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November 15, 2011 3:22 PM   Subscribe


 
I want this series to crush Twilight in the box office so fucking badly, oh my god. CRUSH.
posted by elizardbits at 3:25 PM on November 15, 2011 [44 favorites]


You know, I was pretty skeptical that they could pull this off with a PG-13 rating but the trailer doesn't look that bad. I just hope the movie lives up to the trailer.
posted by exhilaration at 3:34 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Confession: I have not read any of THG books, and really know virtually nothing about them, and yet somehow whenever I see mention of them I get excited and think 'Those books are awesome!'

Is this maybe the most beneficial form of aesthetic peer pressure, or what?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:38 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


the books are actually so awesome that you can sense their awesomosity from afar.
posted by elizardbits at 3:40 PM on November 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I was sure I was not going to like the books. I thought they'd be a cross between Stephen King's The Long Walk and The Running Man... or something. I was definitely wrong, and this movie looks great!
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:42 PM on November 15, 2011


elizardbits is right--they are seriously entertaining books! I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of the trailer. Hope the movie lives up to it!
posted by chatongriffes at 3:42 PM on November 15, 2011


The Mark Reads series on THG is pretty good, if you like his style. I'm still wondering how this is going to be PG-13. I guess it all depends on what's shown on-screen in terms of the rather grisly deaths.
posted by kmz at 3:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really interested to see how the violence gets modified to meet the PG-13 rating. Some pretty gruesome stuff happens to some pretty young kids, and softening those blows seems antithetical to the novels. But I'm pretty excited; I read the books this summer and they basically consumed all my free time til I finished them. Watching this trailer brings back that obsessive element.

But Woody Harrelson's wig just looks awful.
posted by lilac girl at 3:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I couldn't sleep last night and I'd only ever read the first book, so I decided to work my way through Catching Fire and Mockingjay, figuring I had to read them sometime before the movie came out.

I finished Catching Fire right about the same time that the NYPD started evacuating Zuccotti park, and I read through Mockingjay with periodic pauses to check up on Twitter and MeFi for news updates. Today at work, sleep deprived and emotionally strung out from some of the events in the book, all I could think about while fiddling with spreadsheets was how I could join a revolution.

Which is to say that these books may be more timely than we thought. At any rate, I'm pleased with the casting for Katniss, Rue and Prim and I'm quite excited for the movie.
posted by Phire at 3:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


And to my glee, the tie-in nail polish collection has been announced.

That may seem really dumb to some of you but I just drove out of my way to buy Muppet nail polish so I'm pretty stoked.
posted by padraigin at 3:47 PM on November 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Battle Royale
posted by cmoj at 3:47 PM on November 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm really interested to see how the violence gets modified to meet the PG-13 rating.

this is america. graphic violence is totally a-ok! it's the dirty nasty scary sexytimes that our precious children's eyes must forever be shielded from.
posted by elizardbits at 3:50 PM on November 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


Battle Royale is hardly the first work to feature the basic central idea, cmoj.
posted by kmz at 3:52 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Up til now I just assumed Hunger Games was some DaVinci Code-esque hacky airplane paperback stuff.

Was I wrong?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:52 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think they could get away with a PG-13 rating by cutting to the reaction of the audience back in the districts/ in the capitol when there's really violent stuff going on.
posted by revikim at 3:52 PM on November 15, 2011


Amazon readers compare Battle Royale with The Hunger Games. Mind you, one is YA fiction, the other is aimed squarely at adults.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:54 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I'll just say that I'm really happy they didn't whitewash Rue's character.
posted by kmz at 3:54 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was pleased to see that they're at least trying to do a decent job of it, and paying attention to details. I like it, for example, that even the Peacekeepers look like they have no idea what to do when Katniss volunteers, and look a little shamefaced as they bring her up.

I just loved, loved Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, but thought she might be too old for this role. After seeing this, I no longer have that fear, either.
posted by tyllwin at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2011


Up til now I just assumed Hunger Games was some DaVinci Code-esque hacky airplane paperback stuff.

Was I wrong?


Yeah. They're compelling, reasonably well-written, and featuring an interesting dystopian world that more or less makes sense (as opposed to the seventy zillion dystopias that have come out since which make no sense). If you like the genre at all, they're worth a read. (I don't know that they will live forever as the best literature, but few books will.)


Cinna looks great, Effie is perfect, Haymitch's wig looks terrible, and why is Prim giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin? Also, I feel that the braids should have been more elaborate.



I now have to go out and buy the Muppet polish. Fun!
posted by jeather at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, having no experience with the books at all and learning the plot from the trailer, this looks incredibly silly and seems like it has a better-than-even chance of being really bad.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:56 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a movie based on a YA novel, dude. I am reasonably sure you are not the target demographic.
posted by elizardbits at 3:58 PM on November 15, 2011


And here I got all excited thinking this was going to be an adaptation of Franz Kafka's brilliant short story "A Hunger Artist."
posted by koeselitz at 3:59 PM on November 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Maybe I'll check the books out then. My girlfriend is on the first one right now.
This trailer looks like a lot of other Battle Royale Running Man Dangerous Game type flicks I've seen a bunch of times before though.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:59 PM on November 15, 2011


It's a movie based on a YA novel, dude. I am reasonably sure you are not the target demographic.


Ah or maybe not then.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:00 PM on November 15, 2011


Battle Royale is hardly the first work to feature the basic central idea, cmoj.

True. What's your point?
posted by cmoj at 4:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cinna looks great, Effie is perfect, Haymitch's wig looks terrible, and why is Prim giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin? Also, I feel that the braids should have been more elaborate.

One thing that bothered me about Cinna was that in the books he was described as a young man. Lenny is close to 50. But meh.

And changing it from Madge giving the pin to Prim giving the pin to Katniss... Not sure how they're going to make that work with the pin's back story etc.
posted by revikim at 4:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes. Hell Yes.
posted by odinsdream at 4:02 PM on November 15, 2011


What's the point of linking the BR trailer then? I apologize if it wasn't your intention, but practically anytime I see BR brought up with respect to THG, people want to say Collins ripped off BR.
posted by kmz at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2011


It's a movie based on a YA novel, dude. I am reasonably sure you are not the target demographic.

Although, my 43 year old husband read the series ravenously. He's not much of a fiction reader in general so he may just be an outlier.
posted by padraigin at 4:08 PM on November 15, 2011


Katniss has more of a personality in that trailer than she does in the entirety of the three books combined.

My skepticism about the film is waning!
posted by anaximander at 4:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's the point of linking the BR trailer then? I apologize if it wasn't your intention, but practically anytime I see BR brought up with respect to THG, people want to say Collins ripped off BR.

I didn't know the first thing about the Hunger Games before watching this trailer but it's incredibly reminiscent of Battle Royale. Is this a controversy that's been resolved?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:11 PM on November 15, 2011


Hi everyone, I made an early comment that said I was totally ignorant of the content of this thing, but it was positive and I really want to read them and I think they seem neat I just haven't put any time into it because I'm lazy! I'm sorry if my comment gave anyone license to act like their own ignorance and laziness is a reason to shit on something!
posted by shakespeherian at 4:12 PM on November 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think they could get away with a PG-13 rating by cutting to the reaction of the audience back in the districts/ in the capitol when there's really violent stuff going on.

I suspect that's what they'll do, but I think that will be really disappointing. I really liked the novels for their willingness to confront our cultural love of violence by amplifying it and applying it to children, and cutting away from it reduces that critique. I think it'll make the tone "aw that's so sad that this character died" when it should be on the inherent weirdness of violence and reality tv. I think part of the reason the novels are so successful is because they assume their primary audiences is not too young to wrestle with those issues, and softening the violence in the movie could blunt that appeal.
posted by lilac girl at 4:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


seconding what villanelles said. Just like this thread is making me aware of these books, there are probably people who haven't heard of BR.
posted by mannequito at 4:15 PM on November 15, 2011


Why is this ad different from all other ads?

Seriously. It's an ad. One that will be EVERYWHERE for the next 4 freaking months. Why are we contributing to its exposure? What discussion could possibly take place that wouldn't be more timely when the movie actually came out? Why feed the wasteful hype machine?
posted by cyphill at 4:16 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is this complaint about an ad different from all other complaints about ads?

Seriously. It's an ad. Your complaint is in EVERY thread on the whole freaking site. Why are you mucking up a discussion people want to have?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


OK, having no experience with the books at all and learning the plot from the trailer, this looks incredibly silly and seems like it has a better-than-even chance of being really bad.

It's a movie based on a YA novel, dude. I am reasonably sure you are not the target demographic.


I recently watched I Am Number Four, also a movie based on a YA novel. Holy shit. Terrible movie. I was completely not its target demographic.
posted by hippybear at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Battle Royale is awful and THG is barely passable - perhaps the movie will be alright though.
posted by zeoslap at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2011


Hi everyone, I made an early comment that said I was totally ignorant of the content of this thing, but it was positive and I really want to read them and I think they seem neat I just haven't put any time into it because I'm lazy! I'm sorry if my comment gave anyone license to act like their own ignorance and laziness is a reason to shit on something!

What? Are you joking or is this a passive-aggressive jab at other posters in this thread, who you haven't named and who you do not deign to address?

