Tonight's episode: The Hunger Games
Before we start, I'd like to make a couple of things clear: 1) I've read the book series and 2) holy crap, SPOILERS.
And here we go!
It is incredibly refreshing to see a blockbuster movie with a young woman in the lead role that isn't some piece-of-shit romance/rom-com. I don't need to see another fucking movie with a ridiculous (and oftentimes emotionally abusive (played for laffs, of course)) romantic entanglement. Barf, barf, barf.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen as if she has actually read the books. Katniss is strong and loyal. She doesn't make friends easily or try to impress people. In other words, she is the polar opposite of the milquetoast can't-make-a-decision-for-herself type of role that we see so often lately. *cough!* Bella *cough!*
The casting in general is pretty inspired, but Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) stole the entire show. He manages to perfectly encapsulate the immense likeability and the extremely fake emotional reactions that are the hallmark of the truly great talk show hosts. Tucci plays Flickerman like Ruby Rhod without Chris Tucker's mania. And trust me, it works.
The other thing that struck me was how emotionally engaged everyone in the theater was. Right at the beginning during the "reaping" scene, people in my row and behind me had already started crying-- Katniss' sacrifice for her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is terrible. Later in the movie, when Rue (Amandla Stenberg) died, I found myself crying, even though I knew it was going to happen and I haven't cried during a movie in years. Both she and Jennifer Lawrence were just that good.
All in all, I was impressed. The Hunger Games had to walk a fine line between making a point about senseless violence and being grotesque. It succeeded though an excellent script and excellent casting. I would definitely consider watching it again.
If you would like a little more meat, may I suggest reading up on the racist reactions to the casting of The Hunger Games? It's an interesting look at a mix of how awful people truly are and their complete lack of reading comprehension skills.