The Hunger Games movie buzz

The Hunger Games comes out tonight at midnight! I’ll be going to see the show tomorrow evening.

The movie has had an amazing amount of buzz; people are comparing this opening to the Harry Potter and Twilight movies, which all made bazillions on their first weekends. I’m very optimistic the movie deserves the hype. Best of all, The Hunger Games is an action movie with a strong female lead. Maybe it will do for action films what Bridesmaids did for comedies.

Here are some of the articles and reviews I’ve read about the movie in the past few weeks. Many of them seem focused on central problems of adaptation and whether it’s even possible. Others focus on how this and other YA novels are engaged in potical and social justice issues.

Will The Hunger Games Be the First Real Female Franchise? This article highlights what I think is one of the most important aspects of this movie: its potential to change the entertainment industry and our cultural definition of a hero.

The Sexual Politics of The Hunger Games I don’t think this article tells the full story, but it makes some good points in comparing HG to Twilight and talking about how the male characters are the ones objectified in these series.

Part Thoreau, Part Princess I love the title of this article. It discusses the tension in The Hunger Games between telling a survival story and a Cinderella/makeover story. Katniss’s own ambivalence does much to keep her story from becoming She’s All That: Wilderness Edition. In the end, she learns to use her beauty as just another tool in her toolbelt, and clothes and makeup are weapons and skills she learns to use against her enemies. Sounds pretty Third Wave to me.

Can The Hunger Games Really Capture All of Katniss Everdeen? This speculative article wonders whether the medium of film will be able to communicate the interior life of the heroine, when everything that makes her a sympathetic character is inside her, and her actions often make her seem unfeeling and cold. I agree this is one of the main challenges of the filmmakers.

10 Things from The Hunger Games That the Movies Probably Can’t Pull Off Just what it sounds like, a top 10 list of moments and concepts from the book that might not translate well to film.

The Mockingjay Problem Examines why the third book in the Hunger Games series may be problematic to adapt, and compares it to several previous movie adaptations to see how translating it to screen could change the story.

What The Hunger Games Gave Me This one is about the writer’s personal response as an abuse survivor to Katniss’s focus on survival. It’s the character’s key trait; it’s what makes her strong and also sometimes unappealing.

‘Hunger Games’ pits book gore vs. movie gore This article is mostly written for parents trying to figure out whether to let their kids see the movie. It points out the difference between violence in books and movies, mainly that with books readers have the choice about how much detail they want to see in their imaginations, but in movies, the director decides that for you.

Why The Hunger Games Is Way Better Than Twilight. Agreed.

The Hunger Games: Why It Matters This essay discusses the themes relating to reality TV and how it has the potential to change peoples’ perspectives.

Counter insurgency and ‘The Hunger Games’ compares the situation of the books/movie to questions about war and when it is or isn’t worth the cost in lives.

Slate’s review tells the skeptic: Just go see it! The biggest argument is that this story will dominate popular imagination for the next couple years, so you might as well know what’s going on.

The Washington Post’s review is very thorough and descriptive. Best quote: “One of the trickier aspects of bringing “The Hunger Games” to the screen is to avoid indulging in the very voyeuristic spectacle the story is supposed to be condemning.”

Is The Hunger Games Publicity too Hunger Games-ish? I don’t always agree with Katie Roiphe, but she has a point here, one that echoes the Washington Post review above. The book criticizes spectacle-creating marketing schemes, but the movie’s promotion engine is committing some of the same sins that the Capital cronies do.

Acting Trumps Action in a ‘Games’ Without Horror This negative review says that because the way the violence had to be filmed to get a PG-13 rating, the film loses the emotional revulsion and moral criticism of violence found in the book.

From Young Adult Book Fans to Wizards of Change This article discusses how readers of popular YA books like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter have created “fan activist” groups to take action on real-world issues.

Climate Change in The Hunger Games. This essay is about how this and other YA series imagine a world in which global warming has had catastrophic consequences, and the books are galvanizing some teens into action.

The Hunger Games: The first reviews are in, and they’re overwhelmingly positive A round-up of reviews.

A novice’s guide to The Hunger Games in Q&A format

The Hunger Names Explanations of the names of several characters.

Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. 90% rating at last check. Strong showing.

The Hunger Games: 16 (Im)posters A bunch of people took stills from the movie and made posters in the style of other movies and directors. Some are better than others.

The Capitol of Panem is Galt’s Gulch Professor Weston says HG is like a sequel to Atlas Shrugged.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games Is Either Terrific or Just OK–It All Depends on You Well, if that’s not the most wishy-washy movie review headline I’ve ever seen. Take a stand, people! The review profiles types of fans and predicts their reactions to the movie.

