Thursday, March 15, 2012

What’s Poppin’: The Hunger Games

I would like to thank Gym Class All Stars for giving me an outlet to release my inner “hater” when it comes to all things in the sports world. Fortunately for those around me, I do enjoy certain things in life -- especially topics regarding the entertainment industry in pop culture.
This month I will focus on the much-anticipated movie, The Hunger Games, which is based on the first of three installments of the popular book trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The movie will be released in theaters across the country on Friday, March 23rd.

Still not sure about watching the movie or not? Here are my guidelines...

Why you SHOULD watch:

  • Jennifer Lawrence - She is arguably the “it” girl in Hollywood at the moment. Per the IMDb app on my iPhone (which is one of the best apps around, by the way), she was in three movies a year ago including the science fiction blockbuster, X-Men: First Class. Upon meeting her, Suzanne Collins strongly vouched for the actress, stating that Jennifer Lawrence was the "only one who truly captured the character I wrote in the book." This is a rousing endorsement coming from the author, so I’m expecting a great performance out of Lawrence. Then when you add the fact that she trained with an Olympic medalist in archery for the role of Katniss, it’s evident she took this opportunity with serious conviction. And looking forward to the rest of 2012, she will also be in Devil You Know, House at the End of the Street, and The Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer Lawrence is well on her way to establishing herself as one of the marquee women in the business for years to come. This is our chance to follow an actress as she grows and develops into a bona fide superstar.

  • Be part of history - Let’s break down the sheer numbers. When the trailer was officially introduced last November, there were 8 million views in the first 24 hours. The last Twilight movie, with all of its screaming teenage fans, had a budget of $35 million; The Hunger Games cost the studio close to $100 million to make. On February 22, a solid month before the film even opens, Fandango (the nation's leading online movie ticket seller) announced that The Hunger Games’ first-day ticket sales set a new record. There are estimates for the opening weekend to gross anywhere from $70-$100 million dollars. This is an astronomical figure for the debut installment of a movie series. By comparison, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opened up at $47 million (2001), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at $90 million (2001), Batman Begins at $48 million (2005), and Twilight at $69 million (2008). And currently, the three Hunger Games books take up the top 3 spots on the New York Times Best-sellers List. This is going to be BIG.

  • The production - Suzanne Collins adapted the novel for film herself. She closely worked with the screenwriters and directors to keep the message of the book genuine. The executive director is Gary Ross, who has been nominated for Oscars in writing on multiple occasions in the past. Even the renowned director, Stephen Soderbergh, played a vital role in the creative process serving as the movie’s second-unit director.

  • The studio’s budget - After several months of filming on location, there were over 1,200 CGI shots to complete the movie. Additionally, Lionsgate Films has really taken the concept of marketing a movie to a new level. Capitol Couture, one of the more original initiatives coming out of Hollywood, is a blog dedicated to the fashion in the film focusing on things such as clothing, nail polish, hair-dos, makeup, accessories, etc.

  • Faking it - During Harry Potter’s run, I came across so many fans of the movie franchise that never even picked up the books. At first I was a little upset by this because I felt like only readers were entitled to fully enjoy Hogwarts, Quidditch matches, and butter beer; but these same sentiments do not exist with The Hunger Games. I have an inkling that the movies can be enjoyed equally by both the readers and non-readers.

  • Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland - Overall, the main characters of the story are played by a relatively unknown cast. However, you do have these aforementioned names that many people have heard of or are fans of. There’s a nice dichotomy between new up-and-comers and experienced veterans that have been around the block.

  • Cool for guys too - It’s like when your girlfriend drags you to Victoria’s Secret; when you arrive at the store, there’s only a couple of other guys in there with you. Instantly, there is this quiet connection between the three of you because each guy realizes the extent of the sacrifice taking place. This is usually confirmed by the patented bro head nod. Joining your significant other to watch the Hunger Games falls along the same lines. It’s one of those few unique times when your man card isn’t in question even though the girl-to-guy ratio suggests otherwise.

Why you SHOULD NOT watch:

  • The expectations - I can see the conversation now.
The hardcore fan: “Did you read the book?”
The regular moviegoer: “No. I didn’t get to.”
The hardcore fan: “The books are so much better than the movie.”
The regular moviegoer: “I’m not a big reader.”
The hardcore fan: “They are really easy to read! Do you want to borrow them?”
The regular moviegoer: “No. I don’t like reading.”
This is usually followed by an awkward silence where the two are judging each other for either reading too much or not reading enough. The hardcore fan then spends the remainder of the night regurgitating what he or she remembers from the books and what the movie missed. As a result, the regular moviegoer then feels shafted because not every detail was shown on the big screen. At the end of the day, no matter how good the film is, it will not live up to the expectations of the books -- ironically -- whether you’ve read them or not.
Basically all signs point to watching The Hunger Games unless that absurd conversation is somewhat realistic for you and your friends. If that’s the case, you are probably taking life a little too seriously. My advice is to sit back in your chairs, enjoy some outrageously buttered popcorn, and experience one of the cinematic blockbusters of the year.

For those who have decided to boycott the movie because you argue the concept has already been done in the past, that's like saying you're not watching basketball anymore because you've already seen someone pull off a windmill dunk. This is how the movie industry works -- films will get remade, and story lines will be retold. It's similar to what Jay-Z says when referring to the beef between hip hop artists: "Nothing is going to change. Only thing that changes is the participants."

So now I ask you, what district are you from?

April’s Haterade topic: The Golfers Not Named Tiger Woods

Photos and video courtesy of and

Connect with Albert Nguyen!


legolas & katniss should hook up

I love the casting of Lawrence as Katniss, but I'm a little more iffy about Gale and Peeta. Somehow how these two are in the trailer doesn't match up to what I saw in my mind.

Also, I know everyone hates memes now, but I thought this was hilarious:

I didn't want to watch this movie. Until now.

First male i know that likes Gale... not surprised

Haha thanks for the link Olivia!

I hate hearing "I'm not a big reader."

I've lost a good amount of sleep from staying up to finish these books this past week.

Great writing in the man card section

So, I finally watched it, and...I...didn't like it. I don't know what the director was going for with all of the close-up shots, but the majority of the scenes with people before the Game started were collar bone and up. Why did they have such a huge budget and have all those extras if we weren't even going to see full-body shots of Effie and Katniss? It was frustrating to watch, and with the addition of the shaky camera action, I was sick of the movie before they even got to the Capitol.

And then there was the lack of depth in the relationships. I get that movies made from books never give the full effect of all the complications in relationships, and that's why a lot of the smaller stories are relegated to flashbacks or tossed entirely. Her strained relationship with her mom was barely touched on, and, frankly, I didn't get any sort of tension between her and Gale at all. And even more importantly, in my opinion, was the fact that Haymitch went from a sort-of-drunk asshole to supportive-mentor without any indication of why he's a drunk, why he cleans up his act for Katniss and Peeta, and why he fights so hard for them by the end. COME ON. IT'S EFFING HAYMITCH. He's the reason why they get balms and salves and parachutes! And THEEENNNN. How would anyone know that Katniss is at a struggle with her feelings towards Peeta? That she's not even shure if it's real, but that she knows she needs to do it for the show? And that Peeta is truly, truly, deeply in love with her? Isn't that the main relationship in the book? Ugh, I can't even write anymore, I'm so upset just thinking about it.

I'm gonna go reread Harry Potter now.

The more I think about the movie, the more I realize I didn't really like it. I know it's impossible to wrap all these elements into the big screen, but the character development was absolutely inadequate. And Tina, I wanna go retread Harry Potter now too.

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