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Preview: ‘The Hunger Games’ gets new trailer

The second trailer for the big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games (2012), directed by Gary Ross, was released online yesterday. Whilst a lot of the material on show has already been seen in the first trailer, there is plenty of new action to take in. The Hunger Games, the first entry in a proposed trilogy, is named after the vicious, televised (and compulsory) ‘Hunger Games’, in which teenagers from the Districts of Panem (a post-apocalyptic USA) are required to fight to the death. As the heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) puts it, “24 of us go in, only one comes out”.

Katniss is a rare ‘tribute’ (as the combatants are referred), as she volunteers to fight – a practice only usually common in the wealthier, more loyal districts. Both trailers have shown already that Katniss volunteers in place of her younger sister, Prim (Willow Shields); the new trailer includes crucial references to a ‘Mockingjay pin’ that Katniss has bought for her sister. Although this diverges from the pin’s origin in Collins’ source novel, the pin will go on to play an important role in the series.

The other tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), is drawn from the ballot. In the trailer we hear Peeta delivering a sort of mission statement to Katniss on the eve of the Games: “If I’m going to die, I want to still be me”. There are also new shots of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, the charismatic host of the Hunger Games’ TV coverage and Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’s assigned stylist, Cinna.

The two trailers so far have established the action-packed nature of the story, and have managed to underplay the science fiction elements of the books, a tactic which Collins herself employs. The Hunger Games is about as sci-fi as it is possible to get, but the technological aspects remain largely below the surface for the first book; it is only in the sequels (and especially the final instalment, Mockingjay) that futuristic weapons really come into play. One of the strengths of the novels is how well Collins is able to maintain a multitude of thematic strands running parallel to each other, simultaneously commenting upon state control, the mass media, societal violence, the importance of art, and simple survival all at once.

From all that we’ve seen so far, Ross’ adaptation of the Collins’ first entry in The Hunger Games trilogy looks extremely promising. Here’s hoping that the finished film lives up to the trailers when it is released in March.

The Hunger Games is due for release in UK cinemas on 23 March, 2012.

David Sugarman