The Hunger Games movie

The Effie Effect

Discount movie night is kind of a big deal when you’re broke. Round here it’s on Tuesday, and this Tuesday’s film of choice was Movie 43, an outrageous collection of hardcore comedy shorts that’s not for everyone. Among the 43 big name actors in the film was our Effie, Elizabeth Banks.

INSERT CARTOON CAT

And this is the relatively sane part!

Elizabeth’s short, Beezel, was both ridiculous and raunchy, bringing out her unflappably entertaining side as she mostly interacted with a despicable cartoon cat. Think of it what you will, but this short– much like her appearances in films like Zack and Miri Make A Porno and The 40 Year Old Virgin— prove that Elizabeth Banks can act her way through ANYTHING.

There’s been talk of bringing out more background personality traits for Haymitch, but we’re hoping that discussion has also happened for his reluctant companion, Effie Trinket. Yes, Effie was portrayed beautifully in the first film. She was blissfully unaware of her privilege and spotted each scene in which she was featured with comic relief.

There was only one problem: We didn’t sorta kinda hate her, which is a conflict of interest everyone we know suffered with in the books. The conflict with which you’re supposed to suffer. Effie may be a good person underneath it all, but she’s been so corrupted by a life of frivolous luxury that she doesn’t even question what she does, and for those reasons, readers don’t always love her unconditionally. In the movie, that comes out a lot less.

We don’t blame Elizabeth’s performance for this at all. Oddly enough, there’s not one person who you can look at specifically and blame for Movie!Effie not disgusting us with her Capitol citizen style greed as much as we had hoped. The character was bubbly and aloof, she looked so fantastical and had such snappy one-liners that it was hard to remember that behind all those smiles, she was proudly escorting children to their deaths on a year-to-year basis.

The Hunger Games is to Mean Girls as Effie Trinket is to Regina George

The Hunger Games is to Mean Girls as Effie Trinket is to Regina George

Catching Fire brings us more time with a much more conflicted Effie, so we want Elizabeth Banks to be given the chance to shine Effie through in all of her glory: the obnoxious Capitol groupie turned emotional escort starting to question everything she’s ever known. Again, Elizabeth can act out anything. Why not let her?! We certainly don’t mind the laughs, but we hope Effie can be bigger and bolder. Just look at those outfits! You’re telling me that the woman behind them doesn’t have an astronomical rollercoaster of a personality?

We’re not looking for a caricature, of course. A character like Effie could get very out of hand, very quickly and nobody wants that. Just a pinch of punch to remind us what Effie stands for in the series!

There’s A Lot of Thoughts Going On Under That Poofy Pink Hair,
The Girl With The Pearl

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The Power of Buttercup

We discussed that awesome joy that comes from hooking people on The Hunger Games series many a time before! Besides validating your own addiction, the more people you get to talk about the series with, the better! But the best is when someone new to the series gets you going on topic you never really thought about before.

But we'll still take it!

But we’ll still take it!

Hence this conversation with a friend, in a bar of all places:
Them: “I love the books now, but I’m so disappointed that the cat wasn’t really in the movie!”
Me: “Buttercup? Yeah, he’s awesome but they tend to cut everything that isn’t totally necessary.”
Them: “He IS necessary! He reflects all her emotional stuff. Without a voiceover, we NEED him!”

Then the conversation was interrupted by the hypothetical zombie apocalypse (BE PREPARED! …Not really), but it left me thinking.

While I’m not as stuck on a sheer need for Buttercup in the movies like my friend, what they were saying makes sense. When Katniss is jaded and hardened in the beginning of the series, the only character that matches her intensity and takes her head on. Like Katniss, he is forced to go to District 13, disgruntled and disobedient, but he puts up with it to be with Prim. As Katniss drives herself mad thinking about Peeta in the fallout shelter, she takes Buttercup right along with her. And finally, when she is devastated and needs someone dearly at the end of the series, so does Buttercup.

When Buttercup was a mere flash in The Hunger Games, many people noticed. Like us, it seemed many were mourning that LAST scene. But it’s all the little scenes in between are what make that last one work.

Let’s all take a moment to recognize the power of Buttercup. Because no matter how slurred the words may have been in that conversation, it was right on. That little cat is Katniss Everdeen’s spirit animal.

