Get ready for the next big phenomenon. Like Harry Potter and Twilight, The Hunger Games is based upon a popular series of young adult books, the movie versions of which will likely be as or more successful than its hugely successful predecessors.
With performances starting at midnight tonight, it is predicted that The Hunger Games could break box office records. And even though some of the story and themes are familiar, it will likely break free of its key demographic and appeal to a much larger audience.
As soon as the synopsis of a movie starts off with “Set in a dystopian future…” images of classic books and movies like Brave New World and Blade Runner pop into my head. In the case of The Hunger Games, the story reminds me of everything from The Most Dangerous Game to Logan’s Run to The Running Man.
In the future world of The Hunger Games, North America is no more and is split up into 12 districts that make up the nation of Panem. Each year, the evil Capitol forces each of the districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in a nationally-televised event in which “Tributes” must fight each other until only one survives.
These competitions are a twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic but entering the lottery to become a Tribute is encouraged as it gives the family extra rations and the winner receives enough honour, gifts and food to not want for anything again.
In this world, 16-year-old Katniss (Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence) has been entering the lottery since she first could, at age 12. When her now 12-year-old sister gets picked after entering for the first time, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Along with her childhood friend, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), they enter The Hunger Games and must make impossible choices that weigh survival against humanity and love.
Also starring Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and Lenny Kravitz, it is directed by Gary Ross, who is best known for Seabiscuit and has dabbled in dystopia before with Pleasantville. He also co-wrote the screenplay with author Suzanne Collins.
The reason I say that it could break out of its target demographic is that critics are already heaping praise on the movie saying that even though the material is familiar, the filmmakers do a good job working with a solid science fiction story that will also appeal to those who like the genre.
From the near future to ancient Greek mythology, Wrath of the Titans opens next Thursday with 10 p.m. shows at the Grand 10, Paramount and Capitol Theatres. Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, as well as Ralph Fiennes as Hades and Liam Neeson as Zeus. Advance tickets are on sale now.