Category Archives: film

To Die would be a Great Adventure

Last week, we said goodbye to one of the funniest men to ever walk the earth. A man who was so quick and energetic and hyper, you had no choice but to pay close attention. A man whose performances and comedy lit up and shaped my childhood. A genius.

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Normally, I don’t care about celebrity deaths all that much. Sure, it was sad when Heath Ledger died and Michael Jackson died, but neither of them truly impacted me in the same way as Robin. I mean, I enjoyed dancing and singing to “Black and White” and “The Man in the Mirror,” and “Will You Be There” from Free Willy may have been belted in the car and end credits for an entire year, but the King of Pop didn’t shape my life. Robin did.

Robin taught me to fly as a kid, and as an adult, the messages in Hook are even more prevalent. Peter Pan has always been, even before Harry Potter, one of the most defining stories of my childhood, and Hook is one of my absolute favorite versions. Robin’s Peter and Dustin Hoffman’s Hook are iconic to me, and I will never not love that movie. I was taught that even though we all have to grow up, even Peter Pan, there’s a way to embrace the magic, as long as we don’t forget it.

My parents divorced when I was six, and I can remember receiving a VHS copy of Mrs. Doubtfire from my Dad’s parents for Christmas sometime around then. I always kind of thought it a bit too nail-on-the-head, as the parents in the film resembled my own parents, and my Mom had custody… but I loved that movie. Sure, it’s cheesy and ridiculous, but I loved it. I laughed and laughed, which is probably the precise reason it was given to me, and to this day I still love it. I mean, what’s NOT to love about Robin Williams dressing up as an elderly Scottish nanny? Especially the scene where the fat suit starts coming off in the restaurant…! Hilarious. Robin taught me that although divorce is a nasty business, it’s okay to laugh.

While Aladdin was never my all-time favorite Disney movie, the Genie was my favorite sidekick. How awesome is he!? I gotta tell you, Disney’s tribute to Robin, along with the Academy’s, who also referenced the great Genie, moved me to tears. I can’t even think about it now without getting choked up.

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And finally, Dead Poet’s Society. I watched this movie as a kid at my Dad’s house (I always suspected my Dad wanted to sort of be Robin Williams, maybe with a mix of Jerry Garcia and Gandalf) and every time, found myself crying. And not just because of the death at the end, but because of the respect the students had for Mr. Keating. I won’t say this movie influenced my decision to become an English teacher, for there were a great many factors, but AS an English teacher, I want nothing more than to be Mr. Keating.

While there were many other great, great films and roles had by Robin: Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, One Hour Photo (which haunted me for a while), Jumanji, etc… these four were the ones that impacted me the most, the ones that I will never be able to watch again without a tear glistening in my eye as I shout BANGARANG!

Robin’s humor was one that often presented itself in dark places, helping us cope with our own demons with a little laughter. It is a shame that his own darkness consumed him, and it is something to remember when confronting life. Everyone needs laughter, even the Jester, so fill your days with smiles and incite the laughter in others.

O Captain, My Captain.

You will be missed.

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Catching Web

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If you take a look at the superheroes gracing the silver screen as of late, there’s quite a variety. Batman recently left our graces after a trilogy of darkness. Iron Man, however, is fun and flirty, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.. Superman is sexy but boring; I’ve always though he had too many powers. Captain America is your all-American science experiment, and Thor is a hulky alien. The X-Men are a ragtag bunch of mutants. Then there’s Spider Man, a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider who is a combination of the best parts of other superheroes.

The Amazing Spider Man 2 swung into theaters May 2, 2014 after a two year break from the first installment. The Amazing series is already a reboot of Sam Raimi’s 2000s Spider-Man series starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, which did well in the box office, but Maguire’s Spidey was too nice, too clean cut, too boring; and Dunst is awkward to watch on screen. The reboot was a good choice, as it took Maguire’s lackluster Spidey into the witty teenager he’s supposed to be, and made me a fan of the superhero.

