Have we really not done a Hunger Games movie post yet?? It’s really possible that this happened (equally possible that *I* was the one who wrote it) and just don’t remember, but whatever. There’s been a slew of casting news lately and that’s sort of… newsworthy… OKAY, LET’S GO.
First of all, The Hunger Games. I’m not going to write a beautiful post like Kelly’s on Mockingjay, I’ll just say quickly: this trilogy is brilliant and awesome and just really, really, really good, and it’s sort of *happening* right now, so. You know. Read it.
I have been pretty ambivalent about the idea of a movie from start. I guess in some ways the book sort of lends itself to being a movie… it’s all visual, and action-packed, and there’s lots of fighting and explosions and big emotions and all that. But it’s confusing because what is visually happening in the books is often very specifically NOT what is actually happening.
Katniss spends a lot of time trying to figure out gift-clues from Haymitch and kissing-Peeta-but-not-meaning-it, and in general, seeing her thought process about everything that goes down is what makes everything really exciting. So how will they capture all of this in film?
“They’ll just do a voice-over,” is what one of my friends replied all too readily. My response to this is: UGH. Does anyone else think that would be really cheesy? The only movie I can think of that successfully uses a running voice-over is Memento, but maybe it only works because that movie is super freakin’ weird already. But who knows. If I’m to believe the hype about Jennifer Lawrence’s acting chops (I’ll try not to hold it against her that I will probably first see her as Mystique in X-men: First Class) then maybe she could pull off something like a voice-over. Maybe she could… MAKE IT WORK.
And SPEAKING OF THE CAST (don’t you love how my posts are always really coherent and follow logical progressions?? Me too!), guys, Tim Gunn should probably play Cinna. No, I mean REALLY. I know he’s older than Cinna is supposed to be–Cinna is supposed to be young and new on the scene, and yadda yadda yadda, but if they can hire an actor over the age of 50 to play James Potter (a character who doesn’t live to see the age of 21) in a film, then SURELY it doesn’t matter.
Seriously, just take a moment to soak in the amazingness of Tim Gunn ordering around Katniss’s stylists and creating all those awesome dresses for her. The fact that there is not already a vast internet campaign in place for this casting boggles my mind.
I guess I should move on and talk about the casting of Peeta and Gale a bit. I was Team Peeta all the way, in case anyone was wondering. I think most people are–Team Gale is a little too punk rock for me. (And then, of course, by the end of Mockingjay you realize that this is SO not what the books are about, so it doesn’t matter anyway.)
Finding someone who can play Peeta correctly seemed like a challenge to me. He’s such an interesting character–he’s arguably the nicest, goodest, all around least-fucked-up of anybody, and yet despite his size and actual, physical strength, his greatest strengths in the Games are his charisma and his ability to manipulate people (also icing). Even when he is probably terrified, he can keep up easy banter on a television interview, and in the arena he manages to form an alliance with Careers. He’s basically the exact opposite of Katniss, who has forced herself to become so detached from her own emotions that she lets them register too freely. Even though she manages to play the Games and fool the cameras, she’s almost completely guileless, and most of her victory moments are times when she does something from the heart, without planning it or over-thinking the consequences.
ANYWAY, I could go on and on with character analysis, but the point is, Peeta has to be charming as fuck and subtle to boot, and I am really glad that they didn’t get Alex Pettyfer. I’m all for Alex Pettyfer playing Jace, but I couldn’t understand why so many people wanted him for Peeta. Alex seems too rough around the edges to me. I don’t know anything about Josh Hutcherson either, but he has Suzanna Collins’ official seal of approval to be Peeta, so I’m cool with him for now.
I don’t have much to say about Liam Hemsworth as Gale except… why is that guy who was dating Miley Cyrus playing Gale?
There have been a lot of other casting announcements–some website or another is announcing one District at a time and showing the pictures of the boy and girl tributes. None of them are familiar to me. In fact, a lot of them have done stunt work rather than acting in the past. If you ask me, it’s creepy as fuck seeing their names and pictures revealed like that, for reasons you understand if you’ve read the books. I keep looking at the pictures and thinking, “This is what they would project on the sky…”
Which brings me to my final point about this movie: is it ethically okay for me to enjoy watching this movie? (Well, was it okay for me even to enjoy reading the book? I had a little too much fun reading about their time in the Catching Fire area…) Even if the movie does a good job of expressing the horrors of participating in the Games and being trapped in a totalitarian society, what happens when they make the video game? What happens when you can select to play as Cato or one of the other Career tributes and your objective isn’t just to survive, but to go around killing all the other kids? What happens when you enjoy playing that video game?
I had this idea that the only way they can really make a Hunger Games movie is if they just CREATE the footage of the Games. Like, we would only see what the people of Panem would see. We’d see the Reapings, all 12, ending with Katniss’s decision to replace Prim. We’d see all of the interviews and grand entrances, and we’d see the camera’s-eye-view of the Games. So you’d see Katniss covering Rue’s body with flowers, then the cameras quickly cutting away to some other tributes. And you’d see her hiding out with Peeta, and as far as you know they’d be completely in love with each other. And you’d see the sudden rule changes–especially at the end, with the berries, all voiced over by some over-cheery commentators.
I realize this movie isn’t actually possible because it would have no appeal to anyone beyond people who have read the books, and even then maybe not all of them. But I think it’s the most accurate way to look at the series through film. The film would probably be enjoyable, but it would also force you to confront the fact that you had enjoyed it. In my opinion, the film that is actually in the works needs to tread very, very carefully. But it looks like they’ve got good people working on it, so we’ll see.
Other casting notes: Why isn’t Kristen Chenoweth playing Effie? Why is John C. Reilly up for Haymitch when it should clearly be RDJ or Hugh Laurie? And seriously, that guy who was dating Miley Cyrus?
How do you feel about the Hunger Games cast so far?