Upcoming Dystopian Teen Films: Hit or Miss?

Ever since the box office success The Hunger Games hit theaters two years ago, movie companies have been scouring for YA adventure/fantasy/dystopian novels to bring to the big screen. Seeking to emulate Lionsgate’s massive success, the book to movie adaptations come and go, from The Mortal Instruments to The Host to Beautiful Creatures to Vampire Academy, all of which either failed at the box office or were panned by the critics. In 2013, the only one that really scored huge wasThe Hunger Games’ successor: Catching Fire. What an incredibly well-done movie! But the question is, can the 2014 YA dystopian novels-turned-movies beat their 2013 failures? Let’s take a look.

Divergent

Pros:
With an extremely large fan base from the novel by Veronica Roth as well as Lionsgate’s widespread publicity marketing, I predict that this will be a box office success. Many fans are planning to go to the midnight premiere. The premise is fascinating with a future city in which teens are separated into factions or categories in which they learn to develop a certain virtue. It also helps that Theo James (Four) is, in the words of my peers, extremely attractive.

Cons:
The initial reaction will not be as big as The Hunger Games, but ultimately, perhaps this is beneficial to the movie—going in with a high expectation may ruin the experience. In addition, some fans are upset that Theo James is approximately 10 years older than his character. How high is the worry level that this will turn out to be another Percy Jackson, with the wandering plot and miscast of characters? High. (But no worries, because this reporter has already watched the movie and thinks it really does justice to the book!)

The Maze Runner

Pros:
Again, another enthralling plot about a community of boys living in a maze in a post-apocalyptic setting. The author of the book, James Dashner also wrote the screen play. Even so early in the year, Fox is already releasing promotional images and will soon release their first teaser trailer, dangling bits and pieces for fans to leap up and hungrily grab. The cast may be young, but by no standards inexperienced, with Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf), Will Poulter (The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Ferb from “Phineas & Ferb”). Can this movie come out already?

Cons:
So the cast is great, but how about the crew? Wes Ball is better known for his work in the art department rather than his director credits. James Dashner, although he is an amazing author, has never written a screenplay before. Will the crew be able to handle bringing to screen a story that involves vicious creatures called Grievers and hundred-feet walls that move at night? We will simply have to wait and see—and pray that they don’t botch our beloved book and characters.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Pros:
The cast has already proven itself many times over, the crew is nothing short of phenomenal—Lionsgate could merely sit back, relax, and not even promote the film at all, yet there’ll be hour-long lines just to get into the theaters during opening week. We already know that the movie will do justice to the book as proven with Hunger Games 1 and 2. The gaps in between the franchise release dates are not excruciatingly long, so fan hype is still going strong.

Cons:
However, with only a year in between Catching Fire and Mockingjay, will the cast and crew have enough time to produce the movie to their best effort? Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death has thrown a wrench into the production with 7 days left of filming. Going back to the very first pro I mentioned for Mockingjay—perhaps fans’ high expectation could be the movie’s ultimate pitfall. Even if it is, we will still very much enjoy Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss trying to find her way around District 13.

Divergent is in theaters March 21, 2014. The Maze Runner is in theaters September 19, 2014. Mockingjay Part 1 is in theaters November 21, 2014.

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About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a senior at OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts). Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and National Student Poets Program. She has been chosen as finalists of playwriting competitions held by California Young Playwrights, The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, and Princeton University. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in TeenReads, Jet Fuel Review, Feminine Inquiry, Aerie International and more. She also conducts print and on-camera interviews as a Star Reporter and Film Critic for multiple online outlets. She won a National Gracie Award in Student Online Video Host Category by The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation . https://twitter.com/Cassandra_Hsiao

Posted on March 17, 2014, in Editor's Column, Movie Reviews, Star Rapture Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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