Thursday, March 22, 2012
Oh boy The Hunger Games! Children (known as Tributes) from several state run “districts” where poverty is rampant and depression is the norm are picked lottery style to participate in The Hunger Games. The games are a state run reality show held once a year as entertainment for the upper class of the Capitol of Panem (formerly North America).
If you have not heard about this movie or the books you have been living under a rock! This “phenom” is everywhere and will continue to be everywhere. In this piece I will attempt a trifecta: a Movie and Soundtrack review as well as an interview with Liam Hemsworth who plays Gale in the movie (s?). Let me clarify something real quick: this “interview” was actually a group interview that was conducted about 2 weeks ago. This is actually my first big budget movie interview and I guess this is the way thing are done. So there will be a lot of “On portraying Gale, Liam says:” kind of stuff. It wasn’t like Liam and I were sitting at Starbucks shooting the sh#t, although the vibe I got is that he would prefer it. So here we go “interview” first.
Liam Hemsworth is an Australian actor and brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). He has been in some feature films (The Throwback, Knowing) but this is the jump off. After this movie I think Liam will have arrived as a star. Although he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, the story hints at big things to come for his character. On his method of preparing for a roll Liam says “I’m somewhat the type of guy that is present in a role. I’m not in character 24/7. I’m not a lunatic!” In the film Gale and all the characters have to look a bit emaciated “I approached this role trying to get in the physical shape of the character (Gale). I lost a little weight. My character is living in a depression and hunting for food, staying alive and trying to keep his family alive. The biggest thing for me was to get in his head”. In the movie Gale has a bit of a larger role then in the books Liam says “You see a little more. There are more cuts in the film to Gale so you can see what he is doing”. Because of the limited role in the books Liam had to look at the script for inspiration: “I used the books a lot before filming, but I mainly used the script and stayed away from the books while shooting. It was too confusing”. As far as Liam’s career this is his biggest role and his biggest production yet. “Whether it’s big or small I’m looking for characters I can relate to or stories that are interesting. I try and find directors and writers that are trying to do something new. These stories have strong characters that people can care about. In any story you need good characters.” On relating to Gale Liam says “I feel that Gale is an extremely passionate person. He doesn’t want to side with this evil. He doesn’t want to be a part of these games. He is trying to stop it and get away from it. If I were in his position I would be doing much the same thing.” Preparation for any role would be difficult but preparing for a character that lives on the brink of starvation in a post apocalyptic caste society Liam says “It was stripping down and losing a ton of weight. Sweating every day. When shooting started I stopped working out and just ate minimal amounts of food”. On his co-star Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen): “I got along with her from the first read. She is very fun to work with and very professional”. Like I said, Liam has a quick but important role in this movie but he does a good job shining thru. “I’m very proud of this film. It’s the most powerful film I have ever been a part of”.
On to the second part of our Hunger Games extravaganza!! The soundtrack! The album (Hunger Games: Songs From District 12) came out this week on Universal Republic and is a who’s who of bands and artists you should be listening too (according to Pitchfork and Spin anyway). This T-Bone Burnett produced album runs the gamut, from Alt Country (Secret Sisters) to Alty Hip Hop (Kid Cudi) and then some bubble gum (Taylor Swift) the true stand-out tracks on this record are Arcade Fire’s “Abraham’s Daughter” and Kid Cudi’s “The Ruler and The Killer”.
A side note: If you are not listening to Kid Cudi, you should be. If you pass him off as a just another rapper you are doing yourself a disservice. Especially when he is produced by T-Bone Burnett.
This record includes original songs written for the movie. There are some great pairings like Maroon 5 and Rozzi Crane and Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars. Like the movie, there is not a lot of “WEEEEEE! Life Is Great!!!” moments but it conveys the tone of the film nicely! You cannot go wrong with T-Bone Burnett!
I give it 7 Kids-fighting-for-their-lives-in-a-sadist-post-apocalyptic-reality-show out of 10 Kids-fighting-for-their-lives-in-a-sadist-post-apocalyptic-reality-show!
I saw this movie in a packed theater of journalists and a few fans. It was hard to distinguish from the two. When a character came on screen that they loved from the book, they yipped. When an inside reference to the books was made, they laughed. I love seeing movies with people who are fans and who are excited about the film before it even starts!
If you are not familiar with the story (like me), let me give you the non-spoiler details. The movie is set in a distant future were the US has been destroyed and the newly formed Country/Dictatorship called Panem has popped up in its place. The country was divided into 13 “Districts”. The inhabitants who are unlucky enough to live in these districts live in squalor and filth while the Capitol City is a Utopia of technology, wealth and weird beards. The Capitol City inhabitants know nothing but bliss. There was some kind of revolutionary event 74 years prior that was squashed by the new regime shortly after the new government took over. In this revolution District 13 was destroyed. As a way of keeping the citizens of the Districts in line, Panem holds annually televised reality show type “Hunger Games”. Two representatives from each District from the ages of 12-18 are selected via lottery and forced to go to the Capitol and fight the other “Tributes” to the death! The winner is rewarded with wealth, fame and in Woody Harreleson’s characters case, beautiful locks of hair. We join the story as Katniss Everdeen takes the place of her sister in the games. Will Katniss survive?
I went into this movie open –minded but was expecting a Twilight type of franchise jump off film. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Unlike the Twilight films, this story has incredible depth and deals with very relatable characters and issues (poverty, starvation, the quest for fame etc...). The performances by the actors in this film are top notch! Especially Woody Harreleson (Haymitch Abernathy ) and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Lawrence is so incredible with her portrayal of Katniss that you can’t help but feel for and root for her! There are no phoned in performances here! Elizabeth Banks is hardly recognizable in this film! I thought her character was played by Parker Posey for two thirds of the film. Amazing! The sets are amazing! The ships and trains are cool! Nothing in this movie was left to chance it all looks and feels authentic and incredible!
If you like Science Fiction, Romance and Adventure: GO SEE THIS!! You also get your fill of Weird Beards and Stanley Tucci’s bizarre ass hair too!
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