Katniss Everdeen is braver than most people her age or mine. In a dystopian setting, she bucks societial norms to take her place in a Gladiator-esque battle to the death — “The Hunger Games.”
Her journey, and the futuristic District-divided world in which she lives, has become the center of a successful trilogy of books — and an upcoming movie series.
Dystopian novels can and have become movies worthy of critical acclaim, but seem to not reach the heights of Hollywood blockbusters of the last 10 years, like the “Harry Potter” or “Twilight” series.
One such instance was the 1992 novel “The Children of Men” by P.D. James, and its 2006 film adaptation starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore.
The novel follows diary entries from Theo Faron as well as omniscient narraration starting from the “Year Omega” when the sperm counts of men dropped to zero and the last babies were born. Set in the year 2021, the book depicts an England with only an advisory Parliament, a nearly defunct court system and the demand that citizens learn husbandry among other skills in case they are the last British citizens. With the help of an underground group, the “Five Fishes,” however, things start to change as Theo learns why a group member, Julian, is so important — she is pregnant.
The film adaptation of this movie, however, changes many details, like the fact that Julian is Theo’s ex-wife and not pregnant. Instead of being a historian, Theo works for the Ministry of Energy to make a compelling movie set in a world that echoes the dystopian without being overwhelming.
“The Hunger Games,” held to be a slightly better written book than “The Children of Men,” may seek to do the same with its movie adaptation. But unlike its series-to-movie predecessors, “Hunger Games” addresses adult themes, like death, gore and violence, and is less focused on teen love or school tensions.
The question is whether “The Hunger Games” will follow the dystopian or Hollywood blockbuster route?
The material dictates dystopian, with an engaging and visual, albeit predictable, plot. But the four-movie series construction, the casting of blond “Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence, and the success of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” will inevitably push the producers to think less dystopian and more Hollywood blockbuster.
Details of the epic “Hunger Games” battle, including its most violent forays, will be omitted if it’s ever to reach a PG-13 rating and maximum viewership, forcing filmmakers to opt for less of the book’s dystopian roots to achieve another triumphant, if not somewhat watered-down, adaptation of a teen novel series to a silver screen success.
— Jazmine Woodberry is the arts editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @WildcatArts.