Oct 15, 2011

The Hunger Games: I'm Starving for It!

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games book series. I was late to the game (hah! puns!), admittedly - several years late. Still, being behind allowed me to read the entire book series all at once over the course of a very emotionally intense three days. It was just me, sitting at
my Nook, completely ignoring the rest of the world and getting fantastically drunk on Vodka-based Limeade and well-crafted fight scenes.

Katniss Everdeen
When the books were being adapted into movies, so much emphasis was put on casting. Jennifer Lawrence, who was very very in Winter’s Bone, was cast as protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) and Liam Hemsworth (Brother of Thor) were cast as Peeta and Gale, the love interests for Katniss throughout the book series. These casting choices were met with a variety of responses from fans, mostly relating to Lawrence and mostly (unfairly) negative. I, however, didn’t really care.

Because when it comes to movie adaptations of children’s movies, it’s often the secondary characters that make or break a film. The bad acting of the three leads in the Harry Potter films are overshadowed by the brilliance of actors like Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Richard Harris. Similarly, A Wrinkle in Time (not a great movie, really) hangs on the strength of Alfre Woodard, not the kids. Main characters in books are written so specifically that a film version is ultimately going to disappoint fans, regardless of quality. The secondary characters, though, especially in children’s books, are a bit looser, and there is much more room for character interpretation.

Versatile, Dependable
That is why I am thrilled by the casting of Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson as Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy.  Elizabeth Banks, though not the first person I had in mind for Effie (I was going in a ‘Secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off'’ direction, for some reason), the more I think about it the more amazing it sounds. Banks has an eclectic resume, filled with comedies and dramas alike. And she’s just as great as the falsely imprisoned wife of Russell Crowe as she is as Michael Showalter’s WASPy and perpetually well-coifed fiancé in The Baxter. She’s got mad range. The character of Effie, while at first fairly straightforward, carries with it a surprising amount of depth, especially as the books progress. Provided they get her look right (the few grainy images of her on set give me hope), this will be great.

Harrelson gives me a bit more pause, but I have learned not to count Woody Harrelson out on anything. I assume the sad-sack Haymitch will have more than a few parallels to Harrelson’s surprisingly deep character in Zombieland (I’m not even half-joking). He is almost always solid - why should this be any different?

So, I’m finally ready to go on the record as excited about this movie.

Whoop! There it is.
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