The sequel picks up righto-ANDREW-GARFIELD-THE-AMAZING-SPIDER-MAN-2-facebook where the first one left off, with Andrew Garfield’s sleeker-suited web-slinging superhero flying through the streets of New York City, choosing to fight crime rather than attend his high school graduation. The sequence is fun and energetic to watch, and the flying scenes are a cinematic feat, as they make the viewer feel as if he, too, is flying and swooshing through the city.

The villains are typical Spider Man villains – scientifically mutated with the help of Oscorp resources, hoping for recognition or a way to save their own lives. Jamie Foxx plays Max, the shy Oscorp employee who just wants to be remembered and noticed, who then suffers a mishap and becomes the villain Electro. Dane DeHaan takes over James Franco’s role in the 2000s series as Harry Osborn, who eventually becomes the Green Goblin. While the ending featured a series of Spider Man – villain fights that became redundant and predictable, the development of the villains from nice guy to evil was the saving point. While they were villains, there were times you wanted to root for them, and were happy to see them succeed. Other times, however…

ChemistryThen there was the highpoint of the film, at least for me: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, played by real-life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. I’ve always been a fan of Stone, and Garfield has proven himself as a strong actor, particularly in The Social Network, where he played opposite narcissist Jesse Eisenberg, and actually made the film bearable to watch. The chemistry between the two is a nuanced and beautiful thing to watch, in particular a tete-a-tete scene which has Garfield tweaking Stone’s nose and Stone commenting on Garfield’s doe eyes. They make the relationship believable (well, duh!), and you can feel the emotions rolling off them.

Garfield’s portrayal of the iconic New York superhero is fun and light, and fits with the quirky, witty, teenager aspect of the character. He’s a superhero, but he’s having fun with it. He isn’t sullen, and even his moody scenes whilst discovering the mystery surrounding his father are interesting to watch. His rapport with the great Sally Field, who plays Aunt May, is realistic and enjoyable to watch as well.

Stone’s Gwen Stacy is a change from the normal superhero female of desire. She is strong, independent, and smart. While Peter, as Spider Man, is fighting villains in New York, she is giving the valedictorian speech at her high school graduation. When Peter tells her to get away from the danger, she refuses and instead chooses to fight alongside him, consequences be damned. She makes her own decisions regardless of the people in her life, and she’s absolutely adorable while doing so.

tasm2-11For a summer action superhero film, The Amazing Spider Man 2 is a fun choice, with plenty of action, humor, and mystery to get lost into. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, giving it an 8/10 on my “Entertainment Rating Scale” rather than my “Film Snob Rating Scale,” which would probably be closer to a 4. Boyfriend gave it a 9.

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4 pretentious stars
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8 fun stars

 

 

Films vs Movies

As a former film major and employee in the film industry, I now find it hard to rate films.

Whenever I see a movie in theaters, I tend to think more highly of it than if I’d just seen it on my TV at home – there are more distractions available, particularly if I’m bored, whereas at the theater I tend to get a bit more engrossed in the film. This means my ratings are generally a lot nicer than they would be if my first watching wasn’t in the dark with a giant screen and the smells of popcorn wafting through the air.

I also have a hard time rating films because sometimes, even if the film is rubbish and the plot is rushed and the story sucks, I absolutely love it. Usually, this is because of the characters – I’m a sucker for characters and character development, which is one of the reasons I love Harry Potter so much. Sometimes I just want to go to a movie and be entertained.

Other times, I have a hard time turning off the film student analytical skills, particularly if the film is boring. I spent three years learning all the ins and outs of how to make a film and how to analyze a film to figure out why the director chose that shot and that editing sequence and actor, so sometimes it can be hard to turn it off. Hence the dark theaters, but even then…

What I’m trying to say is, I don’t necessarily care how “film pretentious” it is anymore; I just want to watch a movie and be entertained. I don’t care if the film will win lots of awards, because half of those movies are so boring I can’t go through the entire thing without refreshing my Instagram feed a dozen times. I’m not saying Nebraska wasn’t a good film, I’m just saying I wouldn’t choose it to watch for fun.

