Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lawrence’

‘The Hunger Games,’ Suzanne Collins’s hugely popular 2008 novel, challenges the reader’s conception of love and reality

December 14, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 14, 2016

If hearing or seeing the words The Hunger Games doesn’t spark at least a flicker of recognition in your mind, then you probably were not literate, conscious and residing in the United States for most of the years 2008 through 2015.

That first year, of course, was when American TV writer and young-adult novelist Suzanne Collins published The Hunger Games, her tale of a teenager in a post-apocalyptic United States who is essentially drafted as a competitor in a televised life-and-death battle of adolescents from across what used to be known as North America. The book and its sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, were enormously successful, selling 4.3 million copies in 2010, the year the finale was published.

Book sales grew exponentially, reaching nearly 28 million copies by 2012, when a movie adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence was released. Three film sequels appeared in late November of the following three years. (The last book, rather notoriously, was split into two films.)

I’ve watched and enjoyed the first two movies, and I toyed with the idea of reading the books, but I never acted on the impulse until I saw a copy of The Hunger Games sitting on the small shelf of free books at Joe Van Gogh’s Broad Street store in Durham.

I can now report that the Hunger Games book is a lot like what I expected. Like the movie, the book is briskly paced and enjoyable. Collins’s novel feels more nuanced than the film adaptation because some of the story’s emotional beats develop more organically here.

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‘To sleep, perchance to dream’ — ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ remakes history with a not entirely entrancing extended catnap

June 28, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2014

In the year 2023, the new movie X-Men: Days of Future Past informs us, virtually everything is dimly lit, computer-animated or both. More to the point, plot-wise, giant shape-shifting robots are waging a deadly war against mutated humans and anyone sympathetic to them. The remnants of the X-Men, a group of superpowered mutants, fight a losing battle over and over: Time and again, the robotic Sentinels discover and breach their hideout, slaughtering the mutants one by one, until they reach the inner sanctum and find that…nothing has happened.

The extermination of the heroic X-Men is repeatedly undone because of the duo of napper extraordinaire Bishop (Omar Sy) and psychic Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). She’s able to project Bishop’s consciousness into the mind of his younger body, some hours or days in the past, which allows him to warn his colleagues of the impending danger and go elsewhere ahead of the Sentinels’ arrival. History changes at the very moment Bishop wakens, meaning that each deadly assault is completely lost to the universe but for Bishop’s memory of it.

Now Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the leader of the X-Men, has conceived a daring plan to end the war before it begins, to use the movie’s haughty phrase. Pryde will send Logan, code-name Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), into his younger body in 1973. His mission: To round up allies who will prevent the mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, frequently wearing a blue bodysuit and heavy makeup) from committing the murder that triggered the destructive Sentinel-mutant war.

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‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ sets up battles but can’t deliver a coup de grâce

December 16, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 16, 2013

Some years ago, while I was working as a newspaper reporter on the K-12 education beat, I went to an English classroom to cover the first day of school. I don’t remember the teacher’s name, or the exact nature of her class, but I believe the instructor worked with poorly performing students.

At one point, either before the period began or during a particularly dull stretch as the teacher was laying down the ground rules for the coming year, I was standing in the back of the room. There was a bookcase beside me, and I idly picked up a paperback volume. The description on the back was at once intriguing and obscure; it seemed to involve a young woman with a bizarre name and a repressive futuristic society and an incipient rebellion…

The book seemed interesting, but it also appeared to be aimed at young adults, so I set it aside. Still, the title of the novel, and the names of the character or characters mentioned on the back cover, stuck with me.

This, of course, is how I became aware of The Hunger Games, the best-selling trilogy of Suzanne Collins novels about a dystopian future. (Well, is there any other kind of future?)

But not until the first Hunger Games movie (with that very title) came out last year was I actually exposed to anything beyond the broad outlines of the narrative.

If you’re not up to speed, the first entry in the trilogy goes as follows: Tough, smart young archer Katniss Everdeen is the female resident of impoverished District 12 who is destined to compete in the Hunger Games. This annual competition of the autocratic nation of Panem pits 24 young contestants — one male and one female from each of the dozen districts — against each other in a battle to the death. The last person standing is assured of lifelong fame and wealth.

But by the end of The Hunger Games — spoilers follow — in an unprecedented development, two champions are crowned. One is Everdeen; the other, Peeta Mellark, the baker’s boy who for years has secretly adored Katniss.

Mellark is fairly good-looking and pretty strong, but, like the female love interests in many a more traditional action-adventure tale, the character is mostly defined by his love for the protagonist.

I liked the first movie well enough, while recognizing its limitations. There’s something rather off-putting about an entertainment franchise that implicitly scolds its fictional audience for enjoying the sight of young people killing one another while simultaneously enticing its actual audience with the promise of young people killing one another. This is true even though the actual killing in the first Hunger Games movie is de-emphasized to the point of bowdlerizing the narrative.

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