Mar 29, 2012

Into The West... all the way to New Zealand

Nothing makes you want to throw your current life away and spontaneously start working in the film industry like watching the extras on the Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King DVD. I am so moving to New Zealand and becoming a costume designer or a camerawoman or a film extra. Seriously... You get the feeling that your life will never be complete because you weren't there making those films, that you will never experience anything so meaningful and life-altering and profound. Fucking unfair, isn't it? Where was I when those films were made and all that awesomeness experienced? ...Um, in elementary school? Right. Damn it.

These movies are just too brilliant!

P.S. And to think what December will bring along... Oh dear, suddenly I can't wait.

P.P.S. Hmm. Do you think that if I flew to New Zealand right now and asked to be the one who brings coffee to some special effect guy they'd let me and then they'd put my name in the end credits of The Hobbit? Hmh? Worth a try?

P.P.P.S. I think I might like Elijah Wood even more now than I did when I was thirteen. And let me tell you, that is saying something...

P.P.P.P.S. Yes, if I actually went to New Zealand I would probably go Into The East. But you know. I wouldn't mind taking the longer route, not at all.

Mar 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) / three, two, one... fire!

directed by Gary Ross / starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland


FI-FREAKING-NALLY! I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this movie! (...Actually, I can. Since Septemper 2010, when I read the books.) I experienced some random bursts of excitement all day, and kept squeaking and anxiously squirming in my seat during the trailers, and then...! There it was! The world of Hunger Games right before my eyes! Hallelujah! Game on!

I liked the movie! I liked it very, very much. I expected a lot of it, and I didn't have to be disappointed. They did an amazing job with it, I think. As far as recent famous-book-series-turned-into-big-budget-films go, this was almost Lord of the Rings quality. Like all the early reviews have been saying, The Hunger Games is not just another adaption: it works alone as a film, too. I went to see the film with a friend who hadn't read the books (she will, though, after tonight), and she enjoyed it a lot, too. It's not like, for example, with the Harry Potter films, which are mostly just fun extentions for the books.

Now let's see. What did I like... Well, the overall mood of the film was just right. It felt like the same universe that I had imagined when reading the books. Watching the film felt like reading the books did. There was similar excitement and suspense and anticipation and adrenaline. I had some MASSIVE goosebumps (tribute parade, first Cornucopia scene, District 11 and the three finger salute...), I almost cried a couple of times, and once in a while I felt like cheering. Just like when reading the books. Much of the mood was achieved through the superb costumes and the sets. I mean, I just loved the Capitol and the ridiculous outfits and the ultramodern look of everything. And the awesomely interesting contrast that is created when the luxury and bright colors change into the grey, gloomy District 12. That's one reason why this story just needed to be transfered to the big screen.

It felt like the Games part of the book was cut relatively short, and the emphasis was on the the preparation and all that. Which I actually didn't mind! A lot of interesting stuff was missing from the Games, but majority of it happened inside Katniss's head anyway, and it's understandable that they don't want to show Katniss looking for water for two days. Oh, but I can't tell you how much I loved the new points of view; how we got to look at behind the scenes of the Games and witness some intense moments with President Snow. And the little clip from District 11! It was all so fresh and exciting, and it gave a new, fascinating dimension to the story. All the foreshadowing about the rebellion made me very happy.

Now, let's talk about characters and actors! Jennifer Lawrence was pretty much perfect, I have not a criticizing word to say about her. I am eternally grateful that she is Katniss and no one else. I didn't mind Haymitch's hair once I got past the initial shock, because Woody Harrelson was great, as one might expect. I wouldn't watched much more of him, though. Elizabeth Banks was a wonderfully horrible Effie. Two characters that stood out for me, because they had bigger roles in the movie thanks to the new aspects of narrating, were Stanley Tucci's slimy/charming Ceasar Flickerman and Wes Bentley's Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane. Both characters were much more interesting than they were in the books! Loved Ceasar's "red carpet" commentary, and the last scene with Crane, just brilliant and chilling! Cato stood out, too! Great, additional stuff in the end. A nice, "Remember who the enemy is" kind of a moment.

Can I get to the subject of Peeta now? Okay. If you have read any of my THG posts, you know that I'm the biggest Peeta fan. And I have to say that the film Peeta was not quite as lovable the original book Peeta. It was not about Josh Hutcherson or his acting, I think; he did quite a good job. I just think they had made the movie Peeta quite one dimensional and a bit boring. "Hajuton, väritön, mauton", as we say in Finland. He now seemed like a nice enough boy, though a bit simple and a little sissy. He had an innocent crush on a girl and he liked holding hands with her. But something was missing.