This is how film school went for me most of the time as well. We watched Citizen Kane in more than one film class, and while I understand its prominence and artistic strengths as a film, I don’t really enjoy it as a movie. I’m not going to suggest to Boyfriend one Friday night, “Hey, let’s watch Citizen Kane!” For one, it’s rather boring (shocker!!!), and Boyfriend will undoubtedly fall asleep – he’s an action movie kind of guy, after all, and not a pretentious film watcher.

While I still enjoy “films” – I’m predictable when I say I love Wes Anderson – sometimes movies are all I’m looking for.

From now on, when I review a film, I’m going to include two ratings, that of the “pretentious film snob,” and that of the “fun entertainment,” using none other than cats.

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Pretentious Film Snob Rating Cat
Fun Entertainment Rating Cat
Fun Entertainment Rating Cat

Just Kidding, J.K.

Romeo and Juliet. Bella and Edward. Katniss and Peeta. Ron and Hermione. All of these epitomize true love and are the kinds of relationships readers fall in love with. In the case of Ron and Hermione, author J.K. Rowling spent seven books developing the relationship from friends to lovers.
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When a book is published, the story and facts established are then known as canon, or an absolute truth. In early February, Rowling upset many fans with her anti-canonical comments in an interview with Hermione actress Emma Watson.

She claims she “wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” and that “for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” She goes on to say the couple would have needed marriage counseling and that “in some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit.”

The young witch and wizard started on less-than-stellar terms, as Hermione was an “insufferable know it all,” and Ron an insecure sidekick to the famous Harry Potter, but they eventually became friends and the trio of Ron, Harry, and Hermione was born. In book four, The Goblet of Fire, Hermione was asked to the Yule Ball by Viktor Krum, an act that ensnares Ron with jealousy and ruins Hermione’s night. In the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix, Ron and Hermione’s friendship blossoms without Harry. Finally, in The Deathly Hallows, a year spent on the run from Voldemort and his cronies, was full of the most tension between the two, with Ron even leaving his friends for a time, leaving the opportunity for Harry and Hermione to come together. But they didn’t. Ron returned, and in the midst of saving the wizarding world, Ron and Hermione finally came together as a couple. As it should be.

hermione-harry-j.k.-rowling-interviewFor an author who claims she was mistaken, the evidence for the “wish fulfilled” relationship is strong. Harry and Hermione have always been friends, and nothing more. Screenwriter for the Harry Potter movie series, Steve Kloves, constantly undermined Ron’s importance and focused on the other two of the trio.

Ron is the sixth of seven children. He has grown up with hand-me-downs and a life of trying to outshine his successful older siblings. His best friend is the most famous wizard of their generation. For once, Ron would like to stand out from the shadows. For him, that means winning Hermione, the girl whose heart guides him to happiness and away from poor decisions.

If an author writes something, has it published, and legions of fans adoring it, that something becomes part of canon. Despite the author’s feelings afterward, the canon has been established, and fans accept it as that. To announce seven years after the final book was published that she changed her mind is ludicrous, and fans are upset.

Perhaps Rowling’s backtracking hesitancy was brought on by similar relationships and realizations in her own life, but who’s to say Ron and Hermione would suffer the same fate as the muggles influencing them?

Despite her reasons, Rowling should learn to keep her opinions to herself. If she wants Harry and Hermione to end up together, she should join the fan fiction writers and write her new ending anonymously.

Ron and Hermione forever.

 

 

***originally published in the April 11 edition of The Southerner.

Let it Go, Leo

The Oscars. The epitome of the years’ filmmaking exploits, culminating in an extravagant ceremony which all other awards shows idolize. Actors and filmmakers alike strive to add the coveted golden statue to their mantel, yet there is one actor whose lack of a statue has elicited a strong response from fans, year after year.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for five Oscars, three for Best Actor, one for Best Supporting Actor, and one, as a producer, for Best Picture. In contrast, he’s been nominated for nine Golden Globes for acting, with two wins. Many people believe it’s past time for him to take home an Oscar.

