The Hunger Games is the hot-ticket item at the movies right now; It's already sold-out record numbers of advanced showings, and earned strong reviews from critics (click here for our official review). The film is looking like a big success for Lionsgate (a sequel, Catching Fire, is already on the way) - but that doesn't mean that everyone is sold on seeing it.
In fact, there is a considerable portion of the larger moviegoing public that hasn't read any of Suzanne Collins' novels and is wondering what all the hubbub is about this film and if it's worth a trip to the theater.
So, for those who have not yet been bitten by Hunger Gamesfever, we've compiled 5 things you should know to help you better make your decision about whether or not to see the film.
5. There is Action and Violence
Contrary to what The Hunger Games trailers would have you believe, this film is about more than just the drama surrounding protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to save her sister, Prim. There is actually, you know, a brutal tournament that takes place.
Admittedly, the studio has taken a risky step by leaving footage of the deadly melee that is the actual "hunger games" out of any preview materials. Having read the book, trust us when we say that the film offers plenty of action (and some pretty horrific moments) once Katniss is on the playing field fighting for her life. Dangers include mutated beasts, video game-style traps - and oh, yeah, the 20+ other young combatants looking to murder one another.
If you're worried that this film looks boring and/or sappy - don't. There are plenty of thrills and chills to be had.
4. There's No Soapy 'Twilight' Romantic Stuff
Those unfamiliar with The Hunger Games have taken one look at the two male protagonists in the film trailers - Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) - and immediately leapt to the conclusion that the film would emulate the soapy teen love triangle of The Twilight Saga. While we can see the similarity, that assumption is still an erroneous one.
Katniss Everdeen is not the type of girl to get hung up on boys. Author Suzanne Collins created a unique heroine whose only focus is survival, period. The two boys in her life are only there because they help with that survival goal - whether at home in the forests hunting for food (Gale), or during the public relations campaign that precedes the games (Peeta).
No sappy love story to see here, folks. Once the games begin, Katniss' concern is keeping herself alive. Any love or affection she shows is all part of the game...
3. It's Not Just a Clone of That Film You Saw Before
Even as The Hunger Games nears its theatrical debut, there are snarky individuals who like to drop comments about how the film is a recycled version of earlier films like The Running Man, or Japenese cult-classic Battle Royale - or (to lesser extent) deathmatch films like The Condemned. However, these so-called "insights" lack, well, insight into what The Hunger Games is truly about.
Sure, there are obvious shades of influence all over Suzanne Collins' work, but the fact is that Collins succeeded in creating her own unique characters, narrative, and thematic angles - as well as a world and mythos that is all her own. While The Hunger Games does intersect with other, similar, stories at certain points, it is also more modern and topical than any of the aforementioned films it's being compared to.
Genre movies often share similar premises - it's all about the uniqueness of the story that's crafted within that premise. In the case of Hunger Games, that story is one worth exploring.
2. Director Gary Ross has Skills
Director Gary Ross may not be a director whose name you're immediately familiar with, but the man has definite skills.The Hunger Games is only the third feature film he's directed, but the other two entries on that list arePleasantville and Seabiscuit - both of which received multiple Oscar nominations and are loved by their respective fans.
Did we also mention that Ross is a screenwriter who has worked on the scripts for each of his films, including Hunger Games? Oh, and before directing his own work, Ross wrote scripts for little films like Big, Dave and Mr. Baseball. You may have heard of them.
That's all to say: The Hunger Games has been crafted by a man who very much knows how to make a film. And if early reports are any indication, Ross has taken the book and not only translated it to screen intact - he's improved upon it in some ways.
1. The Cast Has Skills Too
If you look at the cast of fresh young faces that are starring in The Hunger Games and assume that they aren't seasoned enough to deliver a compelling movie, you'd be wrong. The movie has celebrated veterans like Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci (Devil Wears Prada), Toby Jones, Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Mirir) and Woody Harrelson all elevating the material, and the young actors are just as talented.
Star Jennifer Lawrence broke into the mainstream with a 2011 Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in the indie drama Winter's Bone. Co-star Josh Hutcherson played a major role in The Kids Are All Right, which was also nominated for multiple 2011 Oscars. That combination alone should tell you what kind of talent Ross and the studio snagged for this film. Even the cast of supporting characters has some proven acting talent, including Orphan star Isabelle Fuhrman and rocker Lenny Kravitz, who earned respect for his role in Precious, and may be a case of pitch-perfect casting as Katniss' enigmatic stylist, Cinna.
In terms of acting talent, The Hunger Games cast is far from amateur hour.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.