A few parts in Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 have been announced this week. I will get to my thoughts on the casting of Cressida (Natalie Dormer!), Annie and Messalla in a later post, but I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about my thoughts on Mockingjay in general.
The Hunger Games has fallen victim to what I am going to call the Deathly Hallows effect. It is now common that when a book series is being turned into a movie series, the last book is split into two movies. Harry Potter did it first with the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. Twilight then copied and made final book Breaking Dawn into two movies. So, inevitably The Hunger Games followed suit and will be splitting the final book into two movies.
I’m a little apprehensive about this decision. Now, I love Harry Potter 7.1 but I will agree with the criticism that it is a lot of camping and camping and a little action. I’m worried Mockingjay Part 1 is going to be the same. Its going to be a lot of hospital stays and hospital stays and a little action. Katniss spends a rather large portion of the first part of the book in the hospital with Johanna. She then goes out and does something badass, then she gets injured and ends up back in the hospital with Johanna. So, much like how Harry Potter 7.1 is Harry and Hermione hanging out in tents, Mockingjay Part 1 could be a lot of Katniss and Johanna hanging out in a hospital room.
I’m not saying that is going to be a bad thing, especially not for me. Johanna is a good character and much of Katniss’ internal thought process is given to us as she is in a hospital bed. Will non-book readers and flaking fans find it as exciting? I don’t know. I’m assuming much like in the first movie and seemingly in the second, we are going to see what is going on away from Katniss. For Mockingjay Part 1 that is probably going to be a lot of what is happening to Peeta in the Captiol, if not he is hardly going to be in Part 1. And little to no Josh Huntcherson is certainly going to piss off fans.
My best case scenario would have been The Hunger Games avoiding the Deathly Hallows effect all together, but if it had to split a book in two my first choice would have been Catching Fire. In my opinion how District 12 and Katniss herself are different after the events of the first book is more interesting than the daily life aspects of District 13 and Katniss getting to know her movie crew. I would sit through a whole movie exploring the psychological and sociological impacts of Katniss and Peeta winning the games, their experience on the victory tour and getting to know the other victors before they even enter the arena. How would a Hunger Games without a Hunger Games or big battle to replace it have gone over with fans? Probably not very well. But as a huge fans of the books and the world Suzanne Collins created, I would have liked it.
I have been following the casting for Catching Fire pretty closely and I have been wanting to do this post for a while. But, I decided to wait until Finnick was announced. I didn’t think I would have to wait this long. Anyway, it was announced today that Sam Clafin will be playing Finnick. So, here are my thoughts on casting.
I’m not really sure how I feel about this choice. In my opinion it was a little too obvious. Sam Clafin has been playing the young, hot love interest in everything since his role in Pirates 4. I feel like this choice is like giving the role to Orlando Bloom or Josh Harnett if this movie was coming out in 2006. I was more hoping for Armie Hammer, who was one of the top-three choices for Finnick, a victor/tribute from District 4. Finnick is supposed to be taller than every other character. Sam Clafin is only 5’11”, while Armie Hammer is 6’5″. But, most of the cast is taller than Josh Hutchinson (5′ 7″) anyway so maybe they didn’t want Finnick to make him look too short. With all that said, Sam Clafin will probably make a great Finnick. He is hot, but not overly. And he has the it-guy status for our world, like Finnick is supposed to have for Panem. So, maybe he is the best choice.
Did I say something about obvious casting? Yeah, well I feel the same way about Jena Malone as Johanna. I like Jena Malone and I think she will make a great Johanna, a victor/tribute from District 7. And I think that because I know her as Rocket from “Sucker Punch.” Now “Sucker Punch” got pretty bad reviews and most people probably did not see it. But, I did and I liked it. Rocket was one of the supporting characters. She is just as bad-ass of a fighter as everyone else. She can be cunning and use sexual appeal to get what she wants. She seems strong, but really she was the hidden and terrible past, which lands her in bad situations that she needs her friends to help her out of. Now, Hunger Games fans, do you understand? Jena Malone will be able to play the perfect Johanna, because she played the perfect Rocket and Rocket is Johanna. As I said, I like it but it seems too obvious.
Aside from all that, I always pictured Johanna as a Southern California blonde with really long hair, which I know she isn’t. So, this did not fit my picture of Johanna, but I never pictured Johanna correctly. Well, at least we know Jena Malone looks good with short hair. Bald? I’m not so sure.
“We are the Hunger Games. We can get big names. So, we get big names.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman will be playing Plutarch and adding his name to the “Big Names” list of all the adult characters in the series; Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland. You understand. I’m excited about this. Most of the adults characters seemed to be cast in the thought of, “What is the biggest name we can get?” And then they get the big name and the big name is awesome. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, the head gamemaker for the Quarter Quell, will also be awesome. He doesn’t do too much in the Catching Fire book. But I’m interested to see if that will be changed and we will get more of him, similar to Seneca Crane’s expanded role in the first movie.
I really like this choice. Though she always looked like my grandma in my head and I thought the Betty White suggestions were hilarious, Lynn Cohen is a more realistic version of Mags, a victor/tribute from District 4. I’ve never seen anything she has been in but she fits the Mags look. Most of the arguments of Mags casting is that she has to be light enough for Finnick to carry her easily, but just heavy enough that Katniss struggles with her. I think she works for that.
