Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let The Games Begin... Again

One year from today, barring any major production snafus (which you KNOW the studio won't allow), Catching Fire will be brought to us in movie form. On one hand, a year seems like a long way away. On the other, I'm afraid that a year isn't enough time for them to do it properly. There are a lot of important bits and pieces in Catching Fire and, um, have they even started shooting yet?

But to commemorate the day, I thought I'd review the casting thus far. Some of these are being weighed on my knowledge of the actors and their past roles, but for the most part, by their look - I'm basically scrutinizing them based on if thy fit who I pictured the character to be.

All cast pictures are courtesy of The Hunger Games movie facebook page. The rest I yanked from a Google images search, for which I am a bad person.

SPOILER ALERT, I guess. Even though the aforementioned facebook page pretty much spoils it already. To get you on board, if for some reason you haven't read the book (to which I ask you, WHY?!), in Catching Fire, the tributes are reaped from the pool of living victors. Every 25 years, they have a "Quarter Quell" which is an amped up version of the Games, in which they change up the rules of the reaping a bit. In the first one, the Districts had to choose their own tributes. In the second one, they took four tributes from each District to compete. Now, at the 75th Annual Hunger Games and the third Quarter Quell, President Snow decides to try and take care of his Katniss problem by throwing her back in the arena. During the "Victory Tour" of the other Districts, Katniss sort of accidentally re-ignites the spark of rebellion that she started with her defiant act at the end of The Hunger Games. As the only living female victor from District 12, this decree automatically places her back in the arena. The explanation from the Capitol is basically, "we're going to show you that NO ONE is safe, not even your heroes. WE WILL QUASH ANY SEMBLANCE OF HOPE YOU MIGHT HAVE EVER HAD." I'm paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea.

Seriously, why haven't you read the book? Get on it.

In what is essentially an "all star" edition of the Hunger Games, we have a slew of tributes that are NOT between the ages of 12 and 18, but rather, ranging anywhere from 17 (Katniss and Peeta, the most recent victors) to 80-something (Mags). Varying ages and stories in between. What was most interesting about this in the book was the way Suzanne Collins handled the psyches of all of these people, the way all the victors have handled coping with their turn as a tribute and the aftermath. It's also sort of a way to drive home the impact of these games - they have been going for 75 years and have touched almost all of the living generations. All of the adults in Panem have faced the reaping, have known people that were reaped, killed, or maybe even won. It's really too bad she couldn't have spent more time on the other tributes and their character development. That would have been awesome. (I'm sure there's some fanfic out there, if you're truly interested.)

This installment also ramps up the strategy and nitty-gritty of a potential rebellion/revolution and starts to really show how much Katniss is being used as a pawn (which is likely why she spends most of Mockingjay in hospitals or hiding in closets. PTSD, anyone?) The poor girl is only 17. Yeesh. Anywho. There's also quite a bit more about alliances and the role those play, which will be interesting to present in the movie, because they didn't really explain the significance of forming alliances in the first movie - and how Katniss came to form her own alliance with Rue, and why she's determined to forge her own alliances this time around. It plays a MUCH bigger role in CF. Blah blah, I'll get to the good part now.


District 12.


Moving on.

District 11.

I think they did a great job here. Chaff looks like a weary war veteran, having spent years as a mentor and dealing with the same issues as Haymitch, coming from a District that's usually set to lose, and watching his tributes die year after year. Except Chaff didn't turn into a raging alcoholic like Haymitch did. Hey, everyone's got their coping mechanisms.

The role of Seeder seems to be appropriately cast, though I can't really remember much about her. I want to say that she was a kind soul who Katniss befriended during the training sessions. I suck at this. I need a re-read, stat.

District 10

Who? I don't really remember these people. I mean, it's been a while since I've read it, but these must be a throwaway pair. I assume they are offed in the Cornucopia Scramble of Death. I mean, hell. They don't even get NAMES.

Also, given the circumstance here, it would make sense to say "Male Tribute" and "Female Tribute" because, well, "Boy" and "Girl" are really not applicable when your tribute is 40ish years old. (See: District 5.)

District 9

I guess these people will do. I'd have to re-read the book to see how they match the descriptions for the tributes that were drawn, but... eh. Ultimately, they're not really that important to the story. Obviously. They don't get names.