It's not good that I had just read the book before I saw the movie. It's never good. I try to steer away from all that annoying nit-picking, about that and that favourite line and scene that was excluded from the movie or wasn't done quite right. But with Peeta it actually bothered me! They had cut all of his jokes! I mean, he is actually a funny, witty guy, with some wonderful and charming self-irony on store. All the suggestive comments he makes in the cave, and "You here to finish me off, sweatheart?", and the jokes about frosting someone to death. He was too solemn.

Also, as they'd kind of played down the romance aspect of the story (Where were all the kisses?? We got about one and a half, if that. Haha. Sorry, but I really wanted kisses...), the final scene with Katniss and Peeta (when it's supposed to be all dramatic and heartbreaking because it wasn't a show for Peeta, and for Katniss it was, but only for the most part, which is why she's all confused now, but anyway she doesn't want to play house anymore) was a bit lame and anticlimactic. In the book the scene is so awesome, with Peeta so clearly hurt, and Katniss can't do anything but feel horrible, and then Peeta once more shows his awesomeness with that "One more time, for the cameras?" comment and Katniss takes his hand and fears for the moment when she'll finally have to let go. Ah! Oh well, maybe that's what they went for, ambiguity about Katniss's true feelings...

The movie Peeta wasn't totally hopeless, just not as lovable as the book Peeta. I'm hoping for some progress in the sequels. And anyway, one can be a mere fraction as lovable as the book Peeta, and still be more lovable than all the other characters put together. That's just how lovable he is. Look at that darling face.

What else did I have to say...? Well, I just went to check out some comments on IMDb. I should stop going there, that place is full of idiots. Haha. If I hear "Battle Royal rip-off" one more time, I swear I'll... be as annoyed as all the other times I hear that. Sigh. I spotted many disappointed comments, but I will not let those bother me, because I was indeed very happy with the film! I liked the shaky camera work, the music, the editing between the arena and the Districts and the Gamemakers' control room... I think there was just enough violence. PG-13 was just fine with me; I mean, I didn't want to see any gore! There was just enough blood and fighting. Kids are killing kids, okay, no need to show all the details. Though I did like what Cato did with that poor guy's neck. Oh SNAP!

Some more random things that I liked:  Fox-Face, especially the intense moment when she and Katniss (literally) bump into each other. Katniss trembling all over before sent up to the arena in the tube. Rue's death scene and how Katniss mourns her afterwards. Seneca Crane's beard (couldn't stop staring at it). The Reaping. Gale and Katniss mouthing to each other during the Reaping. The scene with the apples and the explosion. The trackerjacker hallucinations. Haymitch telling them that they're going to die (though "Stay alive" is better). How the idea about letting both tributes from one District win came from Haymitch. How Peeta cries on the way to the train and Effie keeps babbling about some outrageously shallow stuff, like she always does. Effie's "That's mahogany!". Ceasar's interview with Peeta. Peeta's joke about the bow (Now there's some of that self-deprecating humour I so much love!). When Peeta tells Katniss about the first time he saw her. The first berry scene, Katniss's panic and "Damn you, Peeta!". (Well, looks like Peeta wasn't a total loss for me, after all...)

I probably had more things I wanted to point out, but let that be it for now. I will definitely go see the movie again, and maybe I'll write another post then. I have a feeling that I won't be able to think about anything else but Hunger Games in the next few days...

Next, I'll start looking forward to Catching Fire casting news. Can't wait to get faces for Johanna and Finnick and Coin! Other than that, November 2013 is so freaking far away that I just try not to think about it...

Mar 13, 2012

My TOP 5 favorite Hunger Games characters

It's been two hundred years since I made a top five. Also, with March 23th only ten days away, it's time to start getting the hype up. It'll be epic! I read the trilogy, again, last month (found myself flickering through the first pages of the first book, and there was no turning back after that). And I just found some new stills from the movie, here. And I also just saw the first actual clip of the movie, here. (Another one with Katniss and Cinna, here.)

All of this is making me very, very excited. I said it before and I'll say it again: It'll be EPIC!

So, my list. As pictures I'll use photos of the movie actors, because, why not? The image I have in my head about these characters can't unfortunately be added to this post - and the image is not actually far from what we have here. Except for Haymitch's hair. But with that I can live with, because the hair grows from (or the wig is attached to) Woody Harrelson's head.

Watch out for spoilers!


5. Katniss Everdeen

Katniss is the heroine of The Hunger Games. I have the tendency to strongly dislike the heroines and heros, especially in stories with a large ensemble of characters. Not with Hunger Games! Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of Katniss. Though in a way, I am. What I mean is, I don't always like her as a person, but I adore her as a character. She is flawed, incredibly flawed, and she knows it. She is not a very nice person, and she is not interested in being liked. She can be very cynical and distrustful. The way she often treats Peeta sometimes makes me furious. So, I'm not the biggest fan of Katniss.

