At first glance, another teen franchise may be the last thing on your must-see list, but there are 5 reasons you should be excited about a "Hunger Games" Movie. Unlike the “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” series, this brutal depiction of a future America, renamed Panem, does not rely on supernatural, sparkly vampires or magical witches for its drama. Instead, author Suzanne Collins has created a bleak, harsh post-apocalyptic world where children fight children in a reality TV death match that requires remarkable ingenuity, survival skills and luck. The creative team has seemingly remained true to the spirit of the trilogy with inspired casting, loyalty to the source material and a big budget to capture the complex visual requirements of the novels. There are many reasons to give “The Hunger Games” a chance when it opens in March 2012, but here are the top five.
The Story. In a desolate future, where natural resources, food and money are in short supply, the governing Capitol of Panem demands that each of its 12 districts send tributes, one girl and one boy aged 12 to 18, to the Hunger Games arena each year. These young people must find food, water and kill or be killed until one victor remains. The death match is played live on television and is required viewing for all citizens. Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the series, hails from the poorest district of the land, where starvation and poverty keep the citizens from developing much physical agility and strength. Katniss volunteers for the Games when her younger sister, Prim, is chosen for the 74th event. Her journey from the backwaters of the country to the heights of the glamorous Capitol to the stark reality of the Games makes for thrilling tale, with dashes of romance, intrigue and surprising humor.
Jennifer Lawrence, who received a 2010 Oscar nomination for her performance in “Winter’s Bone,” certainly has the beauty and the acting chops to handle the complex role of 16-year-old Katniss, who combines steely determination and heartfelt loyalty with a sophisticated ability to hunt with a bow and arrow. Katniss learned to hunt when her father died, and killing small animals was the only option for keeping her bereft mother and younger sister fed. Although the blonde 21-year-old does not exactly fit the physical description in the books, the teaser trailer and photos from the set show that she has transformed into trilogy’s heroine and has even recorded a song for the soundtrack.
The Studs. In the Hunger Games world there are two young men vying for the center spot in Katniss’ heart. The hometown hunk and hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne, will be played by Liam Hemsworth, probably best known as Miley Cyrus’ boyfriend and co-star in “The Last Song.” Gale has been Katniss’ only friend in District 12, and they each have resisted letting their romantic feelings for each other get in the way of their practical needs to survive. Josh Hutcherson, the son in “The Kids Are Alright,” will play Peeta Mellark, the other tribute chosen from her District. Although the two players begin as allies, victory will eventually require the other’s death.
The Supporting Cast. Alongside a cast of young actors, director Gary Ross has chosen a supporting cast of famous talents that indicate a very interesting array of performances. Donald Sutherland plays the villainous President Snow who runs the Capitol. Woody Harrelson plays the drunken mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, to Katniss and Peeta. Once a victor of the 50th Games, Haymitch has fallen into an endless stupor of drink and despair that does not bode well for the District 12 win. Surprisingly, rock star Lenny Kravitz will play the significant role of Katniss’ stylist, Cinna. Lastly, comic relief will come from the plastic surgery-obsessed Capitol characters by the always fabulous Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and Toby Jones.
The Sequels. Like every good thriller, “The Hunger Games” will leave audiences wanting just a little more. There are two sequels, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay,” that continue the story of Panem with surprising twists and turns.