'The Hunger Games: The Exhibition': Review

Marion Curtis

Whet your appetite for the blockbuster franchise's upcoming final installment with this elaborate traveling exhibit immersing you in the films' mythology

Fans of both sexes and all ages will find it easy to channel their inner Katniss Everdeen at The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, which recently set up camp at NYC's Discovery Times Square. Featuring a reported 1,000 props and 46 costumes from the hugely successful film franchise whose fourth and final installment opens this November, this interactive installation thoroughly immerses visitors in the dystopian world of Panem.

The experience begins with by a filmed introduction by actress Elizabeth Banks, as both herself and her wildly bewigged Effie Trinket character, which concludes with her intoning the benediction "May the odds be ever in your favor." You then proceed chronologically through a series of galleries featuring lavish recreations of the films' elaborate mythology, beginning with District 12, where Katniss grew up under impoverished circumstances. There you'll see such artifacts as the Mockingjay Pin given to Katniss in the Hob, the reaping outfits worn by Katniss and her sister Primrose and a re-creation of the Hall of Justice set.

Next you find yourself aboard the Tribute Train before reaching the Capitol, featuring such iconic props as the flowered tribute parade chariot, the victory party set and President Snow's imposing podium. Other objects on display throughout the exhibition are Finnick Odair's gold bracelet; various weapons employed by the rebels including a trident, a bow and arrows and a crossbow; and models of such fictional creatures as the tracker jacker and the jabberjay.

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But it's the lavish costumes on display that inspire the most awe, especially Katniss' "Girl on Fire" dress, her wedding gown that is evocative of Alexander McQueen and her Mockingjay armor.

Visitors are given ample opportunity for interaction via such objects as a touchscreen map of Panem and polling stations where you can vote for options like peace or revolution. So far the attendees seem to be a rebellious lot, as revolution is winning by a landslide.

You can sit down for an imaginary conversation with the bizarre Capitol TV personality Caesar Flickerman, eerily represented by a video screen displaying actor Stanley Tucci's head atop a mannequin. If you're a more adventurous type you can test your skills at tying knots or participate in a fight lesson delivered by a video of the films' stunt choreographer putting you through your paces.

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For an extra fee, of course, you can also don a cape and star in a short film of yourself atop a chariot, with a wind machine providing the proper hair-blown effect.

The inevitable gift shop at the exit features a dizzying array of seemingly endless products emblazoned with Hunger Games logos, including everything from can coolers to throw pillows to headphones to plush toys to coasters to expensive jewelry.

To its credit, the exhibition is as determinedly educational as it is lavish, providing background information about such things as the inspiration for Suzanne Collins' books — reality television and media war coverage were major influences — as well as behind-the-scenes videos, sketchbooks, designs and drawings.

While clearly designed for ardent fans, even those not immersed in the films' mythology will come away impressed by the thoughtfulness that went into this elaborate exhibit. It certainly serves to whet appetites for the upcoming final installment of the series opening in November.

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition continues its New York engagement until Jan. 3, after which it travels to San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Hall.  

 

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