Posts Tagged ‘The Hunger Games’

Most people have probably heard that NBC has jumped on the post-apocalyptic bandwagon with a new show for fall called Revolution.  Helmed by executive producers including J.J. Abrams, and kicking off with a pilot episode directed by Jon Favreau (the Iron Man films and, of course, Elf), there appears to be a fair amount of anticipation for the show (and NBC is doing a ton of promotion, including theater pre-screenings of the pilot in select markets).  The anticipation might just be studio-generated hype, or earnest and ongoing interest in the post-apocalyptic genre, but, in my mind at least, there is also the fact that network tv has an abysmal track record with the genre, and I expect some are probably interested in whether this show will totally trainwreck despite the big names attached.

The series premier (ie, the pilot episode) will air on September 17th, but the studio has already posted the full episode, which I watched this past weekend, on their website and Hulu.  Here it is (link below if wordpress drops the embed):

Watch the pilot on Hulu

(more…)

I’m fascinated with book cover art: how publishers, designers, and artists make choices to represent a book is kind of a cool possible subfield of lit. studies and way to remind students (and oneself) of the existence of a marketplace, book-as-commodity, and genre branding.

So, a couple years ago when I was teaching Oryx and Crake, the cover of the new edition the bulk of my students were using kept picking at my brain. It seemed so familiar, but I couldn’t immediately figure out why.  The original U.S. paperback used art from the left (Eden) panel of Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights: an extremely appropriate choice (and one I would use as a way to bring past visions of ideal social arrangements vis-a-vis Christian myth into contrast with the novel). The new edition featured more futuristic and less obviously-related art that sort-of derailed my lesson plan.  Here are the two editions.

Cover art for first U.S. edition paperback (2004)

Cover art for 2009 edition (Year of the Flood tie-in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(more…)

A friend recently proposed an interesting exercise in hypothetical course design where one must select a single American novel for each decade of the 20th century to create a teachable arc for the century (and justify said choices).  Given my own interest in genre, I figured I’d adopt/adapt it for utopian/dystopian fiction (dropping the “American” requirement) to see what kind of survey of the genre I might teach (and what works I’d be willing to drop per only having one choice per decade).  The difficult part about conceptualizing this as an actual course is there is no way I would be able to teach this without starting with More’s Utopia and some other relevant earlier texts (Campanella? Bellamy and Morris? Wells? etc.) or doing a bunch of work up front introducing literary utopias via describing those works that lead up to what is really the dystopian turn in the genre that takes place at the beginning of the 20th century.  Not that I couldn’t do the latter, but I’d much  rather have students at least read More to begin.

That problem aside, I’ve still tried to follow a structure that makes sense for how an actual course might play out: works build on previously read works to allow for connections to be made, I begin with shorter texts rather than hitting students with something big and hard to start, and finish with less time-intensive texts so that students in the midst of final papers and finals prep would hopefully still make time for them.

(more…)

UPDATE:  Apparently the studio didn’t like people seeing  Ian Joyner’s concept art that they didn’t use.  His gallery of the images now reads: “We had a request from the studio to not show this work at this time. I will update this page if/when things change.”  Given that the io9 article has had over 33K views, and the art is still there for viewing/fuskering [update 5/26: io9 article now deleted] and isn’t going to just disappear from the internet, I’m not sure what point they are making besides strong-arming an artist.  Chalk it up as another incident that shows how out of touch with reality Hollywood is.

Original post from before the art was taken down:

Unused Hunger Games concept art would have made the final arena scenes better

In my review of The Hunger Games film, I wrote that I was a bit disappointed with the sanitization of, and seemingly unnecessary changes to, the end scenes in the arena.  The menacing yet generic look of the canine muttations in the movie was an especially disappointing shift from the book for me because it removes an element of how nasty in terms of psychological warfare the Capitol is, and also how technologically sophisticated.  So, I’m even more disappointed to find (via io9) that the original film artwork actually incorporated the dead tribute look in pretty awesome fashion.  Here’s a few pics of Ian Joyner’s concept art for the film.