This year, DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street, and the internet exploded with support. When it came down to the award, however, DiCaprio lost to Matthew McConaughey for his riveting performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

The Academy’s decision was the right one. McConaughey lost 47 pounds for his role as the HIV-afflicted Texas electrician, and transported himself into the role. Along with Jared Leto, who beat out Wolf’s Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a transgender HIV victim, the acting in Dallas Buyers Club far surpassed that of The Wolf of Wall Street.LeOscar

The Best Acting awards are ones that are usually given to actors who lost themselves so greatly into their role that they become almost unrecognizable. Last year’s Best Actor winner was Daniel Day Lewis for his iconic portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. The year before was silent film The Artist’s Jean Dujardin; and who can forget 2008’s Best Supporting Actor winner Heath Ledger, who poured himself so deeply into his role as the Joker he eventually suffered his life.

When looking back on DiCaprio’s performances and roles, few of them stand out enough to deserve the legacy of being named Best Actor, especially when compared with the competition. 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, his first nomination, was perhaps his best chance at winning, as he took a risk in the role of Arnie Grape, a mentally handicapped teenager, but when pitted with Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive (which won), or Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List, his performance was not strong enough.

It has been seven years since DiCaprio’s last nomination, despite having starred in noteworthy films almost every year, so the hype built up around DiCaprio is irrelevant. Why should this performance be the one to garner him the win, when he hasn’t even been nominated in recent years? His loss was not like Peter O’Toole’s, who lost eight times and starred in some of the greatest films of all time.

DiCaprio is not the only popular actor who has never received an Oscar, despite a huge fan base. Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Ian McKellen, Gary Oldman, and John Travolta are just a few of the legions of others who have never won an Oscar.

Simply put, DiCaprio’s performances, while high quality, are simply too cool. In Wolf of Wall Street, he dressed up in nice suits, yelled into a microphone while beating his chest, and threw money at people. In Blood Diamond, he smuggled diamonds with a Zimbabwean accent. In Django Unchained, he portrayed a cruel plantation owner with a southern accent. Not in any of these performances, however, did he let the audience feel what it would be like to be that character; there’s always a mask blocking the emotion from ever truly reaching the audience.

The films Leo has chosen to make post-Titanic have been hyper-masculine roles used to draw attention away from his teen romantic lead past. The last film he took a risk on was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Many of his characters run together; there’s even a theory about how all of his characters exist in the same universe. Take the same character and put them in a different situation and setting, and there’s virtually no difference. Part of the problem is his choice of director/mentor Martin Scorsese, who fails to bring out the best in DiCaprio and instead just fuels his ego.

DiCaprio may win an Oscar in his career eventually, if he pulls the mask away and invites the viewer in. Another option may be what happened to Scorsese; after years and years of not winning, the Academy will finally break down and give DiCaprio the Oscar, even if the film isn’t his most deserving.

Sorry Leo. Maybe next year.

 

*originally published in the March 3, 2014 edition of The Southerner*

“Since the last Games, something’s different. I can see it.”

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Anyone who has known me over the fast few years has undoubtedly noticed my affection for The Hunger Games series. I read the books the first time over a weekend; I just couldn’t stop reading. It reminded me of the days when I first read Harry Potter (the greatest love of my life, along with Hanson), where I would marathon read, my neck cramping and eyes blurry because I can’t stop without knowing what happens. The Hunger Games hooked me.

I fell in love with Katniss, the strong female lead who is a good role model for young girls (especially in the wake of “if you leave me, I’ll die” Bella Swan), and the supporting characters were all believable and interesting. And the premise. Ooo. I do love me a good dystopia (and thanks to the success of THG, teen dystopias became all the rage, which means I have that many more to read… even though most are super weak in comparison, though I did love super-flawed Divergent and Matched).  Not to mention, I was already a fan of Japan’s Battle Royale, which is basically the same premise but heavier on the gore. Are there flaws in THG? Absolutely. Do I care? No.

