Caesar Flickerman’s blue ‘do, Cinna’s gold eyeliner, and Effie Trinket’s McQueen booties are the true winning victors of The Hunger Games, clearly.
Got a press release today in my inbox featuring the final poster for Catching Fire = best press release.
LOOK. AT. THEM.
I was rewatching The Hunger Games again last night (because it was after midnight on a Tuesday and I’m an adult now) and I can’t imagine anybody making for a better Caesar Flickerman than Stanley Tucci. That man was the full on definition of pizazz. Which I feel like I’m spelling wrong but I’m not.
On a related note, one of my best friends and I have a terrible running joke together that if Panem was a real thing, she would be in one of the Districts (that one with the grain, I think, or District 12) and I would be in the Capitol. When you can find the Katniss Everdeen to your Effie Trinket, that’s when you know you’ve got a true blue friend indeed.
It’s the million dollar question… were the odds ever in my favor last night at the midnight showing of “The Hunger Games?”
Million dollar answer says yes. Yes they were.
Instead of review this movie the old fashioned way by discussing plot points and missing scenes from the book and in general spoiling the crap out of it for you, I’m reviewing by character. A starring system for each character represented. Though if I wanted to be truly in the spirit of the Games, I’d do it by number but alas, for I am sleep-deprived and currently working from home for the day and have yet to watch this movie an unprecedented number of times to come.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)
From the very beginning, I had had my doubts about Jennifer playing Katniss. Even before the trailer, I worried excessively. My worry was based on so much. I expected Katniss to be gaunt, undernourished, and woefully lacking on the social graces and charms of the average girl her age. And then I see Jennifer who is clearly not undernourished and blonde with a sunny attitude and a good set of boobs (IT HAS TO BE SAID, YOU’RE ALL THINKING IT). Hate on this comment all you want but this is the first and last time that looking like Kristen Stewart would have actually been ideal for a District 12 citizen. Look, not act though. That’s key.
Lawrence pleasantly surprised me. She was tough. Most of the scenes from the book that I had seen in my head played out on par, particularly the ones in the arena. She wasn’t at her most charming during her interview with Caesar (that one in particular I kept waiting for it to become a better scene but ultimately it fell flatter than I expected) but overall she was a badass, a friend, a devoted family member, and a crush for a couple of boys and it was nice to see all that and more represented with actual emotions and no wooden acting skills.
Her "girl on fire" costume was a huge disappointment though. People please, put down the CGI effects. ***and a half stars.
Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson)
Again, another casting choice I was doubtful about because Peeta, while not necessarily a dreamboat to begin with, is just one of those guys with a good heart that you fall for over the course of the first book and subsequent follow-ups. Not to say that Hutcherson couldn’t pull it off but I worried he’d be one of the weaker links in the romantic triangle and was particularly keen to see just how charismatic he could be during his interviewing process. The boy did good. Good not great which is why it hurts me to some degree to give him the star I do. But only if because with Peeta, at this point it’s hard to look at him beyond the friend zone or “you’re more of a big sister, Milhouse” kinda way. I anticipate to see how he’ll change that in the rest of the series. *** stars.
Haymitch (Woody Harrelson)
Oh Haymitch, the loveable District 12 victor who wears his flask on his sleeve. Why didn’t we get to see more of you? Where was that bathing scene? (Gross as it may be, it’s still a great and humanizing bit.) Somebody needs to explain what the deal with your hair was big time. Until then, I look forward to seeing you stumble around the victor house in the next movie. *** stars.
Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks)
Yet another casting choice I was reluctant about because I feel like Banks gets cast in far too many projects that don’t necessarily need her touch. But it’s kind of amazing what makeup and day-glo ensembles can do for a person along with a sunny and overly cheery disposition. Effie is trying you guys, really she is. During the Reaping, all she wants is for you to get that throwing 24 random kids she doesn’t know into an arena to kill each other truly is for the greater good. You can almost hear her breathe a sigh of relief once the train pulls into the Capitol’s station. *** stars.
Gale (Liam Hemsworth)
I was missing some of that good old fashioned Gale jealousy and hormonal dude outbursts at the government that are really just in desperate need of sexytime cover-ups but there’s plenty more where that came from to come. Gale did his role of strapping forest lad for what it was and that was that people. No Taylor Lautner shirt popping to see here. Yet. *** stars.