Thresh-muttation:

(more…)

I don’t know, but I know it when I see it.  It looks like this:

from Wells’ adaptation of The Trial

Having spent too much time reading online material related to The Hunger Games, I’ve been both intrigued and disappointed at how how the media and the books’ fandom interpret and use the term “dystopia” (and its adjectivizations, of which “dystopic” makes me cringe).  As with the everyday use of “utopia,” the general understanding and usage of the term is often extremely vague and distanced from the actual genre of fiction it comes from.  This definition is a very literal one: dystopia=bad place, or the opposite of utopia (defined simply as “good place”).  Or, as one of the lousy online dictionaries defines it:

noun

a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
Compare utopia.

Origin:

1865–70; dys-  + (u)topia

I’ll ignore the problematic question of origin/etymology in this definition for now.  The real issue here is illustrated by the fact that these definitions (the casual and the online dictionary) don’t fit classic dystopias that define and helped initiate the genre like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.  Sure, one could argue those lives led by the populaces of the World State or OneState are miserable, and that they are “bad” places, but this is a relatively subjective and very dubious judgment.  Are they characterized by human misery?  No.  There’s more complexity to it than that.

(more…)

Because what the internet needs is another commentary on the film adaptation of The Hunger Games . . .

Going into the release, I quickly reread the first book (for the fourth time) so that I could more easily be pedantic and nitpicky about how they adapted the film, what they chose to play up or omit, and how well it worked as a representation of the overall feel and main themes of the book. Most of the time this kind of thing leads to fannish and annoying pointing out of differences as if trying to show off what a smart, super-fan one is, but I’m going to try to stick to things that actually make a difference in overall tone.

As a whole, my take was that the films was “good but not great” for reasons I’ll explain in a second, and I’m sticking to that even if it makes me a killjoy for those who have wholly embraced it as everything awesome is supposed to be (Scott Tobias’ review at The AV Club is a pretty close mirror to my own thoughts . . . if I weren’t going to itemize and explain every detail I though worth considering).  As for the latter folks swept up in the hype, which seems to be far too much of the internet, witness, for example, the simplistic, uncritical accolades from “film critic” Margot McGowan at SF Gate. McGowan’s absurd “review” is narrow in scope and merely lauds the film for not breaking the from those elements that allow for a feminist reading of the book (which is a dubious position for many reasons that other, more capable folks have pointed out).  Not that it isn’t a reasonable point to care that Katniss isn’t sexed-up in the film, but in the book that concern is primarily and textually Katniss’ . . . transferred over to the reader via her inner monologue. And the ultimate choice on whether or not to go this route in presenting her is Cinna’s, which he decidedly goes against.  Further, concerns McGowan raises about gender equality (in numbers of tributes? seriously?) are patently absurd, as is the ladies working together to save each other angle she generates.  The film is loyal to the book on these counts, which isn’t the same as it being “awesome,” which implies levels of both loyalty and creative changes to the source material that still capture the spirit of the novel and enthrall the audience.

[major spoilers follow]

Let me start with the things the film did pretty good or exceptionally well:

(more…)

Modern Primate just published my short piece “(dis-)Regarding the Twilightization of The Hunger Games,” and I wanted to just add a few thoughts on the stereotypical young men like the redditor I mentioned.   He wrote:

“I feel like a couple months ago I heard about girls picking up the book once they saw the previews. Which is fine, same thing happened with twilight. The whole OMG I TOTALLY HAVE TO READ THE BOOK BEFORE I WATCH THE MOVIE, was annoying, but only girls were doing it so I just ignored it. Same thing started happening with the hunger games. Fine, whatever I don’t care I can just ignore it.

Fast forward to last night, I go out to a bar with my friends and we are all just talking, and every single person, including the guys, were talking about the hunger games. Everyone is making sure they have read the first book before they go watch the movie tomorrow at midnight. WTF? I apologize if the hunger games is your ultimate favorite book, but how did this craze happen? Guys that I hang out with that honestly go out drinking and barely pick up their books to study, I’m a college student, are now making sure they read the hunger games before they go see the movie. Please tell me I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand what in the world is going on. I feel alone in a sea of hunger games.”

(more…)