When I taught the first book the first time (yay for being an English teacher), I became completely wrapped up in it. Every time I teach it (it’s been 3 times now), it basically becomes my life. When my students need to find vocab words, it doesn’t take me long to find it, I’ve read the book so many times.

Then the movie came out, which was… meh. You can read my full review here, but basically, though I loved it and LOVE Jennifer Lawrence (I basically want to be her), I was disappointed with many of the details.

Then came Catching Fire. Oh My God. I LOVED this film. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read the second book in the series as many times, so I didn’t notice the details they failed to include, but I thought the transition from page to screen worked so well. Not only is the eye candy amazing – between Josh Hutchenson, Liam Hemsworth, and Sam Claflin, plus JLaw for my girl crush – I was good; but there’s so much more than that. The film was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I went from tearing up at the scene in District 11 to angry at the Capitol, to laughing at Haymitch and Effie, to suspense in the arena, to tears at Mags, to suspense at the monkeys… you get the picture.

Having read the book, I already knew the plot twists and secrets, but that didn’t make it any less enjoying. In fact, I had a lot of fun with Boy next to me; angry at characters I knew to be good and worried about characters I knew would die. His review, by the way, was a 10/10 (it’s worth noting our first movie we ever saw together in theaters was the first installment).

Everything translated so well. I loved Finnick, played by Sam Claflin, and Jena Malone’s Johanna was perfect (I do have a soft spot for the crazy bitches though… Clove was one of my favorites in the first book). I liked being able to see Betee’s wiring project and the Arena itself, which matched the descriptions pretty well. It was also interesting to see the Capitol’s side of things, a continuing element from the first movie that helps with suspense and red herons. I also felt the portrayal of the animosity of the tributes toward the Capitol, and the unfairness of it all was spot-on. The interview scene was done very well. I almost felt sorry for Caesar Flickerman.

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And, oh, the costumes. I wish I could dress like Katniss. She has so many good looks in Catching Fire; from the tour outfits that are comfortable yet flattering, to the gorgeous wedding dress-turned-mockingjay. I also thought the “girl on fire” look was ten times better than it was in the first movie, where it looked obviously fake; here the smoldering coal look was more believable and entrancing.

o-CATCHING-FIRE-PHOTOS-570Then there was the love triangle. This is how I feel about the whole Katniss – Peeta – Gale drama: if Katniss had never gone into the Hunger Games, she and Gale would’ve been meant to be, but because she endured the Games with Peeta, a connection forged between them that could never be broken. Sure, Gale is strong and handsome and good for her, but he brings out the dark side of Katniss. Peeta, on the other hand, is calm and peaceful, traits Katniss needs to balance her out. Gale will never understand the Games the same way Peeta does, and so he will never understand the bond between Katniss and Peeta. Katniss fights it because she wants a choice, and she feels the Games and the Capitol concocted her relationship with Peeta, even though her feelings are true. It isn’t until the scene on the beach that you see Katniss’ true feelings for Peeta come out, and it’s lovely to watch. Not to mention, Josh beefed up between films, so it’s not even an easy “Gale’s hotter” decision anymore. But oh, there was so much more kissing. Thank catchingfirestill3 goodness.

When I watch movies or read books that really grab me, I know I love them because of how they affect me emotionally. If I spend the next few days replaying them in my head, empathizing with the characters and wishing I were in the world, I know it was done well. Catching Fire was no exception here. I couldn’t help but feel the same trapped feeling as Katniss, the surrealness of being back in the Arena, but this time knowing there’s no escape. As she watches Cinna’s beating and is lifted into the Arena, a feeling of “Oh, God, it’s really happening and I’m not ready for this” washed over me. When she conspired with Peeta about leaving the alliance, knowing there’s no way out of the Arena but death, I felt it. Call me crazy, but I did. And that is a mark of something good.

Though the third book is my least favorite in the trilogy, I’m excited for the two-part installment (thanks, Harry Potter, for that trend… while you may have needed the six hours to tell the final book, now every film adaptation feels it needs multiple movies as well, when all it really wants is more money…  I’m looking at you Twilight and The Hobbit).  I can’t wait to see the end play out, and more Haymitch on screen is always a bonus.