Apologies if I'm not getting this.
posted by grobstein at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW this may end up being a very good movie and the books may also be really good, but this...

It's a movie based on a YA novel, dude.

...should not inoculate it from criticism.
Especially since I suspect there's very few YA's running around in the blue here.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the trailer makes it clear that this is only aimed at fans of the books. I have barely more of an idea what this is about than I did before watching it, except there’s going to be a lot of teen angst.

I always assumed this was a Twilight thing, but apparently it’s about…forced waxing and being sad before you go on American Idol?
posted by bongo_x at 4:21 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


First time watching I was worried by the pervading blueness by watching it again makes me think they've largely avoided the all-pervasive dreaded Teal and Orange fad.

But yeah there's basically no way they can keep to the spirit of the book with PG13 but it can still be a decent film.

'Read' the books a few months back, well did the audios... they've pretty good and insanely addictive
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:24 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, not trying to shit on the thread or the fans of the book, if that was directed at me. I'm curious about kmz's remark that the Battle Royale connection gets brought up repeatedly; presumably there's an explanation for how it's not a ripoff or why we shouldn't care, guess I could ask google but I figured the thread was a good place to educate myself.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:25 PM on November 15, 2011


<>

I’m with this. I don’t quite get the adults reading YA books that seems to be so popular these days. There’s "don’t be a snob, it’s really well done and great for adults", but then if someone says it seems silly or immature then it’s "It’s for kids, don’t be a jerk". The YA label sometimes seems like an excuse for bad writing, and an excuse to read bad writing to me. If Dan Brown put teenagers in his novels he wouldn’t get any criticism.
posted by bongo_x at 4:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's the point of linking the BR trailer then?

It's a very similar thing. I'm sorry if there's some raging internet debate I'm unaware invoking.

They're all ripping off Theseus and the Minotaur anyway.
posted by cmoj at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wasn't trying to be passive aggressive, sorry, and I wasn't directing anything at anyone. After I made my initial comment I remembered how threads about bits of media tend to go, and I worried that the beginning of my comment would be taken as tone-setting for the sorts of people who like to pop into threads to say 'I've never heard of this. It looks stupid.'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Collins has apparently said she hadn'd heard of BR before she finished writing the book. Make of that what you will.
posted by revikim at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2011


Well, the Harry Potter books were all YA novels, and they ended up being one of the biggest achievements of motion picture creation in cinema history.

(I mean, seriously... EIGHT movies with basically the same cast across all of them, spanning over a decade of filming? When has that ever been done before?)
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


(and, cmoj, according to the author, the Hunger games books are inspired by Theseus and the Minotaur)
posted by revikim at 4:29 PM on November 15, 2011


So the trailer makes it clear that this is only aimed at fans of the books.

Yeah, pretty much... I imagine, as with a lot of publicity champaigns nowadays, they'll put out a second trailer that gives away more of the plot nearer the release.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:30 PM on November 15, 2011


should not inoculate it from criticism.

My point isn't that it should somehow be above all possible criticism, my point was that you, an adult male, are probably not the target demographic for a movie based on a book read primarily by teenage girls.

(i will feel stupid if you are actually a ladyperson.)
posted by elizardbits at 4:31 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point isn't that it should somehow be above all possible criticism, my point was that you, an adult male, are probably not the target demographic for a movie based on a book read primarily by teenage girls.

That doesn't explain my Babysitter's Club tattoo.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:32 PM on November 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yes, we're all still waiting for an explanation for that.
posted by hippybear at 4:33 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


not buying the tequila excuse again either.
posted by elizardbits at 4:34 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


(I mean, seriously... EIGHT movies with basically the same cast across all of them, spanning over a decade of filming? When has that ever been done before?)

Kwan Tak Hing's Wong Fei Huang movies

Granted, different era, lower budgets, but yeah, it's been done.
posted by yeloson at 4:34 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd tell you but it would violate the first two rules of Babysitter's Club
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:34 PM on November 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


They're all ripping off Theseus and the Minotaur anyway.

The author is very up front about doing exactly that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:36 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


not buying the tequila excuse again either.

God if anyone ever said that to me in real life I think I'd cry.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:37 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want this series to crush Twilight in the box office so fucking badly, oh my god. CRUSH.

I'm only passingly familiar with the Twilight books and movies, but I have read the first HG novel. The Hunger Games is not great art, so I don't see any real schadenfreude in it "crushing" Twilight.

I had two basic problems with it. Ok, three. It is--as many have pointed out--not at all original. Battle Royale, Stephen King's The Long Walk, and of course Lord of the Flies all mixed up together give you something like The Hunger Games. Plus a little Harlequin Romance, but more on that later.

Second, it's violent. Really, really violent. I don't have a problem with art using violence to teach a lesson about violence, of which there are countless good examples in film and literature. To pick a random one, Full Metal Jacket is violent, but it has a message about the violence, but if The Hunger Games has a message about violence, I must've missed it. The characters are cold-blooded and don't really seem to question the world they've been put it; they have no moral arc.

The main character has a very emo, teenage, mopey sort of romance with a boy, which is probably ok on its own merits, but feels very out of place in such a violent atmosphere. As much flak as it gets here on the blue, I'd rather recommend Ender's Game, which, for all its faults, does a much better job addressing the nature of violence and the manipulation of children.

Having said all that, as a film it may stand on its own merits, as all films should. I haven't seen any Gary Ross films (Pleasantville and Seabiscuit), but they seem pretty well regarded, so this may very well be a solid work.
posted by zardoz at 4:37 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd tell you but it would violate the first two rules of Babysitter's Club

Isn't that the Babyhitters Club?
posted by mannequito at 4:37 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Battle Royale is a beautiful film and this looks kinda cheesy over designed dystopia. I mean those beards? Never read the books, just calling it as I see it.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:37 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Ah or maybe not then."

Snobbery against any and all young adult fiction is inappropriate these days. The last, oh, fifteen years or so have seen a number of surprisingly high-quality books written for the YA market that are better-realized and better-written than a great majority of adult genre novels. I've not read The Hunger Games, but, for example, I've read the Chaos Walking series and it was very good.

A couple of other good books I've read over the last few years which were written ostensibly for juvenile audiences are The Walls of the Universe and The Underneath.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:38 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh god those silly, silly beards.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:39 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's the deal. If you've like the Hunger Games for any decent amount of time, you've gotten used to people hopping into the conversation and saying, 'Oh, that's just like Battle Royale/Running Man etc. What a ripoff." They do it every single time, and it's just elements, people! Sometimes popular things have the same elements as other popular things, but that does not make any or both things irrelevant. Stories where people get divorced! Stories with magical schools! Stories with talking animals! Stories with a young protagonist with a special birthright and wise old mentor!

I'm going to say that a large amount of Hunger Games fans have not lived under cultural rocks until the moment they picked up Collins' books. The tone and the big picture of Collins' story is completely unlike the things people keep comparing it too, but it gets tiring when those fresh people pop in once again to point out the similarities.
posted by redsparkler at 4:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [25 favorites]


The characters are cold-blooded and don't really seem to question the world they've been put it; they have no moral arc.

You really need to read the whole trilogy because that's addressed in the later books.

cheesy over designed dystopia. I mean those beards

That's deliberate.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:44 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The characters are cold-blooded and don't really seem to question the world they've been put in

I have my own problems with the books (I think the third one is really weak and the political/economic/geographic world she imagines is kinda silly), but this statement is bizarrely off the mark.
posted by yoink at 4:44 PM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't have a problem with art using violence to teach a lesson about violence, of which there are countless good examples in film and literature.

I mean, I'm totally not down with exploitative violence or violence played for sheer cool, but I think you're being unnecessarily limiting on art to dictate how it must use its varied aspects. Kill Bill isn't about violence, but is extremely violent; however, it uses its violence to explore gender roles and the markers of a standard revenge narrative as metaphor for self-determination and psychosexual mores. Scott Pilgrim has a great deal of violence, and isn't about violence, but rather is a literalization of the emotional struggles of a romantic relationship. Etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:45 PM on November 15, 2011


So what's the big picture?

If it's about the media/desensitization to violence/reality TV culture then it actually IS just like Running Man.

If so, that's not the same as two stories having divorces in them. It's the the same as two stories having sinking Titanics in them
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:46 PM on November 15, 2011


Zardoz, did you read all 3 of the books? I thought the escalation of events was dreadful and absolutely spot on, surprisingly so for the demographic. The fact that small acts of rebellion can inspire people to their deaths, the fact that there are no easy solutions and no one ever really wins a war...pretty epic stuff.
posted by redsparkler at 4:46 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


How can you like O Brother Where Art Thou? Homer totally did it first.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:47 PM on November 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Titanic was totally a ripoff of the Unsinkable Molly Brown.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:47 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyone who is concerned/intrigued by casting Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss should watch Winter's Bone immediately.

I have not read the books, but based on the trailer, I would watch this movie.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:49 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked The Hunger Games fine, but the first person present tense narration that made the first book so visceral and fast made the second two insufferable. There was an interesting story being told there, but we had to experience it from the vantage point of a teenage girl who's really not sure who she wants her boyfriend to be. Terrible.

