If you’ve read “The Hunger Games,” odds are you’ve found it irresistible. The bestselling young adult novel featuring child tributes forced to fight to the death, is impossible to close, despite obvious “Battle Royale” plagiarism. Lionsgate probably felt the same way. It purchased movie rights, secured an Oscar-ready cast headed by Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) and finally dropped a trailer.

The Hunger Games


Sadly, Oscar films don’t make money, while films that exploit fads do. “The Hunger Games” hasn’t reached the Edward vs. Jacob level of teeny-bopper stardom, but Lionsgate has done its best to shoehorn “Games” into that category, leaking clips to MTV for some TMZ love.

This ruins the trailer, which milks as much mass appeal as possible out of kids killing each other. The oppressed citizens of the film’s dystopia are ripped straight from a ’50s western. We move to the capitol and sets turn generic, akin to a “Star Trek” TV spin-off. But most damningly, the realization that innocent children are forced to kill each other never sinks in. Lionsgate has created a neutered, soon-to-be-forgotten cash cow.

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