There are certain things we want in life, a roof over our heads, a warm place to sleep, food, water– actually those are more things that we need rather than want. So, there are certain things we want in life, but for every one it’s a little different, some people want to live with 80 cats, some people want to marry the boy down the street, and they just happen to be a boy themselves, it’s all about personal choices, preferences, desires, whatever. For me though, for me– I really really want Catching Fire to be The Empire Strikes Back of The Hunger Games franchise. There, I’ve said it– I’ve put The Hunger Games up there with one of the greatest, most beloved, financially successful, debated, and merchandised franchises in the history of film– Star Wars. I own a copy of The Empire Strikes Back, on VHS no less, and I think I might die with it still in my collection. Before you ask, no– I don’t own copies of the new films, they don’t exist in my mind, nor do I own copies of the first or the third film in the original trilogy, I don’t know why I never went out and got copies, but I didn’t, or haven’t, and I’m fine with that for now.
Catching Fire and The Empire Strikes Back? Some people might ask why I want, or envision more like, the second installment in the series to be on a level with something either abhorred by frankly very sad people by my assessment (come on, what’s wrong with you!?), or revered as one of the best sequels ever put on film? Because, both stories share similar elements, and also Catching Fire deserves to be put on film in a manner that puts it above The Hunger Games. I’m not saying Catching Fire has to be bigger and flashier, I’m saying that Catching Fire without a doubt needs to be different from The Hunger Games. The story for me personally is my favorite out of the trilogy, it introduces my second favorite character, Finnick, and a smattering of others who frankly felt more
real and threatening in my mind, than the characters described in the first book. I’m talking about the Victors of course, the long list of old and young people who have been through hell and back, have scars, and know what it means to survive not in a trained-for-it sense, but in an-honest-to-fucking-god-fought-to-the-death kind of survive. These aren’t children anymore, these are veterans, victims who rose above their traumas, and those who did not, and I feel irritatingly strongly that if Mr. Francis Lawrence plays his cards right, he could have some Oscar nominated performances on his hands if he allows the Victors, including Finnick, to be cast with actors who are not matinée idols and/or teen heart throbs, bit players on daytime TV, or fan favorites from lower rung network television shows, or frankly network TV at all in some cases, but people who make livings at being character actors, supporting players, people who split their time between film and theatre, the kind of people you see in films and remember their performances. You know these people, these are the people who you snap your fingers trying to remember their names but you can’t, but you can pin-point that they scared the crap out of you in something, or moved you to tears in another, or both– actors, story tellers, performers, chameleons of their trade. It really really frightens me when I constantly see this Fandom seemingly latching onto the ideas of people working on this film who have up til now made livings at mediocrity, because I believe that this franchise deserves the best, not just who they can get to sign on the dotted line, or whose schedule will work, or who looks like the character was described, the best. The Girl With the Pearl covered some of this not too long ago, and her article really struck me, because I’m clearly feeling the same way she is. This franchise, as much as the media likes to put it up against other teen oriented franchises, is not only for teenagers, and appealing to just that supposed base audience would do a great disservice to the story.
Here’s are a few facts for you, the average Hunger Games fan that I come across are 25 years-old, not 16, not 15– they’re all past high school/ secondary school age, they can vote, drink, have anything they want pierced or tattooed, have sex legally in all of their respective countries, get married, and fight for their countries military. Another fact, the average age of a person who went and saw The Hunger Games opening weekend was 26 years old. For gods sake, I know single fathers in their late twenties who like these books, men in their 30s, men in their 50s, mothers in their 40s, retirees in their 80s and 90s who all like this series. But over and over again, the media, and even the Fandom its self keep pitting the integrity, the quality, and the intelligence of the series into the ground, into 8 pm on a Tuesday night with tampon ads breaking up the story every 9 and half minutes. I don’t know why I’m continually worried about this series becoming a joke, but I do– and maybe it’s because I have such high expectations that I feel haven’t been matched yet. Sadly, meeting that expectation is not up to me, it’s up to the people in charge.
So, Mr. Lawrence, Lionsgate– do not become complacent please, do not let the media allow you to believe that the only people who care about, and will go see this series are still unable to drive without permission from their parents, or buy cigarettes at the corner shops, your audience is wide ranging in age, and diverse– embrace that. Please do not fill out the cast with teen heart throbs, please don’t go over board with the CGI, please re-hire Judianna, please get the best cinematographer you possibly can, please reduce the shaky cam– people seem to have a problem with it. Please don’t water down the story, please allow even the smaller roles the character development they deserve including Mrs. Everdeen and Peeta’s parents. Please back-track and allow more character development for Peeta, show us more clearly that he comes from an abusive home. But above all, please don’t mess this up.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Them There Eyes