The Hunger Games

Will November’s Diverse Blockbusters Kill Hollywood’s Teenage Boy Obsession?

It was a very big Thanksgiving weekend at the American box office. In its second weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire brought in $109 million, beating the five-day Thanksgiving record set by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Meanwhile, Disney’s debuting Frozen did a bang-up $93 million in the same time frame, itself setting a record for the biggest Thanksgiving opening ever (a mantle it nabbed from Toy Story 2). Neither record comes as a surprise; these were big, widely marketed movies from a tentpole franchise and cinematic brand name, respectively. But they had something in common: both were films with female protagonists, and their massive grosses were driven by female moviegoers. “That’s box-office Girl Power,” notes The Wrap, and if the word choice is cringe inducing, the sentiment is spot-on. … Read More

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What Are Right-Wing Pundits Saying About ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’?

A blockbuster film trilogy based on a bestselling book series in which 24 teenagers representing 12 exploited, impoverished provinces fight to the death for the entertainment of a wealthy, debauched capital city was always going to inspire plenty of political commentary. In fact, The Hunger Games has already moved a “coalition of fandom leaders and members” to raise awareness about poverty, hunger, and economic equality in the US. But it isn’t just progressives who have found support for their views in the series’ political subtext; as Jason Bailey pointed out last week, Tea Party types might well interpret the films as pro-states’ rights. Which raises the question: just what have right-wing publications and pundits been saying about Catching Fire? … Read More

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The Fascinatingly Flexible Political Subtext of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

Catching Fire, the second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (a trilogy which, true to their current style, Hollywood is adapting into four films), arrives on screen with the confidence of a film that knows it’s going to gross a bajillion dollars. It is a brisk, exciting, well-acted entertainment, and those elements, in addition to the built-in audience of Collins’ voracious readers, are the most logical explanation for the franchise’s massive popularity. But in viewing the two films back-to-back this week, another theory seems worth mentioning as well: the series’ political subtext, which is present and potent, yet flexible enough to latch on to the ideology of your choice. The Hunger Games is “political” without actually having to stand for anything. … Read More

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Why Don’t We Talk More About ‘The Hunger Games” Unusual Romance Plot?

Spoiler alert: this post discusses plot points of all three Hunger Games novels.

People don’t usually describe The Hunger Games as romance books, but they are. Though the focus on war and dystopia and violence occlude the view, at the center is the drama of Katniss and her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark. At the outset, Katniss is in love with someone else; by the end of the trilogy she’s realized that he is the only person she can be with. Peeta has the elements of the standard romance-novel fantasy-hero: he is handsome, and he is (largely) steadfast. But most importantly for Katniss, he’s the only person who knows what she’s gone through. That’s really why she retreats with him from the turning world into a fortress of domesticity in their ruined former district. … Read More

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Are ‘The Hunger Games’ Films Radical Social Critique — or Just More Evidence of Hollywood’s Cynicism?

There’s a certain conceptual irony to The Hunger Games franchise. This is a story, after all, that is at its essence about the perniciously oppressive power of entertainment — and yet, here it is, rendered as that most modern of entertainments, a Hollywood blockbuster. This contradiction is at the heart of what makes the film adaptations, in particular, such an interesting cultural phenomenon. The movies’ story arc essentially concerns the overthrow of an oppressive state wherein wealth is confined to an elite at the expense of an exploited majority, and what looks remarkably like a socialist revolution based around the redistribution of wealth. … Read More

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15 Works of Dystopian Fiction Everyone Should Read

Dystopian fiction has enjoyed a renaissance in these scary post-9/11 times, and the fact that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is sure to destroy all competition at the box office is a testament to the fact that, weirdly enough, fiction set in some post-apocalyptic world run by some totalitarian government has occupied the same place in the current cultural zeitgeist as otherworldly monsters like vampires and zombies. … Read More

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Watch a Clip From ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

Check out an extremely short clip from Catching Fire, the heavily-anticipated Hunger Games sequel coming out later this month. 40… Read More

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Here’s Your Final ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Trailer

Let’s be honest here: at this point, Lionsgate could release a trailer consisting entirely of Donald Sutherland reading the take-out… Read More

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‘Hunger Games’ Soundtrack Features Lorde, The National, Patti Smith, and More

The soundtrack to Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire has a hell of a tracklisting. The Republic Records compilation has an… Read More

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