Five Reasons to See “The Hunger Games”

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

I am a big fan of the novel The Hunger Games and the midnight premiere for the film is tonight! I came across this article on the nydailynews.com describing 5 reasons why the movie will be such a success.

1. Movie first, marketing later

Despite the media hunger – created partly by a multiplatform ad campaign — Ross’ film actually feels like it was made without an eye toward marketing. It’s a serious allegory about how governments humiliate and manipulate the poor, indicting us all for making inhumanity a kind of reality-TV appointment viewing.

The film is a different beast than the one seemingly created to sell beauty products, cookbooks bracelets and every other trinket out there (and of which the film’s Effie Trinket would surely approve.) Also, regarding box-office numbers: The movie may break records, but it didn’t sell its soul to do it.

2. Katniss Everdeen is more than just “a chick hero.”

While Ross, Collins and Billy Ray’s screenplay for “Games” could have spent more time on its heroine’s past, Jennifer Lawrence clearly plays her as if she has no future. The grim set to her jaw and look of terror in her eyes as she sees the full scope of the Capitol’s depravity (a chariot entrance is far more nightmarish than in the book) don’t suddenly give way to bow-and-arrow butt-kicking.

In fact, there are few “applause moments” for fans. The biggest one — an arrow shot at a slaughtered pig that “Gamemakers” pay more attention to than they do the soon-to-be-slaughtered teens – is an act of anti-1% anger. The rebellious spirit in the poster, of arrow aimed at us, is felt, not shown.

3. The Capitol show

Like “The Truman Show” – one of several forebears – “Hunger Games” skewers the media in a way the book doesn’t. Propaganda films trumpet the games’ “honor,” crowds hoot while watching the killings, and parodies of TV interviewers and “American Idol”- type judges offer more shadowy satire than its source material.

4. No voice-over!

It would’ve been easy simply to transplant Collins’ use of first-person narration — yet if we heard Katniss’ thoughts, we wouldn’t experience the brutality for ourselves. We’d miss the big picture.

It’s actually an amazing display of restraint. A 16-year-old with an Appalachian accent telling us about her survival plans, the creepy Oz that is the Capitol and her conflicted feelings about two hunks? That alone would make most of Hollywood salivate.

5. What love triangle?

Big-time “Games” fans may take sides, à la “Twilight,” as to whether Katniss should end up with co-Tribute Peeta Mellark or Gale, her District 12 soulmate. But the movie wisely emphasizes “romance” as Katniss’ reluctant strategy to win sponsors and stay alive. (That plays as satire too, though Collins didn’t plan it.)

This first film, at least, doesn’t dwell on that. Sequels may differ, but in the inaugural “Games,” there isn’t Team Peeta or Team Gale. There’s just Team Katniss, and we’re on it.

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