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Stuart in L.A.: Don’t mistake ‘Hunger Games’ for ‘Twilight’ romance

When The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 bows in U.S. theaters on Nov. 20, it will cap a film saga that has seen four films in three years, grossed more than $2 billion (at the time of Part 2’s release), and transformed leading actress Jennifer Lawrence into one of Hollywood’s most lauded, and richest stars.

The film’s release will also mark the end of Now Playing Podcast’s Fall 2015 Silver Level donation series, in which listeners can hear reviews of the aforementioned Hunger Games franchise, as well as the two Japanese Battle Royale films. Both series’ are based on popular novels that feature groups of children isolated by their governments and forced to kill one another for survival. Yet while there is no question that Battle Royale was conceived and presented as a violent thriller, The Hunger Games has occasionally been written off as a Young Adult fantasy for teenage girls – akin to the Twilight franchise.

In addition to reviewing the films for Now Playing Podcast, host Stuart Atkinson is also reviewing the Battle Royale and Hunger Games novels for Now Playing’s sister podcast, Books & Nachos. Stuart spoke with the Venganza Media Gazette about the differences between The Hunger Games books and films, the audience it attracts, and whether the franchise has a future after this fall’s sequel.

Q: Is there a misconception that The Hunger Games is geared toward young teens? The violence is very adult.

Stuart: “I think it’s a misconception to think these films could ONLY be enjoyed by teenagers. I first became aware of Hunger Games as a book phenomenon in 2010. I’d read a magazine article explaining that today’s young women and girls love reading dark science fiction involving kiddie death matches. That kinda blew my mind. I have a young niece. It made me wonder why such nihilism would appeal to girls her age. Once I read the trilogy, it was obvious that this story had much wider appeal. It touches on ideas and satirizes things that anyone engaged with our 21st century social media culture is going to find entertaining.

Q: You’ve mentioned that The Hunger Games have more in common with Stephen King’s The Running Man than Twilight.

Stuart: Yeah, I see The Hunger Games as part of a long tradition of stories involving children killing each other for sport. Battle Royale, King’s The Long Walk (which he wrote before The Running Man), and even Lord of The Flies. I haven’t read Twilight or seen any of the movies, but my perception is that it’s a soap opera where a girl must choose between two dudes. Hunger Games has a love triangle too, but it would be a real stretch to call it a romance. Lionsgate owns the film rights to both Twilight and The Hunger Games, and I think they’ve marketed them as sister franchises. Don’t believe the poster. Katniss enters the arena fighting for her life, not trying to get a date. Think of this as Disney Channel greenlighting The Running Man.

Q: Without giving too much away, what are the biggest differences between the books and the films?

Stuart: I definitely feel like the movie makers struggle with how to portray child violence in a PG-13 movie, particularly in the first movie. You read The Hunger Games and there are some really ghastly things in there that they wouldn’t dare bring to the screen. Reading the story makes your mind deliver the R-rated version Lionsgate was unwilling to make.

Q: For those who haven’t read the books or seen the films, is there a definitive end to this series? Any chance of sequels or spinoffs?

Stuart: There are characters left alive at the end of Mockingjay, so I suppose there could always be more. But I see a very definitive end to this particular story. If they made more films in the Hunger Games universe they would probably involve new characters in a new trilogy in some distant time afterward. Kinda like Star Wars Episode VII, or these not-quite Harry Potter spinoffs they have planned for next year.

Now Playing Podcast’s The Hunger Games Retrospective Series begins Friday, Nov. 6.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | News, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Comments Off on Stuart in L.A.: Don’t mistake ‘Hunger Games’ for ‘Twilight’ romance