If Francis Lawrence thought at all about how to keep the series relevant and touching, we’re hoping he chooses to stick Buttercup’s simple but powerful story back into the mix. It would take a minute or two per movie, but Panem’s most badass cat would break the collective heart of the entire world.

And I Consider Myself A Dog Person,
The Girl With The Pearl

It’s Okay To Wonder

Earlier this week, Gary Ross said in an interview that it would have taken him at least eight months to properly prep and film Catching Fire. At the same time, Fox announced that it did not have a finished script for X-Men: Days of Future Past (the title apparently refers to a time jumping subplot of the comics. Thanks, floralsandstripes!) and thus will delay filming until April. If Fox had realized that they weren’t adequately prepared earlier, Gary would have gotten his eight months.

Gary Ross Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind Hunger Games director

Over us so soon?

OH, THE POSSIBILITIES!

A whole world of shoulda, coulda, woulda just opened up beneath our feet! Don’t feel guilty for wondering! We ALL wonder, even those of us who are cautiously optimistic about Francis Lawrence.

But then I remember my fiance’s response to The Hunger Games movie…
Me: OMG I AM BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS BECAUSE THERE IS A HUNGER GAMES MOVIE AND I HAVE SEEN IT! DIDN’T YOU LOVE IT?!
Him: Yeah, it was pretty good.
Me: Pretty good?! PRETTY GOOD?! Don’t you mean spectacular?
Him: I’m not saying it was bad. It was good! I just feel like something was missing.
(Quick Note: My fiance is not the movie critic type. He doesn’t hate on much of anything.)

The non-THG fanatics in my life had similar positive-but-still-pretty-neutral reactions. We can see it, even though that will never stop us from watching the movie repeatedly.

At the time, we weren’t really aware of Gary Ross’ process, as described by the man himself in this quote:
“I wear two hats. I don’t wear one hat. When you write and you direct that’s a linear process, it’s not a simultaneous process. I would’ve had to have written a script and prepped the whole movie in four months and on the first movie that’s a process that took me eight months. And I thought [Catching Fire] was a more difficult adaptation, not an easier one. I didn’t really feel I had the time I needed to live up to my own standards. And I haven’t had a moment’s regret.”

Before you get all hasty: COOL IT, HOMIES! YOU’RE MAKIN’ A SCENE! This is not a Gary Ross hate post! We’ve noticed that it’s kind of hip to hate on Gary Ross now that he’s left the franchise, but that ain’t happening here. Gary Ross was always be Boss for kickstarting this fandom right, but maybe this quote proves that a change in the reins isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Francis Lawrence experience director collaboration The Hunger Games Lady Gaga Water for Elephants

F-Law: Used to collaborating with some interesting characters…

The script for Catching Fire was the work of two Oscar winners, Simon Beaufoy and (allegedly!) Michael Ardnt, which probably wouldn’t have happened with Gary Ross at the helm. He writes the final version of all his film scripts. He’s a talented writer, but other talented writers may have been cut out of the picture. Gary had a very heavy hand in everything, including deciding every camera angle before shooting ever began and designing sets based on his specific vision. He describes his “neurotic” involvement in the DVD extras. Again, these aren’t bad things, but there’s valuable input from others being cast aside in what seems to be the “If you want something done right, do it yourself” approach.

We agree with what Hunger Games Fireside Chat discussed about three weeks ago: The more co-operative approach that Francis Lawrence is taking could yield interesting results. There’s more risk! It could blow up in his face. The costume designer or set guy or lighting supervisor could suck and an angry mob of fans will storm the Lionsgate office in an attempt to be the Mockingjay and lead a rebellion against Francis! We imagine they’d poke him with Mockingjay pins. BUT there could also be more surprise and vigor. One thing about The Hunger Games is that it’s pretty monotone. You can sense the strict control over the production as you watch it. Maybe Lawrence allowing other crew members be more actively involved in the creative process will breathe new life into the series.

Plus, if Gary Ross has no regrets about backing away from the series, maybe we shouldn’t feel that way either. We’ll always wonder what HIS Catching Fire looked like, but we’re interested to see the new team’s version even more.

“I Think She Would Tell You It’s Okay to Wonder” (Name that book!),
The Girl With The Pearl