The Hunger Games: A lightweight Twi-pocalyse This negative review faults Collins for not explaining more fully how the society of Panem developed from our current society. I think he misses the point. The Hunger Games does criticize parts of our violent, celebrity-crazed, “reality”-hungry culture, but it’s not a critique of current politics like 1984, Brave New World, or The Handmaid’s Tale are. I don’t see a problem with Collins constructing a fantasy world. The reviewer also says that the movie focuses too much on the love triangle, which will probably be true. Mostly he just seems like a cynic who would hate any movie based on a YA novel.

Readerly movies coming out in 2012

There are several movies coming out this year that I consider “readerly” in that they’re based on books or stories.

I’m not sure that I’ll be able to see all of these, and probably not on opening weekend or anything. But If I do get to see them, I’ll drop in a review!

Dr Suess’s The Lorax comes out on March 2.

I’m a sucker for some good computer animation, and doesn’t rhyming make everything better?  And isn’t the environmental message more important every day?

The Raven comes out on March 9.

My recent viewing of Nevermore really showed me the dramatic possibilities in Poe’s life and works. John Cusack stars in this flick about Poe’s last days. Apparently it’s pretty fictionalized and features Poe hunting for a serial killer. Still has potential.

Mirror, Mirror comes out on March 16.

If you can’t tell from the poster, Julia Roberts as the evil queen is the main attraction of this adaptation, one of two coming out this year. It seems comedic and technicolor, based on the trailer. I like fairy tale adaptations a lot. I like the many allusions and verbal witticisms that often fill these retellings. And I love when a writer (or screenwriter) turns a tale on its head and makes it empowering and feminist. Here’s hoping that’s what happens to this one.

Also, Nathan Lane.

The Hunger Games comes out March 23. 

This is the movie I’m most anxious to see this year. I loved all three of the Hunger Games books and really want to see justice done to them. The trailer promises great things: good acting from the young, unknown stars, stunning visual effects, nonstop action, good writing. This might be worth fighting sleep through the school day after a midnight showing.

Snow White and the Huntsman comes on out June 1.

I’m ambivalent about this one. The concept (the huntsman who was ordered to kill Snow White trains her to take down the queen) is interesting, but…Kristen Stewart. I just hope her poor acting in Twilight came from the poor writing.

Jack the Giant Killer comes out on June 15.

More fairy tale adaptations! Fun times!

Brave comes out on June 22. 

Yay! After 17 years of movies dominated by male characters, Pixar is finally doing a movie for girls! And it’s not a “princess” movie! Well, Merida is a princess, but she’s more interested in her bow than her tiara. And the story is more about having adventures than about landing Prince Charming. That’s what I’ve heard anyway. And just look at Pixar showing off how good they are at animating hair now. It’s crazy how pretty it looks.

I know it’s weird that I’ve listed more new movies than books, but I think it’s because production companies do a much better job of publicity than publishing companies. They also plan farther ahead. I guess I might not know about some good books that are coming out, especially not in the second half of the year. Also, this is a fairy-tale-heavy year for movies, it seems. And that’s just fine with me.

New books coming out in 2012

There are lots of great books coming out in 2012! Here are a few I’m eagerly awaiting!

Pure by Julianna Baggott comes out on February 8! 

I met Julianna Baggott when she visited UC for a reading. She’s incredibly sweet and generous, and she gives hope to everyone who wants to both write and mother. I’ve followed her blog ever since. Pure is a post-apocalyptic YA novel that has already been picked up for adaptation. Here‘s a cool book trailer.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver comes out on February 28!

Like most of the books on this list, Pandemonium is continuing a series I have already enjoyed.  I chose Delirium as one of my favorite books of 2011.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore comes out on May 1!

Bitterblue is part of the Graceling series, and the first two were also in my favorite books list.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris comes out on May 1 too!

The Sookie Stackhouse books are hit and miss with me. I got into the series while watching the first season of True Blood.  I’ve grown to like the show more than the books, though, and that’s rare with me. I think it’s because TV is a better medium for adapting a novel than a movie. There is more space in a season of hour-long episodes to expand and deepen characters, while a movie can leave too much good stuff on the cutting floor. The main problem I have with this series is that Harris turns them out too quickly, and the series doesn’t seem to be driving toward any particular conclusion. Without an end goal, Sookie just ends up bed-hopping between Bill and Eric and whoever else, and the relationships feel kind of pointless. This is the 11th installment.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness comes out on July 10!

This is the sequel to A Discovery of Witches, which was another of my favorite books of 2011. I can’t wait to read all about Diana and Matthew in Elizabethan England! I know Harkness’s knowledge will make it fascinating!

Rules for Virgins by Amy Tan comes out on July 31!

This novella is set in pre-war Shanghai. It feels like it’s been a while since Tan released anything, so this is exciting.  I think it might be only released on the Amazon Kindle.

Have I missed any? Please tell me about any interesting books you know are coming out this year!

It’s going to be a great year!