At this point, it’s nearly impossible to have never heard of Suzanne Collins’ young-adult phenomenon, The Hunger Games. First published in 2008, the book centers on 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen and the bizarre post-apocalyptic world she inhabits. Every year, the government chooses one boy and one girl in each of the world’s 12 districts to fight to the death in a televised event called The Hunger Games. This movie will adapt the first novel in what has since become a trilogy. 

What The Hunger Games has going for it is the undeniable talent of director Gary Ross. This movie doesn’t seem to go the Twilight route by forcing Ross to conform to the source material’s bland world; instead, his sense of scope and his expertise in the theme of youthful unrest are on full display here without any muzzle. It’s evident that he isn’t just creating a movie that caters to the novel’s hardcore fan base, but is attempting to craft a well-rounded movie for all audiences.

One of the pitfalls with creating a Hunger Games movie is that a studio is going to have to depend on young actors to carry the whole thing. Surprisingly, Lionsgate made a pretty impressive choice in Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: First Class) to play the lead role of Katniss Everdeen. There is strength and confidence to her performance from what is seen in this trailer, but hopefully she can rise above the monotone whisper that she shows off during most of the footage. On the more negative side, there isn’t much shown of Josh Hutcherson or Liam Hemsworth’s roles in the film, but neither has been particularly impressive in previous performances. However, a supporting cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, and Stanley Tucci can easily make up for the shortcomings of the male leads.

The Hunger Games looks to show audiences that not all young-adult movie adaptations have to be like Twilight. By giving us real drama, an interesting premise, and hopefully some strong acting from Lawrence, The Hunger Games should appeal to both fans of the books and newcomers. If Gary Ross can craft an interesting post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie with a little bit of social commentary like the original Planet of the Apes or Logan’s Run, then The Hunger Games might stand a chance at success when it is released on March 23, 2012.