And even that would've been more tolerable if the whole love triangle hadn't been framed explicitly in terms of who Katniss felt "deserved" her.

And even THAT would've been more tolerable if her choice had ultimately made any sense.

And, yes, even THAT would've been less insufferable if the worldbuilding of the entire trilogy had made any kind of coherent sense at all.

I actually think the films have a fighting chance of remedying the books' most serious missteps, and hope they're good, and do well. Despite my reservations w/r/t their success as works of speculative fiction, they're fun teen lit and basically sound, in a way that the Twilight books to which they're inevitably compared aren't.
posted by pts at 4:51 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am waiting for Childhood's Ender's Hunger Games . . . in which the Overlords' psychic progeny gird themselves for an alien invasion by selecting youthful champions, who must prove themselves by impulsively consuming every single product of a multimedia franchise, regardless of how derivative it may appear or how likely they are to complain.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:51 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am reminded of this underappreciated comment from a thread about Harry Potter.
posted by peep at 4:52 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having never read any of the books, this trailer actually made me want to. Mission accomplished.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:52 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


shortly after the first time i read the second book, i dreamt that they cast shia leboeuf as finnick odair.

i woke up screaming.
posted by elizardbits at 4:56 PM on November 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


redsparkler said it better than I could, but it's something I see in lots of situations, not just THG/BR. Harry Potter/Books of Magic/Ponder Stibbons, and Firefly/Cowboy Bebop/Outlaw Star, off the top of my head.

Not that there aren't actual plagiarists and rip-off artists out there. *cough*Eragon*cough*
posted by kmz at 5:02 PM on November 15, 2011


Here's the deal. If you've like the Hunger Games for any decent amount of time, you've gotten used to people hopping into the conversation and saying, 'Oh, that's just like Battle Royale/Running Man etc. What a ripoff." They do it every single time, and it's just elements, people!

Yeah, characterizing this as a ripoff of Running Man or whatever strikes me as similar to rolling one's eyes at the Superbowl because there was already a Superbowl LAST year. What can you do, people like the occasional recapitulation of an interesting literary / cultural idea.
posted by rkent at 5:03 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone who is concerned/intrigued by casting Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss should watch Winter's Bone immediately.

Then watch X-men: First Class and get very concerned again.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:03 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know nothing of this series, but I hope they don't screw it up ; D
posted by LoudMusic at 5:03 PM on November 15, 2011


I don't think anyone came out of X-Men Babies looking very good.
posted by padraigin at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2011


I'm pretty stunned how different Jennifer Lawrence looks with brown curly hair. She basically goes from Victoria's Secret model to cute, but unremarkable 16 year old.

Not realizing who she was from the trailer, I actually thought oh what a nice departure that they didn't go with a cliche model/actress. That isn't an insult to her, I'm just amazed by the difference.

And I like the books a lot, haven't finished them all yet, but the only thing that annoys me is the almost endless martyrdom of Katniss. The girl can't eat a piece of bread without beating herself up for the smallest hint of selfishness. I realize it's intergral to the plot, but sometimes I want her to be a more real, multi dimensional, person.
posted by whoaali at 5:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Movie went off the rails but Michael Fassbender was excellent. James McAvoy was pretty good. Everyone else was straight up bad. January Jones was unbelievably bad.

Anyway, Jennifer Lawrence was indeed excellent in Winter's Bone. She clearly has chops when directed well.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone came out of X-Men Babies looking very good.


Um, yeah they did.
That was a very well-reviewed film.
It's just that Lawrence wasnt very good in it and January Jones proved that playing Mrs. Draper as vacant probably wasnt an acting choice.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]



I should say, accent aside, Fassbender was excellent
sorry for derail

posted by nathancaswell at 5:10 PM on November 15, 2011


As a fan of the books, one thing that grabbed me about the trailer is the unexpected gravity they gave to Effie's appearance. Despite her outfit, the expression on her face belongs to a person far less frivolous than the Effie of the first part of the book.

I found it chilling in a "shit just got real" way; she clearly takes her role as a person brining punishment seriously. But you can also sense what may be heaviness of heart that foreshadows the humanity that begins to peak through as the series progresses.

I'm impressed.
posted by treepour at 5:12 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Collins has apparently said she hadn'd heard of BR before she finished writing the book. Make of that what you will.

Well, I personally call bullshit on this. But whatever. There's nothing new under the sun. Everything is derivative in one way or another, and themes and concepts will be shared and repeated. What makes new works good is the execution.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear, Collins said she wasn't familiar with BR, but was instead copying from Theseus and the minotaur, which BR itself resembles. And THG is, in fact, closer to Theseus than to BR, I think. She never said that oh no, it was all her own idea.
posted by tyllwin at 5:34 PM on November 15, 2011


I'm still wondering how this is going to be PG-13.

I don't know; you can show a hell of a lot of violence and still get PG-13. What you can't show is any nudity or sex. IIRC there were only a few scenes in the book that would probably need to be changed to avoid nudity, and there's no actual sex that I remember (definitely not in the first book).

There are a lot of war movies that show intense graphic violence and only manage to pull a PG-13, as long as they don't swear too much or show any nudity. (I remember quite a few people being surprised that Saving Private Ryan got an R when it was released.)

But the more introspective the film is about violence, and thus the more attention it draws to it -- versus just glossing over it as normal, in the action-movie fashion -- then the more risk I suspect there will be of having to tone it down to avoid the dreaded 'R'.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:38 PM on November 15, 2011


I first heard of this movie/book series this morning and this trailer was my first real glimpse into what it's all about. My initial reaction was to relate it to King's The Long Walk. Then I realized it's been done many times before. But I guess I totally missed that it was targeted to young adults.
posted by RobMaule at 6:00 PM on November 15, 2011


(I remember quite a few people being surprised that Saving Private Ryan got an R when it was released.)

O_o I find that really hard to believe. Unless they mean that they thought it would be NC-17.
posted by kmz at 6:19 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then I realized it's been done many times before.

I bid 400 quatloos on the newcomer.

(Plus, there's every gladiatorial thing ever throughout past millenia.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:42 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The idea that an author could only have come up with this premise if she'd stolen it from Battle Royale is laughably ridiculous.
posted by straight at 6:49 PM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I absolutely loved the Hunger Games. I work at a bookstore that specializes in children's and YA literature, and we've been selling it quite steadily for as long as I've been working there (a couple of months). It's been a great point of discussion with coworkers and customers.

I'm hoping the stuff that I like carries through in the movies, and it looks like it might (though I do wish they'd cast Katniss and Gale with nonwhite actors, since they're supposed to be brown in comparison to Prim and Peeta). I'm a big fan of YA fiction, I almost exclusively read YA fantasy and sci-fi, and I thought Hunger Games was great, and I'm AMAZED it's become as popular as it has. I love that it's a story with a female main character that's largely straight-up action, at least in the first book, and I'm seeing as many boys read it as girls. My boss (who's been a bookseller for ages) read it and thought, damn that was good it is not going to sell at all, and so she was pleasantly surprised when it gained the amount of momentum it has.

I know it's drawing constant comparison with Twilight-- which I guess is what happens when you write a popular YA story with a love triangle in it (well, now you do that and it gets compared to Hunger Games, see Matched), but Hunger Games can function as a YA Dystopia 101 in a sort of The Giver-esque way; sort of the 1984 to Giver's Brave New World. The Hunger Games (the first book, I mean, not the whole series) is the sort of stomach-churning action book that is hard to put down, but it puts us in a world that is really interestingly explored for the rest of the series, and it looks like the movie has some of the parts that I really like about that. The aesthetic is properly, well, weird, with that facial hair and the clothes and stuff; not the traditional "THIS IS THE FUTURE" thing but a bit if a spin on it, at least.

I think there's a sort of metafictional element of the Hunger Games that is interesting and a bit sickening to me, and that's the fact that the entire point of the Games themselves is to act as a warning to the Districts but also entertainment to the Capital. This is why they aren't pure action, they go into the sickening parts of this war (the Jabberjays, the Tracker Jackers and the other mutts as the creations of her universe and the universals of death and destruction and loss and betrayal and PTSD and sexualization of children and all the other stuff that Panem and the real world have in common), but there's something uncomfortable about seeing it on a screen as entertainment, because somehow I feel like it's putting myself in the Capital's shoes. I felt this way about the book, too, and I think it's the good kind of uncomfortable, the part that if it works right it leaves a bit of a knot in the pit of your stomach when you're done with it.

But there's a bit (this is a minor spoiler) in Catching Fire where you learn that the people of the Capital have started putting on Mockingjay stuff, because while the Mockingjay is this symbol of revolution and solidarity in the rebelling Districts, it's just this symbol of a really exciting bit of reality TV to the Capital, and so they're putting it on their wristwatches and necklaces, because it's so cool. And so I saw the Hunger Games nail polish and I got that knot in my stomach, that, hey, I'm the people in the Capital, I'm watching this for fun, and I'm going to wear this symbol of it because of how exciting it is.