Amanda Plummer as Wiress
I don’t have much to say about this choice. She fits my idea of Wiress, a victor/tribute for District 3, and she has been in a lot of stuff, sadly I have not seen any of it though. I’m sure she will be good. Tick Tock.
Enobaria and Brutus are the victors/tribute from District 2. Much like Cato and Clove, they are supposed to be excellent fighters and scary. I think the head shot that has been used for Meta Golding with a lot of her casting announcements is creating some fuss. That picture makes her look really young and really pretty. She is actually really pretty, but she is also 31. I pictured Enobaria a little scarier but I never thought Leven Rambin was scary until I saw her as Glimmer so I’m sure that will be changed. Brutus is perfect.
These two are perfect. Chaff and Seeder are the only two victor/tributes that Katniss and Peeta really interact with before the Quarter Quell begins, because they are both friends with Haymitch. They are from District 11, whose tributes always seem to be buddy-buddy with District 12. They look nice and friendly, I just like them all round. And Peeta having two legs probably means only good things for Chaff’s missing arm.
These two are perfect, also. Gloss and Cashmere are the brother-sister victor/tribute pair from District 1. They are supposed to be fierce and beautiful. They both models, in addition to actors, and they look like they could be related. So, good casting all around.
There is still no news on Beetee from District 3, Blight from District 7 and the morphlings from District 6. I don’t know if Darius or Gale’s family will make it into the movie, but there is no word on them either.
Being a pretty big fan of The Hunger Games series, I assumed I would start this post with a wild statement about how awesome the movie was. But after re-reading the book, seeing the movie (twice actually), and have conversations with multiple different people (ranging in age from 13 to 22) about it I have come to a conclusion: it was OK. Getting to see everything on-screen was cool, but the movie kind of feels like an abridged version of the book. There are two things that cause this: lacking details and internal dialogue.
Let’s start with lacking details. The movie showed us ever major event that happened in the book and it is two hours and 22 minutes long. Because there was a lot of stuff that had to be included for the movie to make sense, small stuff was excluded. Some of it I agreed with. Eliminating Madge as a character made sense for the sake of time and all she really does in the first book is give Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) the mockingjay pin. While eliminating the prep team–Venia, Flavius and Octavia– was probably also done for the sake of time, I think it effects the story more. The prep team is a representation of the Capitol and, later, how Katniss learns to understand how people in the Capitol think. Lots of other small details are left out too such as the explanation of Katniss’ relationship with her mom, her relationship with the citizens of District 12, the red-haired Avox girl, etc. Personally, I think the movie should have been longer to allow for more details. I would have sat through a three-hour Hunger Games movie, and I’m sure most fans of the book would feel the same.
Speaking of the book, the biggest problem the movie seemed to face was the inability to use internal dialogue. The book is told in the first person by Katniss and a majority of the content is her thinking to herself alone in the arena. Obviously, Katniss’ thoughts were a little harder to convey in the movie. The movie does a good job in some parts; Katniss shoots a rather disgusted look at the girl from District 8 who lights the fire and the feeling of betrayal is accurately portrayed when Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) walks by with the Careers. This problem seemed to have a greater effect on the movie than the lacking details. If I had not read the book I feel like a would have been confused. Also, it seems to play down the fact that Katniss is faking the star-crossed lovers from District 12 thing. One of my friends suggested voice-over or narration by Katniss, I think that would have worked.
But, regardless of the problems I had with the movie, I did like it. Seeing some things on-screen were more intense than reading them such as Cato (Alexander Ludwig) snapping the boy from District 3’s neck and Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman) hitting Katniss in the head with a knife. Combat-wise, the feast scene was my favorite part. The movie did change a few things. I don’t really like or dislike them, I more just interested to see how they play out. Some of the things are small in terms of how they will affect the story, like Peeta having two legs for example. Others will affect the series or at least the next movie, like District 11 rebelling after Rue is killed when in the book it doesn’t start until the Katniss and Peeta are there on the victory tour.
While we are on the topic of District 11, whose tributes black, I would like to comment on the racist backlash that the Hunger Games is facing. Some of this is kind of old, but I just took notice of it yesterday. Click these links if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Now, I saw the trailer and thought the movie looked cool, so I read the book. I only mention that because my image of Cinna was already set as Lenny Kravitz. The first time I read the book, I didn’t picture Rue (Amandla Stenberg) and Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) being black. I pictured tan, way tanner than Katniss but not exactly black, even though they are described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” When I saw the trailer again after reading the book, I felt embarrassed that I totally missed it, but I looked at the characters and thought, “that is perfect.” . I’m disgusted that people are mad because they are black and that’s not how they pictured them. Obviously it was what Suzanne Collins wanted and it shouldn’t change how Rue, Thresh and Cinna are thought about.
That paragraph kind of sums up my views on casting. I thought everyone was perfect. I really like that Jennifer Lawrence looks nothing like Katniss, but dressed up like Katniss she looks exactly how I pictured her. I have tried to explain this many times and kind of failed, but it’s like Katniss isn’t an actress she is a character and only a character.
In conclusion, I thought the movie could have been better (or maybe just longer), but I still liked it. I will probably see it again, buy it the day it comes out on DVD and see the midnight showing of Catching Fire.