Keep hearing friends gush about The Hunger Games and mistaking it for some freaky cooking show? Worry no more, my pop culture deprived pals. Check out our cheat sheet below to learn everything you need to know about the movie everyone’s tweeting about.
What is it: A best-selling young adult novel (part one in a trilogy) written by Suzanne Collins, which is set in a post-apocalyptic country, Panem, that is divided into 12 distinct districts and a Capitol. Each year the country “celebrates” its people and past with a battle royale-style fight to the death featuring two teenagers (called tributes) from each district, picked via lottery. The gruesome Games are aired on national television and the Tributes groomed as (tragic) national starlets. The book is narrated by Katniss, a poor 16 year-old-girl from District 12 who volunteers for the Games after her younger sister Prim is chosen to participate. Angst, ass-kicking, romance and more ass-kicking ensue.
Why people are obsessed with it: Dystopia is the new vampire! Young adult fiction is overrun with futuristic tales set in depressing, impoverished, repressive lands, and The Hunger Games is king of the genre for one simple reason: it’s a great book. Don’t let the YA title fool you, it’s an adult-worthy read with suspense, action and enough romance to keep us sappier fools hooked. Katniss is an admirable heroine, one who relies on her own smarts and strength to stay alive. A swoon-y, stumbling vampire-lover she is not. Sorry Bella.
Big name stars: This cast is A-listy! Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss; Josh Hutcherson is her love interest/fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta, Aussie hunk Liam Hemsworth plays her best friend Gale, Woody Harrelson is Haymitch, the booze-hound/trainer for the District 12 Tributes, Stanley Tucci portrays Caesar Flickman, the flamboyant host of the televised Games and Elizabeth Banks rounds out the group as Effie, the liaison between the District 12 Tributes and the Capitol.
What the fans are saying: Fans of the book are devoted, rivaling the Twilight and Harry Potter fandoms in intensity and passion. Thus it was only natural that many were invested in the casting process and were a bit wary that a hot blond was cast as a starving, olive-skinned, brown-haired 16 year old. The recent EW cover of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss seems to have calmed a lot of nerves, but fans are still not pleased with the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Their reason: he’s not blond, tall or Hunter Parrish, the undisputed fan favorite.
Should you just read the book? YES with a capital YES. The entire trilogy is great and appeals to just about everyone. If you love blood and guts, this is the book for you. If you love teenagers kissing in caves, this is also the book for you. Join our Book Club and read the Hunger Games with us! We start Monday, May 23rd.
Shooting: Starts May 19, 2011
Shooting Location: Hildebran, North Carolina
Release date: March 23, 2012