I know there's a lot of flaws in that whole line of thinking-- they're books, not reality-- and I'm probably not stating everything clearly; none of this is an attack on fans *at all*, I'm a fan, or of people buying merch or anything. It's just I think I have an It's Complicated relationship with media that is explicitly a criticism of media and entertainment but is still entertaining media. On the other hand, movie! Shiny!
posted by NoraReed at 6:57 PM on November 15, 2011 [49 favorites]


I'm not a HUGE fangirl of The Hunger Games -- I enjoyed them quite a bit, though the first more than the second, and the second more than the third -- but I absolutely can't wait for this film. I write for teens and watching the trilogy take off, and now the impending film create so much buzz outside our industry's echo chamber, has been really exciting to watch. Not because The Hunger Games is the very best of what YA has to offer, but because it's pretty damn good, and dark and complex and very timely, and appealing to boys as well as girls, and men and women besides. I tell you, it gets old, talking to those unfamiliar with the age group, who upon hearing I write for teens say, "oh, like Twilight!" (...or "like The Baby-Sitter's Club!" it's happened.) Now some say, "oh, like The Hunger Games!" Which is also not a yes, but at least it's kinda cool, not embarrassing.
posted by changeling at 7:12 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


If this is anywhere near as awesome as The Great Outdoor Fight, it's gonna rule.
posted by Maaik at 7:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really enjoyed the first HG, but thought it was a rapid downhill slide from there. It felt as if Collins wasn't really sure where to take her story once the initial games were concluded. The worldbuilding in two and three was fairly sketchy, the political commentary heavy-handed (yes, war is terrible. Yes, we know), the love triangle dragged out to the detriment of Katniss's character. Collins is fond of subtly breaking the fourth wall and lecturing her audience, too, something I'm not-so-fond of.

The movie looks terrific, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've only read the first book, which kept me up most of the night because I couldn't stop. The casting looks great and, without spoiling anything, I just teared up again when I saw a certain character. Yeah, y'all know who it is. Damn.
posted by nickgb at 7:24 PM on November 15, 2011


though I do wish they'd cast Katniss and Gale with nonwhite actors, since they're supposed to be brown in comparison to Prim and Peeta

There was a huge controversy online about not casting a woman of color for the role of Katniss, and to be honest, I never quite got the source of the outrage here. It seemed in some corners to be bundled into some earlier scandals about the whitewashing of characters on the covers of YA novels, cases that had truly been egregious misrepresentations of how the characters were described in the books. But Katniss's race was never specified -- she was described as having olive-toned skin -- and since her sister and mother were blond and blue-eyed, I assumed that she was a white girl with an olive complexion.

Rue and Thresh, on the other hand, were specifically described as having dark brown skin. On that note, Racialicious has an interesting and depressing piece on the "surprise" of fans upon discovering that people of color had been cast for these roles.
posted by artemisia at 7:28 PM on November 15, 2011


I don't know anything about these books but I wanted to make sure other people were as disappointed as I was in the facial hair that happens at 1:49.
posted by SharkParty at 7:30 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


so like do they fight the tyranny and kill the woman who drew their names?
posted by four panels at 7:33 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am so happy that they didn't make the trailer about the love triangle. It gives me hope for the movies.
posted by spec80 at 7:46 PM on November 15, 2011


Wow, that trailer was more awesome than I was expecting. And I had some reservations about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, but it looks like she'll be amazing. I guess I should probably get around to watching Winter's Bone.

I'm not a huge fan of the series as a whole, but I did really like the first book. It was too bad it was such a slide downhill to Mockingjay. The nonsensical lengths the worldbuilding went to, Katniss's unbearability as a narrator, the horribly clunky execution of the love triangle...ugh, Mockingjay had such potential, but it just fell entirely flat for me. I really wish the rest of the series had stayed more in the vein of The Hunger Games, or that it had ditched the first-person present tense POV. It was a great choice to have the reader be in Katniss's head for the first book. For Catching Fire and Mockingjay, it was limiting and disappointing.
posted by yasaman at 8:04 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My take on these books is that Collins had enough for about 1.5 great books.

She spent 1 of those "great book" credits on The Hunger Games.

She spent 0.5 of those credits to write the (very good) Catching Fire.

Her tank was empty on Mocking Jay.

That said, I'm very much looking forward to this movie.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:10 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a great choice to have the reader be in Katniss's head for the first book. For Catching Fire and Mockingjay, it was limiting and disappointing

Mostly because Katniss was either depressed, injured or otherwise out of commission during some of the most pivotal scenes in Mockingjay.
posted by changeling at 8:17 PM on November 15, 2011


Yeah, the first half of Catching Fire was even fantastic. I mean, I cried during one early scene. But then she just repeated what had made the first book special, thereby making both books considerably . . . less.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 PM on November 15, 2011


The girl can't eat a piece of bread without beating herself up for the smallest hint of selfishness. I realize it's intergral to the plot, but sometimes I want her to be a more real, multi dimensional, person.

A couple of people have said something like this, and I guess I just have a different perspective. When I read Katniss, what I read is constant, raging, skull-bashing depression. I read someone who, due to the circumstances of her childhood, has learned to live constantly in fight-or-flight mentality. No, that's not a three dimensional personality, but depression itself turns a person two dimensional. I actually rather appreciated that the story featured (a) a girl who (b) is strong and powerful and competent but (c) is still psychologically scarred in a realistic way.

And so I saw the Hunger Games nail polish and I got that knot in my stomach, that, hey, I'm the people in the Capital, I'm watching this for fun, and I'm going to wear this symbol of it because of how exciting it is.

Yeah, I found the novels hard to read because it seemed so very, very obvious that we're the Capital. As an American, I'm one of the people who gets to flounce around with silly hair cuts and wear expensive clothes and eat super-rich foods, because there are all those other people out there in the world who are enslaved (or practically so) and suffering. It's not a pleasant message, but it's an important one.
posted by meese at 8:35 PM on November 15, 2011 [34 favorites]


meese, that's really-well put.
posted by changeling at 8:36 PM on November 15, 2011


I will be seeing this and dragging my husband.


/spoilers maybe?



I read all three in somewhat of a rush (they were borrowed) and I have to say that I kind of ended up liking Mockingjay the best, though I understand why others have the opposite reaction. The first book felt too much like a standard, if violent, action novel, and the second was very similar, but the third had a sort of bitter honesty you don't expect in a YA novel. Even a good one. Coups, even justified ones, are not happy endings and seldom happen peacefully, and Collins explores that in a way I didn't expect.

There were clunky bits, for sure, but I thought it was kind of funny the way she took the common YA conceit of a romance and turned it into a meta-plot-point for the characters; their relationship was forced to become a performance, and again, there was not a simple happy ending for any of them.

And of course, Katniss is simply a badass, period.
posted by emjaybee at 8:38 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rue and Thresh, on the other hand, were specifically described as having dark brown skin. On that note, Racialicious has an interesting and depressing piece on the "surprise" of fans upon discovering that people of color had been cast for these roles.

I have to admit that I didn't pick this up as I was reading the novels, either... but now that I know it I'm recalling, wasn't Rue's angle or advantage in the games that she could swing from tree to tree without touching the ground and scamper up and hide in the branches? And according to the wiki linked to from that page, District 11 where she and Thresh were from is where the cotton was harvested along with other agricultural stuff for the civilization.

One of the reasons I was impressed with the Hunger Games Trilogy was that it seems very well engineered for its purpose and target market, English-speaking young adults at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. I think it has all the right polished and elegantly-articulated pieces I would expect a YA novel to have, calibrated for people here and now, blending in with the cultural landscape and catering to our tastes. So in an otherwise cleanly fashioned, well-designed product, picking the two characters with roles a bit like racist stereotypes as the ones to explicitly describe as black seems... not intentional, I shouldn't think, but kind of out of place.
posted by XMLicious at 8:44 PM on November 15, 2011


Oops, the above probably also needs </spoilers maybe>
posted by XMLicious at 8:46 PM on November 15, 2011


... but apparently it’s about…forced waxing and being sad before you go on American Idol?

I loved the books, and this is pretty much correct.
posted by odinsdream at 8:49 PM on November 15, 2011


The girl can't eat a piece of bread without beating herself up for the smallest hint of selfishness.

LOL it's funny because it's true. About the bread. Literally.
posted by odinsdream at 8:55 PM on November 15, 2011


Oh, there's another thing I thought about the Capitol when I was reading it..

(Possible spoilers below, depending on how big you're into having NOTHING spoiled.)

It's significant that the book takes place in the future United States. For American readers, at any rate. It means that the characters who are enslaved and suffering are us in a way that is not common for Americans. Put it in some dystopia unrelated to the United States, and it's just yet another unpleasant fantasy of how-the-world-isn't. Put the novel someplace other than the US, and readers can think of it all through the gaze of what-happens-to-people-not-like-me. We're used to reading about horrors and tragedy in other places. We're used to the idea that the people who suffer live elsewhere, culturally and geographically separate from us.

But, no. It's not some fantastic other-place. It's not some geographically remote other-place. It's here. It's (fictionally) our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren (I forget how distant in the future it's supposed to be). It's the people who inhabit the same space as us, who inherited the world from us. That, I think, help supports the gigantic, painful social commentary of the novels.
posted by meese at 8:58 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


But, no. It's not some fantastic other-place. It's not some geographically remote other-place. It's here.

