Of course I’ve read Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy. As a self-proclaimed pop culture journalist, I do my best to keep atop of whatever is the trendiest thing of the moment. Yet when The Hunger Games hit theaters, I couldn’t wrap my head around the excitement movie-goers seemed to be full of. The movie seemed nonsensical without the knowledge of what happened in the novel, and if you had read the novel, it seemed like a dumbed down, boring selection of scenes to adapt, done as cheaply as possible. I mean, I couldn’t even tell if anyone was hungry.
Still, people seemed to like it. I was let down. Collins isn’t a great writer, but there’s more than a few reasons her books reached the level of popularity they did, and even that aspect was missing. Katniss didn’t seem strong, she was flat and undeveloped. The love triangle was barely even introduced. The social turmoil in their world is an aside. The mistake may have been being too true to the text; the entire Hunger Games novel is told from Katniss’s point of view, and her stream of consciousness narration can’t be heard in the film.
I think I liked the novel Catching Fire a lot more than my peers. Most of my friends in their 20s and 30s, who were also exploring their weird attraction to YA fiction, expressed annoyance in that Katniss and Peeta had to go back to the Games. It was an uncreative waste of time. I didn’t mind it so much, being a sucker for franchise films, I know when the formula works, you use it again. Now the playing field has been turned into a puzzle, littered with traps and logic tests. I go nuts for that stuff.
If they can do it right on the screen, it’s going to be awesome. Yet, if they match the tone and pace of the prior film, fans who are actually critical of what they like are sure to be let down. Supposedly the first film didn’t want to glorify the violence, and wanted to stay true to the author’s vision. Collins spouts all this bullshit about the books being a statement about the effects of war on children, but that half-assed attempt to say something about violence isn’t what scored her her fans.
They’ve swapped out Gary Ross, The Hunger Games director for Francis Lawrence, director of the comic book classic, Constantine. Hellblazer fans loved that adaptation! He also helmed the 2011 adaptation of Water For Elephants. So he’s got a great track record of mild disappointment to bring to the Hunger Games.
All I can say about this new international trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is that the costumes look a thousand times better. Other than that, there’s still no promises.