller
There’s a new film phenomenon that thankfully has nothing to do with sparkly vampires. The Hunger Games, premiering March 23rd, has generated a lot of buzz over whether it will do justice to the eponymous trilogy on which it is based. Suzanne Collins published the first novel of the series in 2008 and since then, the YA literary world has caught Hunger Games fever. All three books have been bestsellers, with The Hunger Games being the first YA or children’s book to sell over one million copies for Amazon’s Kindle.
The novels take place in Panem, a dystopian North America that has been divided into 12 districts. Each year, a boy and girl from every district are randomly selected to fight in the “Hunger Games,” a brutal and bloody competition that serves as punishment for a failed rebellion against the cruel Capitol. These “tributes” must outsmart the stadium’s devious booby traps as well as each other, all while being broadcast on live television. The goal of the Games is to be the last person standing, and this is exactly what Katniss Everdeen, the novel’s heroine, intends to do.
There has been a lot of buzz about the special effects of the film concerning how the glittering world of the Capitol will be portrayed. That is why it is so surprising that Gary Ross was selected to direct this blockbuster franchise. Ross is most famous for writing the screenplay for Big and for both writing and directing Seabiscuit. Though he’s received four Oscar nominations, Ross has very little experience with sci-fi, causing many fans to doubt whether he can excel in bringing Panem from page to screen. The Hunger Games trailer has already suffered criticism for weak digital imaging. Hopefully, Ross’ ability to tell a good story will outweigh his lack of technical expertise.
Ross may have nothing to fear because fans will have plenty of vivid characters to distract from possibly weak special effects. When Katniss Everdeen comes onscreen, hopefully the backdrop will be the least of anyone’s worries. The heroine’s quick wits, unwavering determination, and kick-ass archery skills completely outshine Bella Swan’s pathetic whining and propensity for tripping. This is why all eyes will be trained on Jennifer Lawrence, the actress chosen to portray Katniss in The Hunger Games. Lawrence is a hot young newcomer in Hollywood, already nominated for an Oscar at the tender age of 21 for the 2010 film, Winter’s Bone. Lawrence poignantly played Ree Dolly, a tough as nails teen who navigates incredible dangers to keep her family intact. There is no doubt that Lawrence will be able to channel Ree’s survival instincts and fierce protectiveness into her Hunger Games role, for, like Ree, Katniss is hell-bent on staying alive in order to keep her family safe.
The other two roles that will have to hold up to close scrutiny are those of Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. Peeta is the male Hunger Games participant from Katniss’s district. Affable and earnest, he competes for his life as well as for Katniss’ heart during the competition. He will be played by Josh Hutcherson, whose most significant role to date was Laser in the indie hit, The Kids Are Alright. It remains to be seen whether Hutcherson will be able to capture the emotional depths of a character so beloved that his fans are known by the twisted moniker “Peetaphiles.” But before breaking out your “Team Peeta” t-shirt, it’s important to consider his rival for Katniss’ love. Gale Hawthorne is Katniss’s best friend and will be portrayed by Liam Hemsworth, who is better known for being Miley Cyrus’s boyfriend than for any particular acting gig. However, his brooding stare and good looks seem an apt match for the emotionally fraught Gale.
There are other standouts speckled throughout The Hunger Games cast. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, Easy A) will play Caesar Flickerman, the flamboyant TV personality who interviews the Hunger Games participants. Woody Harrelson takes a turn in a questionable flaxen wig to play the part of Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken survivor of Games past and Katniss’s only life line while she struggles in the arena. Lenny Kravitz is another hot name, and his cool factor will translate well to playing Cinna, Katniss’ unflappable stylist.
The combination of this all-star cast with an adrenaline-pumping plotline should make The Hunger Games an undeniable treat. If the movie is half as good as the books, it will be a definite must-see for both diehard fans and the uninitiated. So if you want to see how Panem pans out on the big screen, or even just drool over Liam Hemsworth, then mark down March 23rd as a definite movie night out.