A friend of mine, Brian, introduced me to The Hunger Games Trilogy a few years ago. His daughter was reading them and he picked one up to see if it was appropriate, then got hooked. Not long afterwards several of us were rooting for Katniss Everdeen and District 12. All of us are adults and read a wide variety of books usually aimed at the post college crowd. The Hunger Games, like the Harry Potter series before it, offers something that folks from most age groups can understand, relate to, and feel for.
And now they’ve gone and made a movie of it.
I suppose, like wooded vistas razed to make strip malls, that had to happen eventually. The thing is that Hunger Games: The Movie may not be that bad. I say, “may,” because I haven’t seen it yet.
The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the still evolving Game of Thrones has shown us what movies based on books can be like. While purists will quibble over the smallest deviation from the books, these movies prove that not only can the story survive, but what’s on the screen can be every bit as captivating as the tomes from which they’ve originated.
As I said, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the reviews have been largely positive. I intend to see it Sunday with many of my friends who have read the books.
It wasn’t so long ago that the world that Katniss lives in would have been nearly impossible to create without relying heavily on artistic license, meaning that what we see on the screen only vaguely resembles what was on the page. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has changed all of that. All one has to do is look at the recent crop of fantasy and SciFi movies to see how much closer to the visions of the authors the big screen adaptation are.
Back in the day when CGI was a curiosity in universities, movies like John Carter would have looked as hokey as the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes does today. The sets had to be built in real space and what few scenes there were that could not be easily built were painted by artists then blending into the final film. The results were often crude and the audience had to allow for these technical bugaboos.
Not so with today’s movies. The CGI work merges so seamlessly with real space that it has become increasingly difficult to tell what’s real and what’s computer generated. For the most part, this is a good thing. We don’t have settle for poor approximations of characters and scenes in the stories we read when they appear on the silver screen. Which is why I’m so excited to see Hunger Games.
(Minor spoiler alert!)
The story that Suzanne Collins weaves is thread bare of happiness and fun times. Katniss lives in a post-event world where the U.S. is divided into 13 districts, 12 of which support The Capitol. District 13 was laid to waste as an example to the other 12. The districts barely get by as everything that is produced in each is sent to The Capitol. To keep a choke hold of the districts and to entertain its citizenry, once a year The Capitol pulls two teen tributes from each of the districts and force them to fight for their lives, gladiator style, in various arenas. The winner provides extra food for a year for the district they represent, hence the name; The Hunger Games.
Depicting the disparity between the poor rural environment of District 12 and the over-the-top opulence of The Capitol is not hard to do. But the juxtaposition is far more convincing and closer to what Ms. Collins portrayed in her series because of the CGI work in the movie. At least as far as I can see judging from the free material I’ve found in iTunes. Check out the follow items to see what I mean.
Of course there are podcasts dedicated to the movie. The Official Hunger Games video podcast contains some behind the scenes vids and 2 of the trailers, but you’ll find more goodies if you check out what’s in the free iTunes Movie Trailers app that Apple puts out.
Here you’ll find all available trailers, for sure, but there’s also clips from the movie, a 4 minute “Making of…” video, and a minute long sneak peek along with a really nice gallery that includes the icons for each of the 12 districts. It’s the behind-the -scenes extras that gives you a taste of what to expect in the movie, and how all that CGI work enhances the story.
If you need a pre or post movie fix iTunes Movie Trailers is where to go.
If the spot in iTunes Movie Trailers isn’t enough to sate you Hunger Games appetite then try out the official Hunger Games iPhone game. It’s a freebie and the game is an attempt to pull you into the world of District 12. Unfortunately the game isn’t worth playing. The Katniss character runs through a two level play area while occasional insect droids buzz in to harass her. You can make her jump between the upper and lower levels and shoot arrows, but that’s about it. Boring.
What’s not so boring are the the extras which includes a free mocking jay ringtone and access to the official website, trailer and online game. The free ringtone is enough to justify the download and the included game may keep you occupied long enough to verify that it’s not worth your time.
What may be worth your time is the companion book, How to Survive the Hunger Games: A Brief Look at Katniss’s Survival Strategy.
This freebie pulls a chapter from the book The Hunger Games Companion that focuses of how Katniss got through the games in more or less one piece. It also include the first 80 pages of The Hunger Games book. Just enough to whet your appetite.
The two pieces together makes for some interesting reading and should keep most Hunger Games fans happy for at least a few minutes. Good stuff to grab, so please do so.
That’s a wrap for this week. More free movie related games and apps below with direct links.