This is really weirdly true. When I read The Handmaid's Tale I was at first like 'Oh shit this could be us!' and then I learned that Margaret Atwood is Canadian and-- I shit you not-- my brain went 'Oh don't worry, this is like Toronto or something.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


I would have thought PG13 will be just fine.. the books are pretty tame on the violence part, most of the suffering is dehydration etc. I was imaging Battle Royal, so the "game chapters" were pretty harmless.
posted by lundman at 9:15 PM on November 15, 2011


A quick parental comment here because I have not seen anyone else mention it. As a parent with three teens, holder of an English degree, and a former bookstore employee, I am thankful for the "quality" YA fiction that come out this past decade. While far from perfect as pieces of literature, Collins (and Rowling, and Pullman) manage to mix good storytelling with big issues. The "emo" dimension is a basic part of being a human teen that does not disappear in the face of things like ... fascism. I had a great conversation with my 13 year old daughter about how foreign it felt reading a book about war and battle written by woman for girls -- it had a different feel that I could not quite put my finger on. I don't need to tell them that these books are about Hitler or Stalin, they figure that out by the time they take AP Euro History, and in the meantime they are starting to see that they are agents and have a relationship to the state. So many good conversations!

Strangely enough, my daughter's first reaction to the trailer (after OMGOMG) was "what's the rating." Even she understands that the unfiltered violence is essential. Weird feeling proud of that.
posted by cgk at 9:23 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Taking the trailer purely on its merits as a trailer (I'm unfamiliar with the source material myself); I like it, and it makes me interested in seeing the movie, but I think a lot of that is the deft use of an excellent and appropriate song to score it, which buoys the other positive aspects of the trailer a lot (expressive performances, thoughtfully-designed sets, intriguing premise). Divorced from that (or simply with a mediocre song in its place) I'm not sure this trailer would really capture my interest at all; it cuts a lot, and not smoothly, to cram a lot of exposition into a small amount of time, and it's hard to find its 'through-line' without the song anchoring it together.

But yeah, could be great. Interested in checking it out.
posted by churl at 9:36 PM on November 15, 2011


I had a great conversation with my 13 year old daughter about how foreign it felt reading a book about war and battle written by woman for girls -- it had a different feel that I could not quite put my finger on.

you should hook your daughter up with some Ursula Le Guin....
posted by msalt at 9:39 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What struck me most when I read The Hunger Games was how immediately I was pulled in.

20 pages in, you'd assume 'You must barely know these characters, let alone have established any sort of emotional attachment to them!' and yet, when the events at The Reaping occurred it felt like such a gut punch. I remember tearing up and in doing so, getting momentarily pulled out of the book to be surprised by it.

Collins has a bit of a gift for that - even when the characters themselves are a bit thin, she's very talented at making the reader feel the weight of their circumstances anyway.
posted by pseudonymph at 10:57 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would have thought PG13 will be just fine.. the books are pretty tame on the violence part, most of the suffering is dehydration etc.

I think you read different books than I. I haven't returned the first one to the person I borrowed it from yet (tsk, tsk) so I picked it up just to confirm I wasn't imagining things.

Spoilerish level of detail follows...
















At one point an opponent pins the protagonist to the ground and instead of killing her begins torturing her by carving her face up with a knife. Shortly thereafter the torturer's head is caved in with a rock.

One of the groups of characters is constructing IEDs partway through the story. I didn't find it but I thought I remembered someone being killed that way.

An opponent is killed by having a hive of insects dropped on her. The corpse is described as having swollen to several times its original size and covered in bursting pustules, with the muscles locked up in some kind of rigor mortis type thing so that Katniss has to break bones to get to something clenched in the decedent's hand.

One of the other competitors is cornered and torn apart by dogs, except that they're actually Island-of-Doctor-Moreau-type intelligent monsters and instead of killing him they torture him continuously over an entire night within hearing distance of the other characters. When it begins to get light and they can see well enough to read his lips they see that he's begging to be killed, so they shoot him through the head at a distance Daniel Day-Lewis style.


And that's just the first book and only what I could find in a cursory search. Unless the viewer is the kind of person who watches gorefest horror movies and battlefield trauma center documentaries with glee all the time I don't think anyone is going to consider that tame, so the various eliding strategies people are suggesting above will have to be used (or they'll have to just cut this kind of stuff out) if there's to be any hope of a PG-13 rating.
posted by XMLicious at 11:09 PM on November 15, 2011


Battle Royale reminded me of dodge ball, or tag, or hide and seek, or the spelling bee, except kids get killed instead of sidelined. Battle Royale's not particularly new other than its fetishism toward mechanized violence meted out by teenagers.

These stories strike me as fundamentally gladiatorial, like the cage match last man standing WWF matches I never watched as a kid because you needed pay per view.

Further, Battle Royale is a very insular, cultish book that 99% of Americans have never heard of. Sure, manga and Japanese DVD enthusiasts that are all in your close circle of friends may all know it, but it's actually pretty damn esoteric. Hard to believe, but it's true.

On the other hand, everybody's seen Death Race 2000.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:10 PM on November 15, 2011


even when the characters themselves are a bit thin, she's very talented at making the reader feel the weight of their circumstances anyway.

THIS. I actually was sitting there thinking after rereading Catching Fire about which characters I liked and I realized I actually didn't like ANY of the characters except Finnick and Cinna. I thought they were good, and I loved watching them-- and I guess I sympathized with them enough to get that same punched in the gut feeling when bad shit happens (which is every 3 seconds, approximately), but I am the kind of person that gets really really, really attached to characters, particularly in emotionally manipulative YA fiction*. HG didn't inspire that in me.

Mockingjay spoilers ahoy --> I thought the first was the quickest and I guess most... engaging? Is that the word? But I liked watching everything fall apart, I thought setting all of this up for Katniss and then seeing her get out and everything still suck and fall apart and watching her have to actually deal with not being a leader or being able to fix everything but being put at the front of the movement as a symbol... that was great. Gale was revolutionary, she was just, you know, *there*. And I thought the depiction of PTSD was really good-- I don't know how accurate it was, but I am a total sucker for heroes that get sort of broken after their day in the limelight, and seeing Katniss actually go through all of that on screen instead of off camera in some epilogue was really interesting to me. The romance was a bit tedious, to me-- and I say that as someone who usually eats that kind of thing up**-- I think because I didn't like Peeta's power of manipulation; he made me uneasy, and I liked Gale as a character but personally not so much. (He probably would've been a lot more interesting without the romance, but I guess you needed it for plot.)

My favorite character was Finnick, though, and you get to see both him and the other Tributes be a lot more interesting in Mockingjay. (Johanna Mason is interesting too.) But mostly it's that I liked the heroine becoming basically a tool used by other people and having to choose between bad and worse leaders. I also liked Dragon Age 2 as much as Origins, though, because I liked being forced into moral conflicts without good answers and watching my heroes realize that they're sort of shitty as far as heroics is concerned. I'll stick around with a story that has stuff wrong with it, story-wise, if it's doing something interesting, I guess.

*I cried through basically all of the last HP movie. I already knew what happened, and that was enough. I think they could've animated everything past 20 minutes in with finger puppets and a 10 year old doing stupid voices and I would not have noticed. I have been writing and reading angsty fanfiction since I was like 12. About things that did not need angst added, because they were shit like Invader Zim. I could probably be compelled to look up fanfiction for houseplants with thought bubble post-it notes talking about how sad they are about their tragic pasts.

**I liked Matched and Crossed and once in HS my then-boyfriend and I read the romantic parts of Amber Spyglass to each other on one of those hyped-up-on-hormones late-night sweet things you do when you're 18 and in love and then I made him marzipan.

posted by NoraReed at 11:15 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nice commentary Nora and XMLicious, my shorter version is this:

Daughter said I should read the book, and it was marginally interesting, and I figured "OK, one of these kids will draw blood and then they will all sit down and hold hands and practice civil disobedience and then WTF" in the span of 10 pages half a dozen characters have been eviscerated. I am a sucker for emotional manipulation and grand narrative archetypes but many times I incorrectly guessed what was going to come next unlike when reading Rowling or Pullman or Dan Brown. Looking forward to seeing this.
posted by cgk at 11:45 PM on November 15, 2011


To my taste, the first HG book is almost perfect in its craft -- the events unfold as effortlessly as, say, The Year of Living Dangerously (the Peter Weir film) which I loved. Not a bit of clunky exposition, despite describing a radically different universe. If I were teaching a fiction course, I would be tempted to teach it and diagram the final, "objective" universe depicted vs. how this information unfolds in the narrative. I was fascinated how many key points she was able to leave unexplained (for a while) without hurting the effect.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay? Um, they show the strength of HG's craft by comparison. Maybe like the musician's sophmore slump, 10 years to write the first book and 6 months for the followup.
posted by msalt at 12:20 AM on November 16, 2011


Haymitch better be played by Mad-Eye Moody.
posted by lubujackson at 12:34 AM on November 16, 2011


I envisioned Snow as looking more like Robert Blake in Lost Highway. Donald Sutherland seems to genteel and likable for the role. With a little, you know--acting, Sutherland would have been a great Haymitch whereas I see Woody as being a little too healthy looking for that role.

