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Catching Fire. November 29, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As someone who’s actually written a book about Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, I was looking forward to the film version of the second novel, “Catching Fire.” But I was surprised to read the gushing praise most critics have lavished on the film in comparison to the original film, “The Hunger Games.” I really liked the first film. How much better could this be?

Last night, our friend Ben and I finally got to the theater to check it out. And I was underwhelmed. The star-studded cast certainly gave it their best shot. Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, and Lenny Kravitz were back in full form. New additions Sam Claflin as Finnick Adair and Patrick St. Esprit as Commander Thread were especially strong. And of course, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson as the love triangle at the center of the story were all excellent.

There were some great touches, like making the so-called “Peacekeepers” (the Capitol’s Nazi-like enforcers) look more like the Storm Troopers in “Star Wars” and giving them codpieces. And making the Avoxes—anyone who had offended the Capitol by trying to defend the rights of the populace, and had been enslaved and silenced by having their tongues cut out as a result—dressed in mummylike costumes that all but obscured their faces. And having President Snow (Donald Sutherland) bleed into his champagne.

But overall, “Catching Fire” struck me as a slick production, nothing like the gritty portrayal of Panem and its manifest inequalities that was the defining feature of the first film. And they chose to omit the pivotal scene of the book, in which the new Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, shows his watch to Katniss—a watch that bears a mockingjay design, a watch that explains the setup of the arena, a watch that tells her he’s an ally. Why on earth they’d omit such a central scene is completely beyond me.

The film had two highlights for me, and both were due to the brilliant talent of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and both involved nothing more than facial expression. The first was when her beloved stylist Cinna was brutally beaten and dragged away by the Peacekeepers before her eyes as she’s heading into the arena, and her face sets into a mask of fury and resolve. And the next was at the end, when Gale (Liam Hemsworth) tells her that her home district, District 12, has been obliterated by President Snow. Until that point, she’d just been a girl looking out for herself and those she cares about. But in that moment you see her, just through her expression, transform into a warrior. Kudos to Ms. Lawrence for an astonishing achievement. But two expressions aren’t enough to carry a film.

I’ll take the first film any day.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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Casting “Catching Fire.” August 23, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As a fan of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, I’ve been watching with great interest as to who would be cast in the key roles of the second movie, “Catching Fire.” Once Philip Seymour Hoffman was cast as Plutarch Heavensbee, that left just two key roles, from my POV: Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason.

Finnick is described as a gorgeous Greek god, with blond hair, sea-green eyes, and bronze skin. He plays a major role not just in Catching Fire but in the final book of the trilogy, Mockingjay. Though he’s an idol in the Capitol, he’s still in his twenties. Who on earth could play him? Unfortunately, the uber-gorgeous Liam Hemsworth has already been cast as Gale.

Well, I have a suggestion. He’s certainly not blond, but as we’ve learned from Orlando Bloom’s performance as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a good prep team can work wonders. So I nominate Jonathan Rhys Meyers of “The Tudors” fame to play Finnick. He’s both sexy and cynical, the perfect combination for Finnick. Lionsgate, are you listening?

Johanna is so fierce, so fearless, yet she’s still willing to give her life for Panem’s emancipation from the chains of the Capitol. She, too, is in her twenties. Who should play her? Who could play her? Jessica Biel would be fantastic in my opinion. Who could stand against her? But Kate Beckinsale, Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightley might be contenders, too. What about Victoria Beckham?

So what do you think? Who would be your Finnick and Johanna? 

                ‘Til next time,

                              Silence