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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First picture of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

I haven't spoken about The Hunger Games here on the site yet, and part of that is because I'm still not sure what to make of the project.  I'm familiar with the source material since I read all three books in a week last year, after my girlfriend finished and recommended them.  I know that alot of people dismiss this property as Battle Royale for the tween set, and while I admit there is some truth to that, there is still a craftsmanship to Suzanne Collins' work that makes it extremely engaging as you read through the books.

The reason I am so confused about this property as a movie franchise is I still have no idea what direction it is being taken.  It seems like the studio and every article about these movies makes reference to Twilight, and if Twilight is the goal I have no idea how you stay true to the spirit of the books, especially the last two.  It isn't so much that the stories become "dark", as the Twilight crowd might appreciate, instead they become bleak and morose.  I have to be honest by the end of the series I was kind of surprised how much I disliked every character who survived and how little hope there was left in it's world.  Not what I was expecting from a "tween" set of books at all.

So normally I would dismiss this adaptation out of hand as soon as Twilight is mentioned and it is confirmed they will be aiming for a PG-13 rating.  Not to say I was expecting to see nude 12 year olds running around hacking each other to bits, but it sounded like it would be just another Hollywood cash-in/hackjob.  I would have been perfectly content to leave it there to but then Gary Ross(Sea Biscuit, Pleasantville) was brought it as director and I felt torn.  I respect the hell out of Gary Ross and think he has made a couple of great movies, so there must be some substance that he is able to latch onto as a film-maker right?

Then the casting began and the confusion got even worse.  Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress and if you need convincing look no further than her Oscar nominated turn in Winter's Bone.  Ah but theres the rub, what makes her performance in Winters Bone so brilliant is that you can't see an ounce of innocence left in her.  She is a world weary and cynical character who understands exactly what is going on.  The problem is that is the anti-thesis of who Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games is.  Sure she can hunt and take care of her family but she is too angry to be world weary. To me the tragedy of Katniss is that she is still naive enough to think she can make a difference, nothing about Jennifer Lawrence makes me think she is naive.  And, don't even get me started how next month this 21 year old women will have the whole world staring at her blue cleavage and lusting after her sultry character Mystique(in next months X-Men: First Class) only to turn around and play a virginal wide eyed 15 yr old girl in The Hunger Games.  Maybe it's my hang-up as an audience member to deal with, but as fantastic as Jennifer Lawrence is, her casting just feels wrong to me.

So like I said I'm confused about this project.  I really can't make heads or tails of it.  I don't know if I should be getting excited for this film with a talented cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson(last I heard Kristen Bell was publicly lobbying for a part).  Or, if I should be bracing for a failure of epic proportions.  Either way I know I'm interested.  I have to admit that this first image of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, appearing on next weeks cover of Entertainment Weekly, only piques my interest further.  It looks "cool" but I'm still not sure it looks "right" or even good.  Any way you slice it this is one i will be waiting patiently to see how it turns out.

Let me know what you guys think about this project in the comments below!  Is this a movie worth being excited about or will it just be more tween garbage?

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