On the PG-13 thing, there's going to be significant cutting away from the violence, those kind of things happening to kids and teens are just not going to be shown graphically. There's also a pretty important scene in the book of Katniss being denuded and judged by a team of stylists that's going to lose some of its power in a PG-13 world. I just hope they don't turn it into a Cathy cartoon which the preview kind of suggests, "waxing GAHH!"
posted by Locobot at 12:45 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


XMLicious

Sure yeah, just finished book 1 two days ago. But nearly all the killing are "off camera". Hell, the first 11 deaths we are just told about from the cannons.

So, I equate it like an episode of Bones. Gory, grisly carcass, aftermath, but few dragged out "horror scenes", if any.

As compared to Battle Royal, where each death required a bathtub of fake blood.
posted by lundman at 12:52 AM on November 16, 2011


Though I doubt they influenced the Hunger Games, the beginning of the trailer reminded me of The Tripods books sufficiently that I thought maybe they were being made into a movie under a different name.

Those books were awesome.
posted by flaterik at 12:57 AM on November 16, 2011


(having read a synopsis of the tripod books, my feelings of similarity were even more wildly inaccurate that I first thought. still... they were cool)
posted by flaterik at 1:00 AM on November 16, 2011


trailer reminded me of The Tripods
It is reminiscent of the Tripods, but I am glad it is - because the Tripods was a great story, but I felt the characters were very unemotional. I really enjoy Peeta's ability to move the story forward through his own actions, not just reactions. The only charge I would level at The Hunger Games is that it is too similar to The Lottery.

Her tank was empty on Mocking Jay.
I think Suzanne Collins fell into the problem that hurt Harry Potter, Star Wars and a lot of other works and that is the scale of the plot grew too large for the writer. When a plot scales up from the concerns of a few people to a nationwide/worldwide/universe-wide problem, how do you continue with that? The author's strength is often in what made the first book/movie a success and that is the small scale interactions between a few interesting people in a small context. When you have a plot that takes over the whole world, suddenly leadership, bureaucracy, and politics are the elephants in the room, looming over every plot point. I think the Hunger Games is better than most. But what makes Mocking Jay realistic is also what makes it frustrating and boring - all that time that Katniss spends underground. Then the capital city is not pictured particularly well, with all the traps being slightly silly (but not in a good way).

This film does look like it has potential, although I hope that they keep the political overtones and not make it too "clean". I like the costumes in the trailer - very nicely done. Set dec is great with the blend of worn down society amongst futurism. Nice cine, some really nice lighting and shot choices - nice center frame when she's being held back by the guards. Unless they mess this up this film will probably be really big - I see lots of appeal to all kinds of people. Though I'm not sure if you should rush out and buy Lions' Gate stock.
posted by niccolo at 1:05 AM on November 16, 2011


I would like to clarify that I did not mean my reaction to be a charge against The Hunger Games in any way. After I realized that it was incorrect I was quite interested in this new-to-me story!
posted by flaterik at 1:28 AM on November 16, 2011


lundman, those just seem like odd criteria to me. I mean, you could make a WWII movie that recounts the details of millions of people dying off-camera, but if it depicts someone being tortured to death on-camera the number of off-camera deaths doesn't cancel that out and make it tame IMO.

It's weird to me that you're looking at a story where the characters spend most of their time stabbing and shooting each other (or trying to) and people (some of whom are children) are tortured and die by being blown up or poisoned or bludgeoned or hacked to pieces, and not to mention that they're compelled to do all this to each other and to strangers in exchange for food their families desperately need and essentially via their captors holding guns to those families' heads, and you're saying that most of the suffering depicted in the story was "dehydration etc."

(So, that's why I had to wonder if we'd really read the same book, but we obviously have.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:42 AM on November 16, 2011


Oh - heh heh, I just looked at your profile and noticed that you live in Tokyo. If perchance you're just waving the flag for the home team or the adopted-home team, by all means. :^)

I should have explained, I haven't read or seen Battle Royale and for all I know The Hunger Games may be very derivative of it. From the Wikipedia description it sounds pretty cool, I've got a soft spot for alternative histories.
posted by XMLicious at 1:53 AM on November 16, 2011


Going purely by that trailer, the casting looks great - Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman would have been my choices in 'dream casting of the movie version of a book I read' but Lenny Kravitz as Cinna - now that is inspired.

Really hoping this movie is as good as the trailers are making them out to be - I might even finally go back in to a cinema to watch a movie (just have to find one without talking and texting teenagers.)
posted by Megami at 1:59 AM on November 16, 2011


Reactions:
- Hey, that's the mean older brother in Zathura, right?
- Some guy really looks like Lenny Kravitz

Also, I really love Battle Royale. I haven't read The Hunger Games though, so I'm a bit wary now. Should I just watch the movie or read the books?
posted by pleasebekind at 2:06 AM on November 16, 2011


Well, the alternate timeline thing is usually a scifi-steampunkey device, so I'll hazard a guess that Battle Royale is more of that persuasion, or of the history technogeek bent of the Eric Flint types. If that's the case I have to say that Hunger Games is definitely not science fiction: it bends over backwards to avoid giving anything but the most superficial scientific explanation of phenomena and no attempt to explain how technology works beyond. The future world of The Hunger Games and their tools and weapons and capabilities is a device, simply the most appropriate frame for Collins to stretch the canvas of her dystopian society over and paint her characters upon.

Similarly, if Battle Royal is one that takes care in precisely relating the differences between its world and our own - like, since according to WP it's set in 1947, I'd imagine its history had a different outcome to WWII or WWII didn't happen at all? - Hunger Games similarly refrains from drawing anything but the vaguest, blurriest lines between it and our world. It's just at some point in the future and the locations are in North America, or maybe North and South America, and there's evidence of the war that resulted in the creation of the current political order - ruins, altered ecology - but characters speak only in the vaguest terms of what came before.

I kept feeling pangs of regret as I started reading it, realizing bit by bit that she wasn't going to flesh out the technological or scientific progress or paradigms to undergird and create continuity within the world and wasn't going to even try to weave a warp and weft of historical events and forces and tides that moved our current world forward into becoming hers... that stuff for her, in this series at least, is just the stage and curtains and props.

Once I accepted that, I was pretty well able to enjoy it as the other readers have described here and as I mentioned above I really appreciate that it is a finely-crafted, well-honed creation that fits like a glove over its target market and audience.

So if it still looks interesting to you with the caveats I give here I would say that you should read the books first. They're not too bad, around 300 pages apiece if I recall, and I recommend the books precisely because she's left the aformentioned specifics. It was nice to read just the interplay-of-the-characters part of the story and fill in the setting myself and I think the movie, whether it's good or bad, will necessarily alter the story in fundamental ways because the company making it has to firmly tie down the stage, curtains, and props and then polish them up to gleaming Hollywood standards.
posted by XMLicious at 3:24 AM on November 16, 2011


*precisely because she's left the aformentioned specifics out.
posted by XMLicious at 3:26 AM on November 16, 2011


I will admit that, when I read the books, I forgot all the character's descriptions (I usually do this unless they are bludgeoned into the text 27 million times), so in my head Katniss was black (so was her mother, so was Prim) and Rue white. It was interesting to see how off I was when the actual descriptions of the characters were all over once the characters had been cast.
posted by jeather at 4:22 AM on November 16, 2011


As someone who liked The Hunger Games as a good piece of pulp, I still greatly enjoyed the exhaustive and increasingly vitriolic deconstruction over at Writing With Scales:

Here's the master post.

Nitpicking ahoy, but it did put its finger on some of the things I found weak about the books, particularly the second and third. The books themselves are a quick read, so unlike the Slacktivist Left Behind deconstructions it's fun to read them first and then follow along.

As far as YA sf goes, though, I feel like they're still towards the middle of the pile, although that's largely because of the incredible strength of YA authors like Nancy Farmer. I'd rate them about on par with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series in content, and somewhat below in style.
posted by Tubalcain at 5:25 AM on November 16, 2011


**I liked Matched and Crossed and once in HS my then-boyfriend and I read the romantic parts of Amber Spyglass to each other on one of those hyped-up-on-hormones late-night sweet things you do when you're 18 and in love and then I made him marzipan.


Meh. Matched and Crossed were beautifully written, but so uninspired otherwise. Great set-up in both, but poor follow-through.

Have you read Amy Kathleen Ryan's Glow, NoraReed? It wasn't perfect, but I think you'd like it in light of what you're saying about liking deconstructions of trauma.

If that's the case I have to say that Hunger Games is definitely not science fiction: it bends over backwards to avoid giving anything but the most superficial scientific explanation of phenomena and no attempt to explain how technology works beyond.

That's silly. Hunger Games is soft sci-fi, and just as science fictional as the dozens of SF books from the 70s and 80s that answer the question of, "How does genetic engineering work?" with, "A scientist did it!" Seriously, I will fight you on this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:01 AM on November 16, 2011


My apologies, I should have used the conventional "soft" and "hard" categorizations. Or really just have explained that I'm not speaking in terms of literary virtue or justifications for where to shelve them in a bookstore, simply making my own little personal "that ain't gangsta" pitch.

