Starving For ‘The Hunger Games’

March 21, 2012

Katniss. Peeta. Rue. Effie. Foxface.

If you think I’m starting this post off with words from a foreign language, then clearly you haven’t been exposed to “The Hunger Games.”

The Hunger Games movie poster

And how is that possible? Could this trilogy of novels — and soon to be tetralogy (4!) of movies — somehow passed your consciousness? If that’s the case, let me tell you what you’ll be hearing after this weekend’s premiere:

With a fresher concept than “Harry Potter” and more sparkle than those “Twilight” vampires, “The Hunger Games,” which hits the silver screen Thursday, is going to be huge.

Jennifer Lawrence, an Oscar nominee for “Winter’s Bone “in 2010, is sure to be the star du jour, complete with a teenage fan following that will ensure a steady and fruitful career for the actress for years to come.

Words like Panem, mockingjay and the reaping, while all made-up, may soon earn a ubiquitous place in pop culture. For the novices out there, Panem is the futuristic post-modern U.S.A. where the “Hunger Games” trilogy is set. The mockingjay is a genetically modified bird that uses its ability to mock human singing to send messages and warnings to people. And the reaping is an annual ritual in which each District in Panem chooses two “tributes” to fight in “The Hunger Games” arena.

Sound odd? It is.

But I read all three books in a few days combined. They’re great reads and great stories, if not necessarily Pulitzer-level writing. They’re labeled young adult fiction, but what kind of young adult novel ends in mass murder that takes place in a futuristic society under conditions comparable to those created by a dictator or despot? (whoops – spoiler!)

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

These books and their soon-to-be motion pictures are vehicles for all ages, all races and both genders. And if you haven’t heard a lot about the film, don’t feel bad. According to a New York Times article, Lionsgate has focused its marketing efforts on a digital campaign that “forced” fans to find the content they’re (and I am) dying to see before the movie premieres. It’s on Facebook with more than 3 million followers. It’s on Twitter with 300,000 followers. The soundtrack has generated plenty of ink and Grammy nominations. They’ve launched iPhone games. Trailers are playing day and night on YouTube. They’re live streaming the premiere on Yahoo!. And fans are going NUTS on Tumblr.

As for me, all this marketing is for naught. A good story always wins out, and there is no way I WON’T see this movie. And that’s saying something since I haven’t seen the inside of a theater in more than four years. I will, however, wait until the melee passes to enjoy it with good friends. I encourage you to do the same.