Cinna (Lenny Kravitz)
You know who popped into my head the first time I read Cinna’s dialogue? Cillian Murphy. Hot. Damn. People. You know who did not pop into my head any of times I’ve read Cinna’s dialogue or basically since the early 2000’s? Lenny Kravitz. But my goodness did he deliver. He made Cinna just how you read him- fashionable and insightful with just a touch of “imma fuck with the Capitol” up his sleeve. ***and a half stars.
Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci)
Just give this man all of the awards because he owned this part and was wonderfully gleeful about it from beginning to end. If Caesar Flickerman was an actual person with an actual talk show, I’d watch it religiously. **** stars.
Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley)
First off, may I just say how awesome it is to see the creepy camera guy from American Beauty back on the silver screen embracing some crop-circle esque facial hair? ALL THE EARLY 2000’S PEOPLES BE ALL UP IN THIS MOVIE. In the book I was more or less ambivalent about Crane because his involvement with the Games was never all that clear. What the film version of The Hunger Games did that the book did not was take us behind the scenes at the Games at the technology that went into manipulating the arena. Not only was it fascinating to watch, if the audience was ever going to be confused during about why the hell burning trees were falling down one minute and then it was clouding over at noon, this answered all of their questions and more. You could tell Crane is usually used to being at the top of his game during the well, Games, but around Snow & Co. he’s all talk and no action, with much of that talk being nervous anyhow. *** stars.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland)
By far the weakest link in the bunch, President Snow disappointed me in his lack of being sufficiently creepy enough. There were moments though, particularly during his little speech on hope and fear and with the mucus hankie where I could feel a future, more malicious version of Snow coming on but we’ll have to see where that takes it in the next movie. I was impressed at how Lawrence was able to hold her own with him. But then again, when the thoughts of “Grandpa” and “Father Christmas” are floating through your head when you look at the dude, you know it’s time to step up that terror factor. *** stars.
As a collective group (because who actually has time to dissect each one’s performance?) they could kick ass and take names as well as lives. Individually, they were pretty average. Your ordinary teenager pulled into the arena who adapts to group think at a freakishly fast speed with a damn near ridiculous sudden bloodlust. I think I was supposed to be entranced by Glimmer more? Which one was Foxface again? Rue. Rue was cute. I don’t know. My emotional attachments to these people failed on too many levels and the only one of the group who really, really pulled her weight was Clove but that’s only because Isabelle Fuhrman played her and she was freaky as shit in that movie Orphan. United the Tributes would have killed each other and divided so they did. **and a half stars.
Prim (Willow Shields)
Prim is clearly Katniss’ heart and the unfortunate thing is that Prim is such a soft touch that the slightest nudge and she’s down and out. Your sister can’t fight all of your battles for ya, little duck. **and a half stars.
The Avox Girl
Hello? Do I not get to see some infamous tongue chopping Capitol action up in here? Apparently not. And I guess opening this with “hello” is a bit on the insensitive side anyway. WELP, time for me to be hitting the dusty old trail… * star.
Happy Post Hunger Games!
While I sit here waiting for it to be midnight on Thursday March 22nd so I can grab my assigned movie theater seat and feel all the emotions watching The Hunger Games, I have decided to reflect back on a series of days in my life that were longer than necessary. A time in which time manipulated itself enough to be longer than feasible and made even 15 minutes seem like an eternity and beyond.
1) The Last Day Before Summer in High School
The last day of school was a painful hell to sit through because most of the classrooms at my h.s. were without AC and everyone was sweating it up. Trash cans stuffed with papers dotted the hallways. Every locker was empty and abandoned. It used to weird me out just how we could all make a particular spot our own for the span of 365 days and then pack it up and throw it out without a second glance in less than a week. Still does. It also amazes me just how quickly people go their own way once classes are over. This would become especially true once I got to college. I’m not saying you should linger in the hallways and make the moment last forever but my god, the way that people would peel out of the parking lot you’d think we were all running from the zombie apocalypse.
Me, I’d get home and head on up to the bookstore to read for a few hours and be alone before getting some Dairy Queen Blizzards on the walk back. Ahhh, summertime.
