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So long, and thanks for all the fish!
It bodes well for our future that the hotly anticipated ad that will premiere right after the MTV VMAs is a spot for a movie based on a young adult novel. Sure, the Hunger Games trailer was mostly shots of a girl running through trees but it was comforting that the channel that brought us Jersey Shore also had some time for books.
That was August last year and there’s been plenty of times for trailer editors to take the same five scenes that don’t have spoilers and edit them into multitudes of trailers to be released each month. But we can learn something about the adaptation from these brief glimpses, let’s take a look at this trailer.
Morning Mood by Edvard Grieg plays as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) runs through District 12, which doesn’t look too shabby… for 1880. For a town in the future it appears to be severely lacking in hoverboards or, yanno, plumbing. Sure has a lot of electric fences though. Anyway. Katniss and Gale lounge around when they should be hunting and providing for their families. We see that Katniss is steallar at shooting at rocks (we even get a smile out of her) when a hovercraft appears in the sky. You know what this means? Katniss isn’t just going to talk about the readheaded, soon-to-be-Avox girl getting taken, we get to see it happen. Because why give up a perfect opportunity to showcase the horors these children are put through? It’s unclear if this will still be a flashback or it’ll be one of the first things we see but it’s a major event those chose to show rather than tell.
They might not have been hunting but Liam Hemsworth is super at catching flies. Of course, that’s a screengrab of him looking his most unfortunate. Public opinion is against poor Liam as Gale but he really doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie except sit around and look mournful. Maybe a few insert shots of him flaring his nostrils while there are makeouts in a cave, who knows. I don’t know a lot about his acting abilities (I just watched the bit of the Thor trailer where his brother is shirtless, does that count?) but maybe he can get himself a coach between now and when the Catching Fire cameras role.
We cut to the reaping day and see that all the money District 12 had budgeted on city planning or showers went to hi-def screens that show just how much makeup they’ve caked on to Effie’s face. Which is a nice touch, since the Capitol people trancend gaudy and move into grotesque and made Elizabeth Banks look 45 years old.
She explains the premise to everyone while Katniss and Gale share some longing looks and Prim gets more and more panicked. Flashback! To Katniss telling Prim there’s no way she’ll get picked. Cut to! Prim getting picked. Of course, that’s only after Effie delays the inevitable, swirling her hand around the fishbowl full of names and making it really obvious why everyone hates her. Just pick a name already!
Then there’s the moment where Katniss volunteers and Jennifer Lawrence proves she’s absolutely going to kill it in this role because she goes from this…
Even the Peacekeeper is like “…dude.”
Peeta is also chosen as an afterthought and in no time they’re on a train to the Capitol. (Gale talks some more since this is pretty much all the screen-time he’s going to get.) It’s unclear if they’re going to play up how no one bothered to volunteer for Peeta or if it was unnecessary since Josh Hutcherson is making some awesome kicked puppy faces already.
There’s a beautifying montage that hopefully lasts as long in the movie as it does in the trailer. (Unless you can do it better than Miss Congeniality, don’t bother.) A quick glimpse of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickman before a longer glimpse of Donald Sutherland going evil for President Snow, who’s getting a little extra buildup in this movie before he goes to hang out with Gale in the “Waiting [for Catching Fire] Room.”
Then we get ANOTHER montage for their Games training, which will hopefully also be breif. It’s our first trailer-look at Haymitch who seems to have found his way to a shower in The Capitol. Yeah, the hair is unfortunate but he doesn’t look nearly as desheveled as he could be. Is the drunken stumbling being played down for the sake of The Children? Because I’m pretty sure The Children have all read this book already.
Anyway, Katniss shows what we already know, that she’s ace with a bow and arrow, not just in the verdant woods with a rock that blends in to the background but also in a well-lit firing range and a stationary target. But there’s Wes Bentley with Seneca Crane’s fancy beard art, making a shocked face that hints that a roast pig missing an apple is around there somewhere.
Looks like the movie will find time for Peeta and Katniss’ midnight rooftop rendezvous where he’s earnest and she’s keeping her emotions tucked in. Then in no time, it’s time to go to the arena. But among these quick shots of Cinna helping Katniss suit up there are some hints that the movie is going to go places the books couldn’t. The first-person voice of the books doesn’t have room to show what’s happening throughout Panem while the Hunger Games are televised. The movie isn’t so restricted. We get to see Gale brooding and Prim worrying about her sister and the people of District 11 (probably) react to Katniss when Rue’s… done something wonderful, I’m sure.
Now, this is where the movie, and any well-loved book adaptation, can get into trouble. Fandom tends to be divided between those who want strict accuracy and those who are more interested in tone. Ask a die-hard Harry Potter fan which movie is their favorite and you’ll know which side they land on. Some fans love the first two movies: they looked bland and felt uninspired but you could read the book along with the movie and not miss your favorite scene. And some fans love the third, chopping scenes left and right but the entire tone felt much more magical.
Hunger Games adaptation debates are going to happen, with noisy pockets of the internet both praising and damming it no matter how the movie turns out. It’s inevitable. While it does look like it’ll be showing even more than the books did, they aren’t changes, just logical additions that come with a change in format. The book is restricted by choice because Suzanne Collins chose a first-person narrator. The movie doesn’t have to be (or rather simply can’t be) so hemmed in. Of course the spectators reacted to what they were seeing, why not show it? Those quick cutaways are going to drive the mood of the film and also ease the incredible tension of a lengthy arena battle royale.
Speaking of… Katniss and the other tributes rise into a field, an ominous voice counts down to one, I pee my pants, and all hell breaks loose.
So it looks like this movie’s going to be a good time. In just two and a half minutes we see some promising good performances, a nice look to the different Districts, some exciting things the books don’t have an opportunity to show, and… I’m sorry, were those notes over the title Rue’s mockingjay song? Yeah, this is going to be appropriately creepy. Well done movie, well done.