Leave it to The Girl on Fire to ignite an otherwise sparks-free awards show. Last night's Video Music Awards offered the usual mix of underwhelming live performances (Adele excepted), slumming movie stars shilling for their upcoming features (way to slip a Moneyball reference into your stage patter with Nicki Minaj, Jonah Hill!), forced acceptance speeches (could Katy and Kanye have looked more awkward?) and embarrassing attempts at comedy (go back to your day job Kevin Hart... whatever that is). But things finally started looking up towards the end of the night when Jennifer Lawrence appeared via videotape to introduce the first footage from The Hunger Games, the upcoming film version of Suzanne Collins' best-selling novel (the first in a trilogy) that's due in theaters on March 23, 2012.
The Winter's Bone Oscar nominee stars as Katniss Everdeen, a citizen of a futuristic dystopia called Panem -- a nation that was once part of the now-vanished U.S. of A. Every year, Panem hosts the titular competition/reality series that drafts two teenage residents from each of its 12 districts and drops them down in a specially designed arena where they're forced to battle the elements, booby traps... and each other. Here are five quick thoughts we had about the brief teaser that aired Sunday night.
1. The North Carolina woods are a promising battleground.
Towering trees, dense foliage, lots of places to hide from your fellow tributes -- this definitely looks like the battle arena described on the page. And are we just projecting, or do those fluttering wings that capture Katniss' attention belong to a mockingjay darting from branch to branch high above her?
2. Jennifer Lawrence can go hunting with us anytime.
Striding (and then running) through the forest with a bow in her hand and a quiver of arrows slung over her back, Lawrence looks every bit the skilled hunter that her character is intended to be. And based on that great last shot of her firing an arrow directly into the camera, Ridley Scott shoulda cast her as Robin Hood instead of Russell Crowe.
3. Lose the voiceover.
The filmmakers made the right choice to make this first teaser an all-Katniss affair and leave out footage of her two love interests, baker's son Peeta and fellow hunter Gale. But they should have gone all the way and deleted the extraneous narration in which an unseen Gale instructs Katniss to, "Show them how good you are." Since we can see from the footage how good she is, his V.O. adds nothing to the clip. Drop it and fill that space with a taste of T-Bone Burnett and Danny Elfman's original score, please.
4. Whenever possible, put the emphasis on practical, rather than digital, F/X.
Those flames that Lawrence sprints past definitely look real. But the flaming tree that falls in front of her? Obviously computer generated. Not that we're encouraging the production to put the cast in harm's way, but we're hoping those kinds of digital enhancements are kept to a minimum... or, at least, that the finished F/X are more convincing.
5. More please.
We know the movie is still being shot and all, but there's gotta be more film in the can that the studio can share with us in a fresh round of teasers in the very near future. How about a peek at Woody Harrelson as Haymitch? Or a quick shot of Elizabeth Banks' Effie? Or maybe just a glimpse of the Cornucopia, where the shit goes down on Day 1? We know, we know: Withholding footage builds anticipation. But if they want to raise the excitement level of the general population in addition to the book's fanbase, they've got to start getting more stuff out there pronto, especially now that this first glimpse has been released. After all, they've already got our money -- it's everyone else they'll have to convince.
Check out the teaser trailer below and sound off with your own thoughts in the comments
Who should star in the second Hunger Games movie? Check out this fantasy casting.