Watch the Trailer for the New, Possibly Improved Hunger Games

Slate's Culture Blog
April 15 2013 9:14 AM

Katniss Returns in Trailer for New, Possibly Improved Hunger Games

Catching_Fire_Katniss_Jennifer_Lawrence
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Still from YouTube

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire marks the latest chapter in Lionsgate’s film adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ novels, and for the most loyal fans of the books, that may be all they need to know before purchasing their tickets. But this first sequel may also mark a slightly new direction for the movie franchise, one we’re now only seeing for the first time in this supersized “teaser” trailer, which debuted during last night’s MTV Movie Awards.

First, the series has been handed over to a new director, Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants, Constantine) who takes the place of Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit). The first film was a monster hit, so of course Lionsgate isn’t likely to let anyone change things up too much. Still, I’m relieved to see that Ross’ distractingly jittery camera appears, at least mostly, to have been done away with.

And then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, who arrives in the series as the delightfully named Plutarch Heavensbee, taking the place of the delightfully bearded Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley). Heavensbee is the new gamemaker—though the trailer wisely chooses to leave some surprises, there will of course be another Hunger Games—and Hoffman, who pretty much never phones it in, is apparently having some fun, deadpanning lines like, “I agree, she should die.”

The trailer ends with the four-note whistle of the first film, in a gesture surely meant to also evoke the way the successful Harry Potter films ended their trailers—but the new installment presents itself as more political than all those films. “From now on your job is to be a distraction so people forget what the real problems are, ” Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) tells Katniss (the now Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence). Of course, in our world, even entertaining distractions have their place—that’s all I’m expecting from this film—but we’ll see whether Catching Fire chooses to be anything more on November 22.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 3:24 PM Symantec Removes Its “Sexual Orientation” Filter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 3:04 PM Pogo Returns With Another Utterly Catchy Disney Remix
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.