2) That Last Harry Potter Movie
I swear time came to a standstill far too many times to count. Even Facebook felt the ungodly slowness of time that day. I fear this noise deja vu’ing itself all over again tomorrow actually because it was just that bad and I am attending yet another midnight movie showing.
3) When I Went Car Shopping With My Dad
What started off as a simple visit to the dealer to look at cars turned into my dad signing contracts and freaking out over prices and negotiating the deal on what would turn into our second family car at the time. Admittedly, I did behave like a little bitch though, whining and complaining that we would never get out of there to go home and also making fun of how much he was sweating. A minimum of 4 hours were spent trapped at that dealership. 4. Hours.
4) Most Plane Flights
Internally, I am exactly that type of flight passenger Louis C.K. did a bit on in which they complain about a plane ride being longer than 5 hours but damnit people that is a long time when you are on an aircraft that doesn’t have the best WiFi, TV capabilities, and maybe you forgot to bring along the sleeping pills to speed up the journey there/back process. In other news, guess who would have made a horrible pioneer? While the idea of time-travelling back to eras and centuries past is pretty on paper, y’all know the show would be over once my iPhone ran out of battery power and I learned that the Band-Aid and most antiseptics in general hadn’t been invented yet.
5) The Night Before Christmas
T-minus two days till the odds are ever in my favor,
It has occurred to me that this time next week I’ll be lingering in the post-Hunger Games aftereffects. I will either be in an extremely satisfied emotionally sound place, akin to having a full stomach of good food, or just… not in that place but a disappointed one, akin to what I imagine adults feel like when their children first lie to them and are caught in the act. All I can do is just watch the movie, hope for the best, and blog about it after. It’s all any of us can do.
God, this is morbid as all get out. And to think I almost made it my Facebook status. Sometimes I really and truly believe that someone needs to put a lock on my account to the things I can and cannot write.
My old roommate got us tickets to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games!!!!
Earlier this week, I had the absolute displeasure of having MSNBC confirm that Taylor Swift had released what is apparently being referred to as the “lead song” for upcoming film adaptation of The Hunger Games. I gave it a listen, hoping for something… I don’t know what. Just no “she wears high heels, I wear sneakers!” bullshit. The song is called “Safe & Sound” and features The Civil Wars doing the backup vocals and helping T. Swift on the acoustics.
I don’t even know why I bother sometimes placing faith into pop star humanity. The song was poppy. It was also slow and boring. The lyrics were meant to make you think crying is probably a good idea right now, isn’t it? Oh god, why aren’t I crying like the rest of the theater at these half-assed 9th grade English fiction short story lyrics? Must. Think. Other. Sad. Thoughts. Must. Focus. On. Acoustic. Guitar.
Screw these kinds of songs. I decided to create my own version of my dream Hunger Games playlist.
One thing before going in that is pretty important here. My dream playlist not mentioned here is an original score, preferably from Hans Zimmer who definitely knows how to get your blood racing or from Dario Marianelli circa the V for Vendetta period. So ideally, I’d rather not see or hear contemporary music on this kind of soundtrack, but since these are based on YA books I get wanting to include a bunch of songs with lyrics included.
Making a playlist of songs for dystopian material, especially that of which is set in the future requires a thoughtful ear and rules. Even if nobody ever listens to what I pulled together, here were the guidelines I followed in creating the playlist:
1) No previously used original scores from other films. Far too often do we hear that repetitive Clint Mansell piece being used gee I don’t know, fucking everywhere? This can be a tough rule to follow. I myself am extremely partial to many a composed score and in particular, when I think of creepy, dark undertone music I find myself listening to Jocelyn Pook’s “Masked Ball” from the Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack. But I don’t want to use it when I make a playlist because in my head, I’ll associate it with a film that has nothing to do with The Hunger Games, in a scene that definitely was a far cry from Panem (if you’ve seen the Kubrick movie, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
2) Contemporary music with lyrics is good. The lyrics have to correspond to the characters to some degree though or at least work with the scene.
3) Creativity with some tongue in cheek. There is an honorable mention that didn’t make the final cut but I kept it simply because of the title. Creativity goes hand in hand with edgy too. Don’t make a boring playlist! This is a book series based on life or death! You can’t have a super duper slow song unless it’s included towards the end.