District 8

Ok. Woof and Cecelia. They have names so they must have somewhat of a significance. I'm going to be honest, I'm drawing a blank. I think Cecelia is the one who has kids and was trying to be reassuring to them when her name got drawn even tough she knew she probably wasn't coming back. She was kind of the epitome of "hahaha you thought you were safe... nope. LET US DESTROY YOUR LIFE ALL OVER AGAIN."

I... don't remember much else. Given that... I guess these casting choices are okay.

This guy looks like a Woof, right?

District 7

One of the most anticipated casting choices, Jena Malone snagged the role of sassy bitch Johanna Mason. I haven't seen her in anything for a while (I guess the most recent role of note was in Sucker Punch, which I still haven't seen) but she's always been very good in anything she's been in. Not who I had pictured as Johanna, but I think she'll nail it.

I'm not sure Blight got anything more than a passing mention in the book, so I really have no opinion. This dude will work. I have no idea who he is. But Blight got minimal page time, so I'm sure this guy will get minimal screen time. (Then again, that's what everyone though about Seneca Crane. Except nobody thought that because Seneca Crane wasn't even really mentioned until Book 2. Hmm.)

District 6

Now, I know these two are also nameless, and referred to as "morphlings" - basically, drug addicts. My understanding was that morphling was on par with morphine, or something, based on how it's referenced here and there. These two have been strung out on painkillers for years as a way of coping with their trauma. Oh, but don't write them off. They do play an important role. Even though the girl has kind of a creepy death scene after her heroic moment. (What? You knew she was going to die. SHE DOESN'T HAVE A NAME.) 

That said, I don't know these actors, but... um... does it make me an asshole if I say they look like they'd do a good job of playing the tortured drug addicts? It does, doesn't it. Whatever. I... um... LOOK OVER THERE, IT'S FINNICK. *hides*

District 5

More nameless tributes. I'm not sure District 5 people ever get names. They'll do, I guess. The female tribute kind of reminds me of someone I've seen in something before, but I can't identify what or where. I could IMDB it, but I'm lazy.

(Edit: I did IMDB it and apparently this is the only thing she's been in. OMG WHO DOES SHE REMIND ME OF, THEN?! WILL NOT SLEEP! UNTIL I KNOW!) (JK. I'm an ace sleeper.)

District 4  

THE most anticipated role was that of cheeky Finnick Odair, the flirty Capitol playboy and Panem sex symbol. Of all the rumors floating around (and, oh, there were several), Garrett Hedlund was my pick. He looked like what I pictured Finnick to look like.


The role went to Sam Claflin, and I was initially all, WHO?! But then his bio listed Snow White and the Huntsman, and I was like, oh yeah. I guess he'll do. He obviously wasn't my first choice, but I think he'll do okay.

On the Mags front, someone somewhere was all BETTY WHITE FOR MAGS and while I thought that would have been interesting, I'm kind of glad they didn't go that route. There were some rumors for Melissa Leo, who, no. She is way too young.

In the end, Lynn Cohen got the role, and I think she fits. 

District 3

I am SO DISAPPOINTED about this one. Don't get me wrong. Jeffrey Wright is a great actor. I'm sure he'll do great. But I heard a casting rumor for Tony Shalhoub for Beetee and I almost peed my pants. (Ok, not quite.) He would have been PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT.

Tony Shalhoub is AMAZING at eccentric characters, and as soon as I heard his name attached to the role, I crossed every finger that was available to be crossed. (In a similar story, someone suggested Tilda Swinton for Coin in Mockingjay and OMG YES. I will not be satisfied if it is anyone but her.)

TELL ME this isn't the face of an oddball inventor. TELL ME.

Jeffrey Wright will do. But I will always be disappointed that it's not Tony Shalhoub.

Sorry, Jeff. Nothing personal.

In other news... Amanda Plummer as Wiress gets the thumbs up from me. 

District 2

YES. They NAILED it on this District. I have no idea who either of them are, but this guy looks just like Brutus should look - a former Career tribute who is practically drooling to get back into the arena. Hell, his real name is Bruno. He was destined to play this role.

Enobaria is, by all definitions, fierce - another favorite celebrity victor in the Capitol. Meta Golding is beautiful but there's something I can't quite pinpoint that looks like it's simmering just under the surface. She's going to rock it.