All I was really trying to say is that if the reason that pleasebekind liked BR but feels wary of THG involves BR having big-picture sophisticated worldbuilding as relates to technology or the relationship between the story's world and real world history (and I have no idea if BR is like this, I had no exposure to it at all before this thread) I wanted to make a caveat about that because I also found the lack of that sort of stuff a bit off-putting at first.

Quite possibly the dozens of SF books from the 70s and 80s you mention would fall short of my personal True Scotsman standard for SF too. For me it's not even really so much a matter of connecting things to real-world science, it's a matter of the author showing the effort to have some comprehesive plan for the science and technology in their world and carry through with logical consequences of it enough that it doesn't break the reader's suspension of disbelief.

Trying to come up with a good example in THG I'm thinking of the muttations. Whoever it is that makes them seems to be able to crank them out quite rapidly, with completely new widely varied species showing up every year in the Games, right? (Because the tributes watch tapes of all of the previous games to prepare but are still surprised by new muttations.) Or for example the infinite hoards of velociraptor-albino-sewer-alligators that came after them underneath the Capitol, custom-scented with President Snow's rose fragrace to psyche out Katniss as if they were bought at a candles and lotion boutique at a mall.

The thing is—and I don't care how it's explained to have been accomplished, whether it's genetics or as the result of complicated surgeries like in Dr. Moreau or something else—if they have this capability it should be showing up somewhere other than just when the author needs a scary monster for the plot. If they can make intelligent killer claw-monkeys for the Arena why do the people from Rue's district need their children to climb up trees to pick fruit? They oughta be able to make custom fruit-harvesting monkeys or something. There ought to be little customized organisms everywhere serving various purposes, whether it's saving labor or helping to oppress the populace or something else.

At the very least the baroquely flamboyant Capitol citizens ought to have all kinds of crazy bespoke personal pets like tortoiseshell kitten-tarantulas. (Or at the very very least I guess, it should have sounded more like Collins had thought it through. But, maybe she did put some good explanatory stuff about the limited use of muttations in and an editor made her yank it out.)

Anyways, that gave me a negative reaction to these books, the appearance that science and technology here are a sort of loosely-coupled factory for producing plot devices and props as needed—the "a scientist did it" rationale, as you put it. (Which I just realized that you're probably modeling on the phrase "a wizard did it", heh. Thinking about it, I probably would aesthetically prefer everything to be powered by a well-thought-out magic system in a book versus lip service to science and technology.)

But like I said, once I let go of that particular personal aesthetic preference and focused on the story the way the author wanted to tell it, in the context of the audience it was directed to, I zipped right through them and found them to be a great series of books.
posted by XMLicious at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For all those YA Dystopia fans out there (especially those who loved the Hunger Games but have been bored by the recent crop of totally nonsensical dystopias), I got my hands on a copy of Julianna Baggott's Pure, and it is the first book I've seen that I would whole-heartedly hand to someone "who liked the Hunger Games". At least, I can hand it to them in February 2012, when it comes out.

Much like the Hunger Games, it takes elements we've aleady seen in fiction and makes them more awesome (Domes! Capitalized apocalyptic Events! Mutations! Maybe a little Steampunk, but don't worry, you won't mind!). There was a big Event, people were like, mutated with objects around them. and the main character is a girl with a dolls head for a fist who meets a boy with freaky birds living in his back. Her grandfather breathes through a little plastic fan in his throat. There's also a dude who got mutated with his little brother on his back, who now just says eerie one-liners every now and then. How much awesome is that? Pure. Awesome.

Anyway, I totally loved it. Its big picture message so far isn't as epically relevant as the HG, but it's got a lot of creepy poeticness, and it's also just book 1 of a trilogy.
posted by redsparkler at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2011


I haven't read the whole "Hunger Games" series yet (I skimemd two of them), but it was mentioned to me by the same writer* I know who suggested the "Tomorrow When the War Began" series by John Marsden out of Australia. (The first of these have already been made into a movie, BTW.)

Can anyone here discuss the two series?

Note: he's also a Special Forces Viet Nam veteran from Texas, a pretty interesting guy
posted by wenestvedt at 8:45 AM on November 16, 2011


I've never read BR, just seen the film, so someone who has read it should really step in... but BR the film...

1) Does not feel like a period piece / alternate history at all. The Wikipedia article says the battles have taken place "since 1947", not that the book is set in 1947. From the technology and weapons that BR the film shows, it's set in the 1990s or early 2000s (computers, military vehicles).

2) Has VERY little context given about anything, and has almost no world-building whatsoever. There is a "Red Dawn" style incredibly vague opening title sequence that sets up the world slightly, and that's it. From that point on you are thrown in with the class who basically has no idea what's going on (which is confusing because they establish at the very beginning of the films that the winners of the battles become media sensations.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:50 AM on November 16, 2011


I envisioned Snow as looking more like Robert Blake in Lost Highway.

My vision of him was John O'Hurley (J. Peterman from Seinfeld). I could NOT read those books without hearing his voice every time Snow said something--it's such a perfect made-for-TV politician voice, and you just know Snow had to have that. I love Donald Sutherland and I believe he'll do a bang-up job, but I can't shake my original bizarre view.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:59 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quite possibly the dozens of SF books from the 70s and 80s you mention would fall short of my personal True Scotsman standard for SF too. For me it's not even really so much a matter of connecting things to real-world science, it's a matter of the author showing the effort to have some comprehesive plan for the science and technology in their world and carry through with logical consequences of it enough that it doesn't break the reader's suspension of disbelief.

Yeah, you're using an overly narrow definition of SF. The Hunger Games is as SF as, say, Logan's Run.

Though I agree that the worldbuilding in Collins' universe kinda sucked. The mutts were my least favorite aspect of the plot. Well, that and certain spoilery things that happen to Peeta in book 3 which were needlessly science fictional and kinda cheesy. That just makes it bad SF (which is not the same as "a bad book"), though, not not-SF.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:01 AM on November 16, 2011


About the way the cast looks:

I'm a bit disappointed that they cast a white Katniss. Yeah, Primrose was blond and blue eyed, but so what? We are already at the beginning of our post racial future. (Plus, Appalachia has always been America's true melting pot, with a number of centuries old tri- or quad- racial isolate groups.) Just as an example, and I'm going to use celebrities here because they are common currency, my cousin, who is a white, green eyed brunette, is married to multi racial man. They have four children who, while they share features, have four totally different looks. Their only son is complected very much like Jada Pinkett, down to the light eyes, with hair that's curly, not kinky. Daughter #1 complected like Joy Bryant, with hair that's able to hold an Afro. Daughter #2 has the coloring and hair texture of Salma Hayek. Daughter #3 has hair that's the same texture as her brother's, and coloring like Scarlett Johansson (but she can get a tan rather than just pinken in the sun). So I wouldn't really think twice about casting actresses of apparently different races as sisters, especially in a film set in the future.

Lenny Kravitz is almost certainly older than Cinna, but let's be honest, Lenny Kravitz looks remarkably young, at least in pictures. I certainly think "young man" when I see him. (Okay, I think other things, too, but those really aren't fit to print.) Hell, around here, he'd get carded buying booze.

I find Donald Sutherland an extremely gentle-looking and likable actor, so I don't know how much I'm buying him as Snow. While I agree that the look is more what I had in mind, that pic that was linked to of Robert Blake in Lost Highway? That thing needs some sort of "boo!" warning. I jumped in my seat when I clicked on it.

And can I just say that I find the notion of Jennifer Lawrence going brunette rendering her from "supermodel into unremarkable" amazingly off? I think JL looks better than I've ever seen her in the HG trailer.
posted by Leta at 10:30 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


apparently it’s about…forced waxing and being sad before you go on American Idol?

I actually had a surprisingly visceral reaction the first time I flipped to a reality show (I think it was So You Think You Can Dance) after having just finished the first Hunger Games book...

I don't see anything like this in the trailer, but I really hope (as folks have been mentioning above) that parts of this movie feel a little too much like American Idol to be watched comfortably. Movie-audience-as-Capital-audience might be too convoluted of a move to be expected for a major Hollywood film, but a girl can hope :)
posted by heyforfour at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2011


Since everyone's talking about Battle Royale (which I've seen, but haven't read), it might also be worthwhile to mention Series 7. There was also a late-'70s movie with an international survival death contest thing, but I can't remember the name of it, which (aside from the kids part) was also very close in theme to all of these gladiatorial subgenre pieces.
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on November 16, 2011


"As someone who liked The Hunger Games as a good piece of pulp, I still greatly enjoyed the exhaustive and increasingly vitriolic deconstruction over at Writing With Scales:

Here's the master post.
"

Oh my god, I barely made it through the first post before getting fed up with inane pseudopedantry — like in order to be upset at Katniss hiding a bow beneath a berry bush, they assume that all berries are edible, which they're not. Or being unable to comprehend clauses like, "but carefully, carefully." For every moderately reasonable point, they go off on five idiotic tangents due to either their inability to correctly parse a sentence or their presumption that they understand the economics and ecology of dystopic Appalachia. Add to that some crazy Von Mieses bullshit about how the kids are morons to eat a strawberry (which do actually grow wild in much of America, including the Virginia Strawberry that is native to Appalachia) instead of selling it… Ugh. That's exactly the sort of shit that needs to be quarantined in LiveJournal so that no one outside of bitter fanficcers ever reads it.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the "Nitpicking ahoy" was there for a reason. Over the course of the post the blogger will become more and more irate over, of all things, sentence fragments. Which don't even occur particularly often in the book.