4) Don’t make it too obscure. I know there’s going to be some hipster crying red about some of the choices, but guess what buddy- I made them! This is my playlist and there’s bound to be something on the commercial side rolling up in here. Don’t like it? Make your own. Do like it? I’m happy you do. I did put ample thought into creating it, after all.
1. Zoe Keating- Escape Artist
2. Jem- 24
3. Justice- Parade
4. Shiny Toy Guns- Ricochet!
5. DJ Shadow- The Number Song
6. Jane’s Addiction- True Nature
7. The Glitch Mob- Fortune Days
8. Enigma- Push the Limits
9. Zoe Keating- Hello Night
10. Massive Attack- Butterfly Caught
11. Hybrid- Choke
12. Olafur Arnalds- 30:55
13. Theatre of Tragedy- A Distance There Is
14. Conjure One- Endless Dream
15. Royksopp- Triumphant
*Rob Zombie- Girl on Fire (not included. See? I told you.)
On Friday night, I finished up reading Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games series. If you are wondering if you should pick up a copy of the first book and read it, maybe a little bit afraid that since it’s in the teen aisle at the bookstore and may contain wording akin to Stephanie Meyer’s series on sparkly vampires, by all means get a copy. It is nothing like most of the teen fiction that is out on the market today. The Hunger Games in a word is jarring. Mentally and physically so. The premise of the series is that in a future America (better known as Panem) there are 12 districts and a Capitol which is the central government. Once a long time ago, there was a rebellion against the Capitol and as both a punishment and reminder to the districts for what they did, an annual Hunger Games event is held with one boy and one girl chosen from each district via a lottery drawing. The contestants are all put together in an arena and forced to fight until the death. They are also between the ages of 12-18 years old. Children.
There were many times when reading the series (especially in the final book) where I had to put it down for some time and go do something else. It’s not exactly a light summertime read. Gripping and enthralling, yes, but horrific and nightmare-inducing if you sat on the thoughts for too long and thought about them too much, also yes. You won’t like the government much after reading this series. There were moments where I was reminded of the Holocaust more than once. Ever since I was in grade school, the Holocaust has been an aspect of history that causes me to cry almost within minutes of seeing footage or film reenactments. I simply cannot understand what would bring so many people to be so hateful against another group of individuals. Or what kind of just god would allow for the suffering of so many (God, it should be noted, does not seem to exist in The Hunger Games which makes for an interesting take on the future of religion).
Beyond the books, the theme of the world ending is drawing nearer on the silver screen as well. In Time is a trailer I keep seeing staring Justin Timberlake (I didn’t want to write that either) that is set in the future of when people stop aging at 25 and the new currency is time as opposed to money. You want to keep living, you need time to do it with. Though this movie won’t take over one of my very favorite apocalyptic films, Children of Men, which if you haven’t seen it, make it next in your netflix queue. Undoubtedly more and more of these films and books will keep cropping up as all of the brouhaha over the world ending in 2012 according to the Mayan calendar draws near.
After reading The Hunger Games, I had dreams about being trapped in the arena. In my dreams, the arena was always snowing and cold, and I had to fight against past contestants from America’s Next Top Model. It’s caused me to run some ideas of world ending storylines in my own head too. I was already working on a little side piece about the future in my own spare time (the little I have), but these books brought other ideas into the mix too. Such as the future of working. Marriage. People as a whole. Weight and physical appearance. The mind. Even death. Control, as an ever-present theme. The need to have it over others as a way to reassure the self that it can handle every and any situation, despite extremities. The romantic within me does like to envision the future with love in it. The sensationalist in me likes the theory of aliens invading the earth (I am such a sucker for a terrible alien film). The optimist in me likes to envision in the future everyone will be content with what they do, but I’m sure that there is a person who has that thought every 200 or so years too.
Nostalgia is another overriding theme lately. Maybe one day in the future, we will have all stopped living within our present and keep fleeing to days gone by because they were simpler and better within our eyes. People enable us to live within the past. Machines filter in the good ole days into our line of vision nonstop. But then one day we won’t be able to flee anymore. There will be a malfunction of some sort and the world will have to look at what they are suddenly faced with having, with owning, with living in. The fight to make their realization that they can’t go back tie in with where they are now.
I call that story idea “Today.”
This has been a nerdy post of self-actualization,