But like I said, as a character she's spectacular. And that's just what the young adult world needed after years of reading about its biggest heroine sighing over how divinely handsome her sparkling boyfriend is. Katniss is a fantastic heroine. It's not only that she's tough, independent, smart, brave and righteous; her flaws make her ten times better as a character. And yeah, I do sometimes hate the way she acts towards Peeta, and other people, too, but I also love that she is not all about cute boys and romance; there are much more important things in her life. And in THG trilogy. And as much I love the romance side of the story, I love this following quote of Katniss's even more. Take that, Twilight. 

"I really can't think about kissing when I've got a rebellion to incite."

4. Finnick Odair

Finnick, ah, Finnick! Like with Johanna, we don't have an official face for Finnick yet. (I'm thinking Armie Hammer, though...) But we know that face will be the most handsome face in all of Panem. The face has eyes the color of the sea, and the face is attached to the most divine body you can imagine. I wonder why Finnick is such a big fan favorite?

Haha, seriously now. Finnick is pretty great. He's such a great comic relief at times, such times when comic relief is otherwise really rare. First he seems like the biggest idiot ever, but he evolves into a great, tragic character. How he interracts with Katniss is great and entertaining; first they just go on mocking and teasing and insulting each other, and later they find that deep connection and tie knots together and stuff. And still mock each other. The death of Finnick was perhaps the most shocking death for me (yeah, much more than, say, Prim's, I never really fell in love with her like I was supposed to...), I can't believe Collins just killed him off like that!

"Want a sugar cube?"

3. Johanna Mason

Catching Fire will apparently be out in November 2013, so we still have a long wait ahead of us before we'll see Johanna Mason on action. (I'm already frustrated that we have to wait for so freaking long! But at least they're not just throwing it together as fast as possible.) I'm excited to see who they'll cast as the outspoken, asskicking Johanna. I don't have anyone special in my mind yet, but I don't want her to be too skinny: she needs to have some booty! This is very important to me, because I love that moment in Mockingjay when Johanna bumps her hips against Gale's. Haha. And one needs some booty to do that properly.

Ahem. Other than the booty scene, I like Johanna because she's kind of a bitch. She says and does most outrageous and brutally honest things. She always brings in an extra spice whenever she's involved. She's made me laugh and cry and cheer. She's potantially the most badass character in the whole series. I think. Actually, I should move her up in the list... Shame it's pretty crowded up there. (Well, I just moved her ahead of Finnick. Sorry, man. (Then I wrote that bit about Finnick and wanted to move him back up again... Agh, I shouldn't make these lists...)

"They can’t hurt me. I’m not like the rest of you. There’s no one left I love."

2. Haymitch Abernathy

Haymitch is not a very nice person. And I guess that's why him and Katniss understand each other so well. Certain moments with Katniss and Haymitch can be counted as the most intense pieces of dialogue in the whole series. Like the time Katniss has a drink with Haymitch after the announcement of the Quater Quell, or when they confront each other about Peeta after he's been taken by the Capitol. Katniss and Haymitch keep no secrets from each other, when it comes to things that suck and can't be told to anyone else because it would hurt them. They are a great, even if unexpected team.

The Hunger Games is of course full of tragic life stories, but Haymitch's has to be in the top five, at least. When he is first introduced, you can't imagine feeling sorry for him, ever, but as his backstory begins to unravel, and you realize what a hellish life he's been leading, you'll forgive him for not caring about anyone and being drunk all the time. Haymitch is a perfect combination of comedy and tragedy!

"And that, my friends, is how a revolution dies."

1. Peeta Mellark

All of these people on the list have been either bitches or drunks or both. Well, bitches and drunks, you have just been beaten by the most good-hearted, kind and caring character in history! Peeta is not just likable. He's lovable! I seriously can't understand how someone can NOT like Peeta. Are there such people? It is very dangerous to write a character who is as flawless and morally virtuous as Peeta is: it's annoying for people when someone, even if only fictional, is so much superior to them. But the way Peeta is written can't annoy anyone. Or so goes my theory.

He is so humble, and comfortable in his own skin and with everyone around him, and he is forgiving and genuine and noble and just, and he always says the right thing, and pretty much every positive thing that can be used to describe a person can be used to describe Peeta. He's just so freaking lovable that you want him to jump out of that book so you can marry him! Only of course he wouldn't, because his heart belongs to Katniss. Damn it.

"Isn’t it strange that I know you’d risk your life to save mine, but I don’t know what your favorite color is?"