Warning: I bitch a tiny bit about the Avengers trailer (forgive my negativity, I saw it twice)
Last Saturday I went to see The Hunger Games and 21 Jump Street. I have never read the Hunger Games trilogy and it wasn't until last week that I learnt what 21 Jump Street was all about (LOL showing my age and how sheltered I am). I was feeling a bit restless and decided to see two movies in one day again because they got some pretty damn good reviews.
I'm glad I did, these two movies were great. (I'll try not to be too spoilery - this is only a short response to the films).
The Hunger Games
Before I say anything about the movie, I must say this. If Bella from the Twilight saga ever got into this competition-to-the-death she would just sit on a rock and cry. She wouldn't even try to hide for as long as possible like smart Foxface, she would just literally sit down, turn herself into a huge target (for Edward and/or Jacob to save!!!) and cry, because she is that ridiculous.
Katniss Everdeen, however, is a huge massive BAMF. Katniss is prickly, strong, caring, protective and a born survivor. (She's also an archer, if that's your thing). She is capable and competent, with strengths and flaws. Her strengths are numerous and never apologised for and her flaws feel natural to her character and linked to her life experiences. While the books were in first person perspective, the movie chooses to avoid using voiceover and depict Katniss through strong visuals and some pretty damn good acting. We don't need to be told what is going through Katniss's head, we get shown.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian universe and explores issues about power, privilege and the power of social discontent and rebellion. I found the contrast between the privileged Capitol and the disadvantaged Districts to be done very well. It manages to show us that despite being the bad guys, for a lot of us in a first world country, our life is actually more like the Capitol, especially with how on their side, the Hunger Games are just this fun and gory reality TV show.
The movie also does a really good job of depicting the unsettling violence in this universe without either falling into desensitized gore or glamourising the violence into that fuzzy, Hollywood video-game violence. The first initial moments of the games is really, really unsettling and it manages it stay M rated, so it's a pretty amazing feat.
I don't know if I want to read the books or not, or even if I will watch the sequels, because I'm aware that this series, like any other blockbuster series that try to tackle pretty big themes can have some severe limitations or just some outright fuckups*. That said, I enjoyed watching the movie. Seriously, a non-fan enjoyed the movie, that's pretty nifty, right? The only way I knew that it was an adaptation besides the publicity is the fact that it is a pretty long movie.
*The controversy surrounding Jennifer Lawrence being cast as Katniss shouldn't be ignored, no matter how brilliant she was as Katniss. It's not the fact that a white actress was cast as Katniss, (that is plausible and not entirely offensive or wrong in itself), it's the fact that Caucasian actresses were explicitly preferred in casting while the character could actually be interpreted as anyone who identifies as a WOC or especially has multiracial ethnicity. If there was a thing as the perfect golden opportunity for an open-audition-all-ethnicities casting, this was the time to have done so. It's not really about the hair colour.
21 Jump Street
Look, let's just get this straight, this movie is a pure lowbrow dudebro comedy (It has Superbad's Jonah Hill if it clarifies anything) about two idiotic white guys who are cops, so take this with a grain of salt. If you're going to do a stupid parodic dudebro comedy, this is how it's done.
21 Jump Street is a movie that makes fun of action movies, high school movies and the premise of the show itself, not to mention the fact that it's an uncreative mining of past nostalgia due to a lack of ideas. It does all of this really well but to avoid making it just a relentless bitch-out of tropes without any real point being made, (like some comic book writers who I will not name), it also shows us why some of these tropes can be so much fun to watch. It also makes sure to lose the potential heartlessness of some deconstructions and parodies by actually treating the main characters as people, (even if they're stupid lowbrow comedy characters), instead of just fodder and setup for jokes.
Despite this comparatively short response, I actually took a lot more out from this movie about how you write characters. I was irresistably reminded of that stupid-ass Steve/Tony fic I had a massive rageout from last year and some other stupid Steve/Tony fandom/fanfic assholery I came across and couldn't help but feel that this movie actually gets it better than
most a goddamn lot some fic writers, so I'm pretty sure that I will soon make a new post about what 21 Jump Street does that others could learn from about writing characters. You can't blame me really, I had to see the Avengers trailer twice and it left me with lots of feelings, none of them good. Actually ragey feelings really. No seriously, I am more excited about The Three Stooges* movie than the Avengers. I don't know why, but this is definitely a different feeling from the nervousness I had when Captain America hadn't screened yet and all we had were some slightly unpromising press.
*This is actually not fair to the Stooges, I love the Stooges, even though I spend most of my time wincing in pain at their slapstick. That being said, my favourite comedy team from the classic cinema era are definitely Laurel and Hardy.