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Best Job Ever.

As usual, I spent the summer of 2013 (just like the summers of 10, 11, and 12) with iD Tech Camps, this time at Towson University, in Maryland. In addition to the awesome dress-up days and theme weeks (this year we had Hawaiian, Disney, America, Cartoon, Hipster, and of course Harry Potter), we had 27 international females (females? at a tech camp?!?) from all over the Middle East and North Africa, who came over with a program called TechGirls. I was even mentioned in their blog! AND I was Director. Management.

And Management means Spirit Hoods.

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Embrace the power of the snow leopard.

As director, I got to utilize my teaching skills along with learning how to better and effectively manage, something that has definitely come in handy this year teaching journalism. It was great getting to help the new instructors fine tune their teaching abilities and really come into their own as instructors. PLUS, I got the benefit of getting to play the campers’ games and joke around with them, without having to actually teach, which I get burned out doing after 9 months straight.

AND, another one of my responsibilities was camp photography. Which basically meant I got to walk around all day with a camera, then play in Lightroom. We even inspired a photo contest on the iD Staff facebook page, and won it twice. And then I made trading cards in Photoshop.

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Seriously. I’m an awesome boss 🙂

Now, it wouldn’t be camp without a camp video… so naturally I made one of those too. Not only did it make it to the facebook page, but it also went up as one of FOUR on the iD Tech official videos page. One of FOUR. There were at least 10 made this year. Booyah. (so you know, it’s the “Can’t Hold Us” video, and the spirit hoods make an occurrence).

Best Job Ever. Apply here. You won’t regret it.

 

Camp is for Nerds! (Good Thing I Am One!)

Rather than write a summary of this past summer’s camp season at iD Tech @ University of Miami, I figured I’d just show you the best parts…

I had lightsaber battles
I danced the Time Warp (and many, many other dances)
I auditioned for The Walking Dead (okay, not really, but how cool would that have been!?)
I became the Dark Knight
…and of course The Smartest Witch of Her Age
I took pretty pictures of campus
…and lots and lots of animals
I DIDN’T get eaten by a crocodile, because I heeded this sign
I was pied for my sixth time
I was turned into a Rainbow Unicorn Centaur
And was a member of a boyband, No Direction (find our video on my Videos Page!)

And of course there were typical camp activities going on… videos made, games played (and made), lots and lots of coffee, campers taught, LOTS of dance parties (including solo ones to “Taking the Hobbits to Isengard“), and always, a ton of fun. Here’s to next summer!

100 Things That Make Me Happy

One of the many (101 to be exact) items on my 101/1001 list is to make a 100 Things That Make Me Happy list. I discovered recently that I’d started this list some time ago, but only got to the 60’s before I gave up. Upon re-reading of this original list, I decided not only would I finish it, but I would revamp it as well, adding new things and taking away the ones that didn’t seem relevant anymore (like “when a boy calls you for no reason”).

See the complete list after the jump:

Continue reading 100 Things That Make Me Happy

How The Hunger Games Disappointed, Excited, and Scared Me All at Once

For the past two months or so, I’ve been living and breathing The Hunger Games in my 10th grade English class. I’ve read it multiple times, discussed it, dissected it, decorated the walls with it, analyzed it, etc. I’ve read so many essays on Haymitch, the similarities and differences of Gale and Peeta, and the effect of the star-crossed lovers scenario on Katniss and the outcome of the Games.

So did I go to the midnight release of the movie adaptation? No.

I’d planned on it, even tried to buy tickets on numerous occasions. Each time, however, the stupid Internet kept failing and not processing the request. Then I realized I had a soccer game that night, and by the time I got home and showered (games make me feel nasty), there’s no way I’d make it or even be awake enough to enjoy it.

