Since the conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise last summer, the film industry has been in desperate need of a new teen sensation. With the arrival of The Hunger Games to cinemas in March of this year Hollywood seems to have found a fitting successor to the bespectacled wizard. Despite other 2012 arrivals including a Spiderman reboot, The Avengers and The Hobbit, The Hunger Games is the most highly anticipated movie of the year.
The first film instalment of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy has no intention of merely replacing Potter: it seems set to surpass him. Lionsgate are so confident of The Hunger Games success that they have already begun to write a script for the sequel, Catching Fire.
Having recently read the original book myself, I share Hollywood’s self assurance in the inevitable box-office boom awaiting the release of The Hunger Games. Collins’ creation is an unsettling comment on reality TV, modern life, and the most basic biological need of all, survival.
In a post apocalyptic future, where a totalitarian state rules, 24 teenage girls and boys are selected by lottery to fight each other to the death in front of a large television audience. We follow the female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, as she is sucked into this brutal combat to protect her family.
If the film is anywhere near as good as its source material then we are in for a real treat this spring. The story is hard edged, gruesome and uncompromising. At times I physically shook with tension when reading certain passages. Indeed, the villains of this piece are more frighteningly realistic than Lord Voldemort or any of his companions in Rowling’s works. Unlike that nose-less fiend these baddies have motivations for their nasty deeds. Any one of us could easily become them given the right circumstances.
From the evidence of the trailer the film version has managed to retain the disturbing, cynical, melancholy that Katniss’ struggle generates in its original format. My only fear is that the macabre elements are lost because of a 12A certificate. As of yet, the film has not received a certificate by the BBFC. Obviously, The Hunger Games is no Kill Bill but it would be a travesty if all the shocking moments were censored out. However, the narrative isn’t all about violence. The central romance is sure to keep the more innocent fans of Twilight and Potter contented.
Furthermore, the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland all seem fantastic choices. This trio of thespians have enough star wattage to light Central Hall for a week. Jennifer Lawrence, in particular, is the leading light of Hollywood at the moment. After gaining an Oscar nomination for her role in Winter’s Bone, she has consolidated her early success by starring in last year’s hit, X-Men: First Class. I have no doubt that she is worthy of portraying such a complex heroine as Katniss.
In an extremely exciting year of film The Hunger Games is clearly one of the main highlights. Even though it is certain to be a commercial hit, the real test is in the critical response. Harry Potter has had his doubters, so too has Twilight. Will this new teen craze break that precedent? I certainly hope so.