District 1

Yep, a gorgeous pair of blondes to fill in for the brother-sister Career tributes from District 1. Cashmere and Gloss, back to back winners from not that long ago. They look appropriate for the parts. I think it's harder to cast the female tributes - especially from the wealthier districts. They have to be pretty but equally fierce and deadly. I think Stephanie Leigh Schilling (whoever she is) definitely has the right look for the not-so-dainty Cashmere. 

Head Gamemaker

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee? Not what I pictured, but I am psyched about it. PSH is pretty brilliant. I don't know if I'm surprised he took a role in a movie like this or not. I mean, he DID do MI:3, so it's not like he's opposed to blockbusters. You know what? It doesn't matter.

I think that about covers it for the "major" roles, at least the ones that they had spaces for on the facebook page. I know there was a lot of murmuring about the big horizontal box, but... turns out it was just a placeholder for Katniss's mother... which... I don't know why they didn't post that one sooner, unless they couldn't get her to sign a contract before now, or something. She's back, Willow Shields is back as Prim, Liam Hemsworth is back as Gale (who actually has some screen time - let's see how he does now that he actually has to do something), Stanley Tucci is back (YAY!) as well as Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith. Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) is back, as are Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) and Lenny Kravitz (Cinna), who both have to prove themselves to me, because I wasn't sold on them before, and neither of them did much to win me over. I mean, their performances were adequate. God, I wanted Robert Downey Jr for Haymitch. Do you KNOW how EPIC that would have been? Alas. 

My last question is: who is Annie?! Did they cast Annie?! I was hoping the mystery box was for her, but... alas. THE MYSTERY REMAINS. She's not listed on the IMDB page. So help me, if they cut her out the way they cut out Madge Undersee... SUPERFANGIRL RAGE.

Anyway. That's what I got. Full disclosure: I wrote this back in October, so who even knows what will happen between now and then on the updates front. I felt that it would be appropriate to save it until the T-Minus-365 Days mark. I'm crafty like that.

Your thoughts? Anyone you thought would have been better? LET'S START A PETITION TO GET TONY SHALHOUB CAST AS BEETEE. YES?


chimes said...

This is like the longest post ever. Including the pix of course.

Anyway, I stopped by to say that I'm going to read these ... right after I read the Game of Thrones series. So it's going to be a while because there's 5 books (so far) in that series and each is 800+ pages.

However, I refuse to see the movies until I've read the books because as everybody knows, the book is always better than the movie. And I hate reading a book with a pre-determined look of the character in mind.

Amanda @ Semi-Health Nut said...

lol this is a long post!

I agree with your choice of Finnick...but the one that is actually going to be in the movie is NOT what I pictured!

I actually prefer to see the movie before reading books because I hate being disappointed in the way the characters look or if the movie leaves out certain things. It's always a treat to read the full story with a picture in my mind.

Jenn said...

Amanda Plummer is PERFECTION for Wiress. She nailed the crazy lady in SVU and I'm so excited. Also I really love Phyllip Seymour Hiffman so I'm pumped about him too.

I really need to retread this though because I don't remember ANY of the other tributes!

Kelly L. said...

Read these first, they will take you a lot less time than Game of Thrones. There are only 3 books and you can plow through them over a weekend.

Kelly L. said...

I've had better luck watching movies first... because inevitably the movie never lives up to it. However, if I see the movie first, then I can enjoy the book and movie separately on their own merits. And it's fun to fill in the blanks later.

I can go both ways, but... I tend to be less of a book snob about it if I watch the movie first.

Kelly L. said...

It's been so long since I've read it that I'm impressed I remembered as much as I did. :/

Stephanie Fink said...

Johanna needs to be... sharper... looking. You know what i mean? Bitchier. But i like Jenna Malone, so whatev. And Finnick should be way more bronzy & manly. Annie doesn't come into play until Mocking jay though, right? I don't remember most of the rest of these characters. :|

Kelly L. said...

I've seen Jena Malone do bitchy, I think she can do it.

Annie is BRIEFLY in Catching Fire, she gets drawn and then Mags takes her place. If they want to set her up properly for Mockingjay, she'll need to at least have a cameo in CF.

terra said...

Reading this has made me realize that I need to reread the books. I've forgotten SO MUCH and there is SO MUCH in the books. Gah! Can't wait for the next movie though!

Tori said...

The girl from District 5 is what I pictured Annie would look like. NOW WHO IS GOING TO PLAY ANNIE.