We went Saturday instead. SPOILERS BELOW

It was okay. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad, either. There were parts that I really enjoyed:
* The Tracker Jackers
* Seneca Crane’s beard
* The casting decisions (Jennifer Lawrence did a great job)
* The not-too-bloody,not-too-boring deaths (as much as I’d love an R rating with gory killings, PG-13 works for the story and the audience)
* The District 11 Riot
* Cato and Clove
* Getting to see Peeta’s interview
* Caesar Flickerman and his commentary
* Effie Trinket
* The music
* Seneca’s implied berry-suicide death

…and things I didn’t like:
* The Cornucopia – it looked like an ugly plane crashed in the middle of the field… where’s my Thanksgiving symbol of harvest and gratitude?
* The missing Thunderstorm/3 Days in a Cave
* Peeta didn’t seem too worse for the wear when Katniss found him in the stream… I thought he was supposed to be walking Death’s balance beam?
* The downplay of the romance – I get that they don’t want to make it Twilight where people actually die, but come on, I need more than one Katniss/Peeta kiss, especially when that kiss is interrupted by a morose Gale watching it on TV.
* The wolves.
* The Games seemed rushed. Katniss even made a comment about how the Gamemakers were trying to hurry up and end the Games, which is how I felt about the filmmakers.
* Did I miss the field where Thresh dwells? I didn’t see it in the Arena
* Peeta didn’t lose a leg
* Katniss and Peeta didn’t actually “eat” the berries. There’s no way the Capitol would have stopped them that soon.
* As much as I liked the cutaways to Seneca/President Snow/Haymitch, they took away from Katniss’s story and her survival, and made it more about the Reality TV aspect. While I get this also shows the negativity of the Capitol and their all-controlling totalitarianism, it gives away much of the conflict of the following books.
* The “Girl on Fire” parade outfits – the fire seemed really fake
* Rue and Marvel’s deaths – I imagined that net to be hanging from the air, not on the ground… and Katniss is a better shot than hitting him in the chest – she got him in the neck in the book.
* Katniss wasn’t on camera for Peeta’s confession, and the filmmakers made the whole thing seem a lot more contrived than in the book.
* Some of the deaths were skipped over or changed… Thresh doesn’t die by the wolves!
* Haymitch didn’t fall off the stage!

So yea, I may be a bit of a nitpicker… many of these are minor changes that were done to either enhance the story, tell it faster, or because they work better in a film medium, and I totally get it. The whole thing seemed really low budget, which is surprising considering the popularity of the series, but at the same time, Hollywood’s recent performance means playing it safe, budget-wise is sometimes the better option. Not every book-to-movie or tv show-to-movie adaptation does well, after all (Golden Compass and The Last Airbender, anyone?). Maybe this one will succeed well enough to up the budget for the next two movies, though.

I did enjoy the movie, don’t get me wrong. I almost cried during Rue’s farewell, and I jumped a bit when the wolf leaped out from behind the trees. I will buy the special edition bluray version when it comes out, and show it to all my students at the culmination of the Unit each year.

The boy also enjoyed it, or so he claims. I heard him curse when Rue died, he thought the Tracker Jackers were cool, and he argued with me over why Gale is better than Peeta. Apparently, Gale has a more “sculpted” look, whereas Peeta is just “cute,” therefore, Gale is more attractive. When I told him that he is a good mixture of the two, he almost got offended. Looks-wise, he’s more like Gale: tall, strong, “sculpted,” dark hair… but he also has the Peeta curls and the strong arms (he disagreed and said Peeta’s arms weren’t strong). Maybe I should have said he looks like Gale, but has the emotions of Peeta…

I finally had to stop his arguing and tell him “I’m trying to tell you that I’d rather have you than either of them, so just shut up and stop arguing.”

It worked. And the scary part is that it’s true. Scary because I’ve never felt that way about a boy before… happier with the person sitting next to me, fingers intertwined, than the eye candy gracing and romancing the fickle/love-struck/naïve/idiotic/etc girls on screen. I caught myself glancing at him during the movie and realizing that he’s more attractive than Peeta and Gale, and sitting next to me. On purpose.

May the odds be ever in my favor.