Happy Hunger Games!
If you weren't one of the one million people who saw the film at midnight last night and are wrestling with whether or not to go this weekend, here are my 16 reasons why you should make a point to make the trek out to your local theater and catch the film as soon as possible.
Not only is Jennifer Lawrence the perfect Katniss (I take back all my naysaying!) who nails her internal struggles, telling us everything we need to know with her eyes, but as a person, she is one of those rare gems we need more of in this industry. Self-effacing, real, honest and unafraid, she has the potential to become one of the definitive great actresses of the next generation and here is the film that will catapult her into stardom. Seeing the movie both supports her career, and grants you the pleasure of watching her embody the iconic Katniss Everdeen inside and out.
To support films with female leads
They say films with a female lead generally can't open, no matter how often the mysterious "they" may be proven wrong. So continue to support strong leading roles for women by throwing your weight behing Hunger Games.
Katniss is the role model young women need
Unlike the lead in a certain other young adult series cum film franchise, Katniss' purpose isn't to simply be with a man, but rather protect her family and *all* of the people she loves. She is fueled by keeping her promises and doing what is right, via wit, reasoning, and courage, despite her fears and insecurities. She may be a teenage girl, somewhat broken by poverty & war, who at times makes irrational decisions, as you do, but ultimately, her heart is in the right place and she exhibits all the qualities of someone we actually root for and want to succeed. Please prefer Katniss over Bella, future daughter. I beg of you.
Author of the books and co-writer of the screenplay, Suzanne Collins, has been very open in talking about where her idea for Hunger Games came from. Yes, it all goes back to greek mythology ultimately, but the specifics came from flipping back and forth between war footage and reality television. Is the future we see in the Hunger Games really that much of a stretch? There are enough similarities in the world we see in the book and film to make it almost tangible, and thus all the more frightening. The series is ultimately about the awful truths of war, a war that is painted over, made to look pretty, disguised as something entertaining, as something necessary, as something we should be honored to be a part of. Collins does a great job of drawing us in, only to rip the rug out from under us. The film does a great job of beginning this journey at an extremely appropriate time in our history.
I doubted him. Boy did I doubt him. But that face! That sweet, expressive, totally in love face! Although I thought the character didn't get to do quite enough, I thought Hutcherson stepped up to the plate with gusto in order to nail what material he was given. The brief moment when he looks out the window and loses it while leaving District 12? The thoughts running through his head when he says he doesn't want to forget? The way he looks at Katniss ALL of the time?! Well done, Hutcherson. You have officially won me over.
To be a part of the conversation (potential spoiler alert)
I liked the movie. A lot. I also have some problems with it, namely the short shrift the Katniss/Peeta relationship gets. Not because I'm girling out and wanted a better makeout scene (but also, I am and I did), but because even though I understand certain areas had to be emphasized and other areas had to be deemphasized in order to properly set up the series' enormous tone shift of a final installment, putting Katniss' relationship with Peeta so far in the background takes away a lot of what the first book so wonderful and potentially harms the impact of certain events in book two and three. My ultimate theory is this will be fixed in book two, but, for those of who don't know what I'm talking about - don't you kind of want to? I want to debate! I want to see who feels similarly! Who agrees, who disagrees, who liked the movie and who didn't, and the long list of reasons why. If you don't see the movie, you will immediately be in the minority, especially if you are in the entertainment industry, and this is an *exciting* conversation to be able to partake in.
Maintains the integrity of the work
It's pretty rare that a movie so captures the tone and atmosphere of its source material the way Hunger Games does, and although it's not a word for word adaptation and many parts do get truncated, what the film gets right, it gets perfectly, and anything that is wrong seems to have a reasonable explanation. Everyone involved in the making of the film wouldn't have it any other way, and shouldn't we be supporting that when we can? The film was not dumbed down and did not placate to the Twilight audience. Quite the opposite in fact, as I mentioned above.
So you can tell Jeff Wells what's what
He said you can't trust female reviewers of the movie and that essentially the only right answer is that the film is stupid because it alters itself to be more appealing to teen girls. This is so far from the truth or sense of any kind, that it makes me want to scream. Scream with me, won't you?
Thank goodness Banks campaigned so damn hard for this role. She is perfection, bringing in roughly 95% of the laughs in the film with her overly enthusiastic and forgivably snippy line readings. There is an authenticity Banks brings to the role with ease that I can't image other actresses fans considered, such as Kristin Chenoweth, could bring to the table.
Maybe it'll make you rent/buy Battle Royale?
One can always hope, right? PS - if you *wanted*, you could buy your new blu-ray of Battle Royale right here :)
Okay, so this isn't really a reason to see the movie, but more a reason to buy the soundtrack. It's fantastic. Rock, appalachian, americana, alt-county, but all with a unifying sense of "We send our children into an arena to kill each other." Artists include personal favorites Low Anthem, The Civil Wars, Glen Hansard, The Secret Sisters and Arcade Fire, and that's just to name a few. Three of these songs play over the closing credits. So hey, that totally counts as a reason to see the movie after all! Huzzah!
Successful World Building
If you appreciate solid production design, costumes, hair, makeup, art direction and so on, you will get a huge kick out of Panem and everyone in it. The capitol is decked out in bright colors and outrageous accoutrements, each citizen a feast for the eyes. Meanwhile, District 12 represents the polar opposite, existing in seemingly another era, much more Appalacia of the 1800s then the flamboyantly variegated landscape of the distant future. While both areas are completely different, they still feel as though they exist in the same universe - not an easy feat. Overall, the movie is an undeniable treat for design junkies, however you may feel about any other part of it.
Stanley Tucci is aces in the role of Caeser Flickerman, completely encompassing what the "host" of the Hunger Games would really be like. He is a slightly more sinister Ryan Seacrest with blue hair and no apologies and watching Tucci have a ball with the role is a hoot.
Relate to the kids!
So I don't have kids or work with kids anymore, and frankly still kind of consider myself a kid, but if finding ways to relate to the youth is of importance to you, seeing Hunger Games will certainly help. Be the open parent that goes with your kids and discusses it afterward, or the hip parent that can impress your kids' friends with your insight and knowledge into their beloved franchise. Here is something you and your pre-teens/teens can enjoy together, that is potentially so important to them, that anything associated with it will create a long lasting and important memory.
It's even better the second time!
Anything that bothered me the first time melted away upon a second viewing, allowing me to truly dive in to the small, but crucial moments between Katniss and Peeta, and really take in every clue about how their relationship turns out post Hunger Games during the rushed ending. Once you're past the first viewing when you spend most of your time judging, you can settle in and let yourself absorb how solid the adaptation really is. But to get to a second time, there must be a first.
To be a part of the phenomenon
One million pre-sale tickets for a midnight show doesn't happen very often. As we've touched on, these ticket sales are for a film based on a book, written by a woman, with a *strong* female lead character, that doesn't compromise the ultimate point of the series or integrity of the story by dumbing it down for audiences, with an incredible soundtrack and spot on performances. Don't pass up the opportunity to see it during all of the excited fervor. Anticipation and quality rarely match up so heartily and it would be a shame to miss out on experiencing it properly.