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Apologies to Jennifer Lawrence: Hunger Games trailer looks awesome!

November 14, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence IS Katniss Everdeen!

At the risk of swinging too far in the other direction, I take back every bad thing I may have said when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss in the film version of The Hunger Games.

The first preview for the the movie was unveiled on Good Morning America this morning. If you can judge from a single trailer, it looks as if the filmmakers are doing everything exactly right.

Miami Book Fair International continues this evening with humorist, reporter, travel writer and raconteur Calvin Trillin at 6, followed by humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer at 8. For more information, visit the book fair’s website.

When Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen, I carped that, at 21, she was too old to play the 16-year-old heroine in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling and rabidly loved YA sci-fi adventure trilogy. Yes, I knew she was a gifted young actress from her Oscar-nominated performance in lat year’s indie sensation, Winter’s Bone. But still: The woods are full of talented teen actresses.

Well, hush my mouth. In the trailer, she doesn’t just play the role, she becomes Katniss, and she does in the first three seconds of screen time.

Everything else appears to be right, too– I feared the filmmakers would pretty up Katniss’s rustic village, but no, they get it just right. Actors in all the roles are instantly convincing, the cinematography is gorgeous, the editing fleet.

Lawrence even draws back her bow string with the correct finger grip — as a boy who grew up in the country, this is ridiculously important to me.

Best of all — and this is almost unheard of in Hollywood trailers nowdays — the preview sets up the movie beautifully without giving away the entire story or even any significant plot twists. You know what the movie’s about, but not where it’s going.

I came away with my little geek heart thumping like a rabbit. This is one of the more thrilling and efficient previews I’ve seen since….I can’t think when.

If the movie is half as polished and adroit as this first preview, then The Hunger Games will be an instant classic, taking a place alongside The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

And adapting a successful Young Adult fantasy novel is not easy. The recent past is littered with failures, The Golden Compass and City of Ember perhaps the two most notable mischances. Despite lots of money, lots of talent, and lots of effort, they’re both pretty awful.

In a way it’s a terrible thing when cynicism turns to hope. When I didn’t care, I could not be disappointed. Now, I’m invested — which, I suppose, is what a trailer is supposed to do.

I say, if there were an Oscar for best preview, then this should get it. Check it out and see if you agree. You can find the thing all over the Internet, but here’s a link to Entertainment Weekly, which has the video and an slavering commentary to go with it.

Which, come to think of it, kind a describes this one, too.

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