"May the odds be ever in your favor." A glimpse of that haunting line from The Hunger Games — Suzanne Collins' wildly popular trilogy about a dystopian future in which a brutal government forces children to murder each other on a manipulative reality TV show — concludes the new trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of the first book. (Watch it below.) The trailer, which debuted Monday morning on Good Morning America, gives fans a coveted two-and-a-half minute look at the keenly awaited movie, which is due next spring. From Jennifer Lawrence's performance as gritty heroine Katniss Everdeen to the trailer's failure to convey the story's true violence, here are five things critics are buzzing about:
1. This is a powerful trailer
This trailer is "intense," says Amanda Dobbins at New York. It induces chills when police drag a screaming Katniss away or she's launched into the arena where she'll battle other children. Really, "this looks genuinely awesome." Even those determined to hate the film adaptation must have "felt their pulse quicken in that final countdown" before the Hunger Games competition starts, says Karen Valby at Entertainment Weekly. "I can't think of a more brilliant way to end the trailer."
2. Jennifer Lawrence is still a divisive casting choice
What we see of Lawrence here, says Valby, should silence critics "who still wring their hands" over her casting as Katniss. Just consider her haunting cry of "I volunteer! I volunteer!" when Katniss' younger sister is selected to fight in the Games and Katniss steps in to take her place. Look, Lawrence is a "marvelous actress," says Linda Holmes at NPR, but she just looks too old to play a 16-year-old. A story about young teenagers becomes one about young adults, "which I think lessens the brutality."
3. The boys look too old
It's not just Lawrence who looks insufficiently childlike, says Christopher John Farley at The Wall Street Journal. Liam Hemsworth as Katniss' friend Gale and Josh Hutcherson as her ally (and rival) Peeta "seem a bit too mature and studly for their roles." Watching "kids" forced to battle to the death loses its impact when the actors playing them "look like superheroes." I disagree about Hutcherson, says Holmes. He "has exactly the quality of seeming far too young for battle that I don't see in Lawrence."
4. Elizabeth Banks makes a winning Effie Trinkett
Hearing the "off-kilter trill" of Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinkett, the over-bubbly escort who guides Katniss and Peeta through the games, "made me giddy with anticipation," says Valby. The film has nailed Trinkett's look, too: The actress is unrecognizable in her garish makeup. Indeed, says Dobbins. Banks looks appropriately "nutso in a hot pink new-Renaissance getup."
5. The violence is strangely absent
As impressive as the trailer is, "there's still no hint of the violence and brutality of the books," says Matt Goldberg at Collider, perhaps to appeal to a more family-friendly crowd. But the decision to avoid any footage from the actual Hunger Games? How baffling. "That's the meat and potatoes" of the film, and this first preview could have benefitted from "some quick flashes of the action scenes."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- The American middle class is no longer safe from poverty — and that might be a good thing
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week