One thing that did really bother me about the Hunger Games series, which the author does deconstruct, is that the Capital often feels presented as just being evil for no reason. On the one hand this does happen in a lot of dystopian YA stuff, but on the other I feel like it undermines the larger attempted allegory of the Capital exploiting the suffering of the rest of Panem for entertainment and resources, because the characters who go along with the Games are immediately dismissed as either innately, hopelessly shallow (Cinna's assistants) or pure evil for the sake of it (Snow). At its best we'd be seeing an indictment of ourselves as Capital dwellers, but instead it feels far too easy to dismiss them as something we could never be. It's not that there's no place for this, but given the nature of the books as attempting some pretty strong social commentary, it's a significant flaw.

I wish that the series had run with, for example, the sort of Stockholm Syndrome of Districts 1 and 2, where the Games are considered an honor, and a way to participate in the cosmopolitanism of the Capital, instead of just presenting them as bloodthirsty monsters. If she's trying to set up an allegory for how exploitative systems work, the author should be trying to make the Capital seductive, not constantly and overtly dismissing it as a city full of people with stupid accents and ugly clothes, as is consistently done in Katniss' exposition and the dialog of many of the characters. Even if we don't sympathize with the Capital in the series (and how could we?), it's far more powerful if we understand how someone could get to the point where child-killing (and then taking the dead children's eyes, implanting them into genetically-engineered torture wolves, and having them brutalize one of the remaining contestants) is considered a respectable sport.

One of my favorite YA novels, M.T. Anderson's Feed, is basically a deeply bitter satire on the equivalent of people in the Capital, but it presents the characters, who are every bit as ugly, in a way that makes their actions seem at least rational. Especially in the second two books in the trilogy, I don't think we got that at all in this series.
posted by Tubalcain at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, I barely made it through the first post before getting fed up with inane pseudopedantry — like in order to be upset at Katniss hiding a bow beneath a berry bush, they assume that all berries are edible, which they're not.

Seriously, yuck, I didn't even make it that far. "Pseudo-pedantry" seems like a very damning charge.
posted by grobstein at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2011


PhoB, I will check out Glow when I finish When We Broke Up. Which is fantastic, if you're wondering. And I'll see if Pure is on our advance stack.
posted by NoraReed at 3:00 PM on November 16, 2011


I'm kind of skeptical about this story being made into a film that artfully captures the message of the book. Essentially The Hunger Games is about a society that is pacified by the glamorized violence of a duel to the death among a group of children. And it looks as if the movie will be filled with FX explosions and choreographed fight scenes so that in essence it will be glamorized violence presented to our society. Not that it will be impossible but I think it will be challenging for the film to capture the internal changes in the characters. And I wonder if most viewers will just walk out the theater saying "Yeah, Katniss kicked ass!" The idea that our society is much like the one portrayed in the story (and that many people won't realize it) is very unsettling to me.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 4:52 PM on November 16, 2011


Maybe it really succeeds if you, watching it, think that the society portrayed in the story is a lot like your own, but think no one else notices.
posted by grobstein at 5:08 PM on November 16, 2011


I envisioned Snow as looking more like Robert Blake in Lost Highway.

My brains pictured him looking more like Ray Wise as Leland Palmer after his hair goes white.
posted by palomar at 8:01 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Younger Monster was assigned To Kill A Mockingbird in English class back in the Spring. He hated it and bitched mightily about it, as did most of the rest of his class.

As PUNISHMENT, his English teacher assigned The Hunger Games. The teacher's rationale was essentially "Fine, you bunch of babies, let's see how you do with something written for fifth graders!" (Note: Jesus Christ, I would not give these to a fifth grader. They're actually meant for seventh grade and up.)

He devoured the book at a sitting and demanded we go to the bookstore and get the other two. This is a kid who would rather play video games or build things (he's in woodworking at school) than read, so I sat up and took notice. I bought all three books for the Kindle...and stayed up all night two nights in a row reading them myself. His whole crew was in and out of the house for the following week, bubbling over about these books and they couldn't talk about anything else. I was really pleased to hear one of the boys mention the similarities to the Minotaur legend.

The English teacher was PISSED. They weren't supposed to go crazy over these books. He was trying to teach them a lesson! (Beats the fuck out of me what that lesson was supposed to be. Younger Monster learned that he really liked dystopian fiction, and went on to snag all of my China Mieville books.) Younger Monster and I are eagerly anticipating the movie, we're mostly happy with the casting, and we're planning to see the movie at its midnight premiere. Is the series perfect? Hell no. But it's incredibly engaging and you can't help but get emotionally invested in the characters.
posted by MissySedai at 8:03 PM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought the "pseudopedantry" of that criticism was pretty damning in terms of it pointing out how the worldbuilding of Games makes less sense than it should.

I find myself in essentially complete agreement with XMLicious's assessment; a society that fields custom-engineered organisms on a whim, organizes itself around a glorious, hi-tech city, and whose periphery is (at least, in parts) located in a forest where large wildlife is abundant as are wild berries, smaller game, and fucking apples would not have trouble feeding its people.

Yes yes, I get it, "Panem" as in "Bread and Circuses," but it's like she missed the whole point of what that means—you don't control a population with the threat of starvation, you make sure it's fed and entertained and it will basically not give a fuck what you do.

Hunger Games had its moments, but damn.
posted by pts at 8:26 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes yes, I get it, "Panem" as in "Bread and Circuses," but it's like she missed the whole point of what that means—you don't control a population with the threat of starvation, you make sure it's fed and entertained and it will basically not give a fuck what you do.

Well, there are two societies in Hunger Games world, comprised of the citizens of the Capital and the slaves of the Districts. Bread and Circuses for the former, threat of starvation for the latter. Seems like that's a formula we've entertained at various points in human history, so I don't see what's so unrealistic about it. And, of course, the unsustainable situation does unravel, as expected -- I don't think Collins ever painted the founders and rulers of the Capital as particularly wise or humanitarian.

The technologically-advanced Capital may not have needed slaves, but its morally corrupt rulers certainly did want them.
posted by treepour at 9:05 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


you don't control a population with the threat of starvation, you make sure it's fed and entertained and it will basically not give a fuck what you do.

I don't understand this point. This is exactly what plenty of totalitarian states have done and continue to do. North Korea is pretty nice, for a small group of party loyals selected to live in Pyongyang. Starvation is a major concern for many who are not allowed to live there, though. Pol Pot actively sought to kill the rich/educated/etc--many of them starved to death while food was right at their fingertips, or they were shot when they tried to 'steal' it. I'll go ahead and Godwin: Nazi Germany was pretty sweet for the Nazis, but, you know...

The point is, the social structure in Panem 'works' because the Capital has no reason to give rights and liberties to those in the districts. And why should the Capital care about keeping the inhabitants of the districts happy? They are an underclass, who are hated (thanks to a long and bloody past) and have been dehumanized -- Capital dwellers think of them as subhuman. If you think that's not a realistic depiction of what a totalitarian government can look like, I'd like to know why.
posted by meese at 9:05 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I'll concede the point about totalitarian governments.

I still think, however, that the SF world building of the trilogy as a whole was somewhat slipshod. Not unforgivably so, but enough to keep it out of the ranks of my very favorite pieces of juvenile speculative fiction literature.
posted by pts at 10:22 PM on November 16, 2011


I envisioned Snow as looking more like Robert Blake in Lost Highway.

My brains pictured him looking more like Ray Wise as Leland Palmer after his hair goes white.


So I'm the only one who saw Ian Holm?
posted by jabberjaw at 8:37 PM on November 17, 2011


The English teacher was PISSED. They weren't supposed to go crazy over these books. He was trying to teach them a lesson!

Nice. I wish I'd hit on that idea when I was teaching reading classes!
posted by asperity at 9:12 PM on November 17, 2011


Realizing something and coming back to note it-- spoilers ahead.

But I was watching the trailer and there was a bit where she was shooting an actual target and I realized that either a) they're changing it and she's using the bows in training or b) they took out the scene where she shoots the game makers' table, and I really, really hope it's the former, or something else, because that scene is FANTASTIC, and it'll really be a shame to not see it on screen because it seems that it (like much of the book) is made for that kind of thing. I love it when Katniss and Peeta get pissed and do something crazy like that.
posted by NoraReed at 9:42 PM on November 28, 2011


If they have her shoot a target first, and the gamemakers ignore her, then she shoots at the gamemaker's table, that won't change how that scene plays out. Hell, I can't even recall if she shot a target first, anyway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:25 AM on November 29, 2011



In the book she picks up the bow, and since it is new/tougher, she shoots at a target, but does not do very well, and is mostly ignored. This gets her pissed and shoots at them.
posted by lundman at 6:23 PM on November 29, 2011


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