The Hunger Games

Girl on Fire? You said it. 😉

Today’s review is a movie that I have been waiting all year to see and it is the third-biggest movie of the year, behind The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. So what movie would this be? Well, in a word, it’s The Hunger Games.

Before we get started with this review, I have a bit of a confession to make. Going into this movie, I had never read any of the Hunger Games books yet I heard that it was really popular. When I heard that it was another series of books that had an enormous fan base and that it was going to be a movie, I was like, “Oh, great. This is going to be another Twilight.” Then I heard all the reviews and the positive word-of-mouth coming in and I was like, “Maybe I should check this out.” It took me months to see it and I finally saw it last Friday before I went into school and sure enough, it was everything that the critics and moviegoers said it was.

The world of The Hunger Games takes place in the future where the whole continent of North America has been turned into the fictional nation of Panem. That means no US, no Canada and no Mexico. At least we can’t blame Obama for that one. Panem was supposedly divided into 13 “districts.” (kind of similar to how America got started. Get it? 13 districts, 13 colonies?) However, at one point, all the districts revolted against the Panem government, a revolt that the president ruthlessly suppressed by wiping out District 13 (I think they nuked it or something) and they passed what is known as the Treaty of Treason, which created the idea of the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games was designed as punishment for the failed uprising in which every year each district offers up one boy and one girl (usually between the ages of 12 and 18) to compete in the Hunger Games, which can basically be described as the Olympics from Hell. However, there is no gold, silver, or bronze medals rewarded. There can only be one winner. Everyone else dies. And we’re talking about kids here. Kids killing kids, unpleasant to say the least.

So I’ve said enough, now onto the movie.

The movie actually starts in District 12, which is a coal-mining district that looks like something out of the Depression-era. I did mention this was set in the future, right? Here we are introduced to our main heroine, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (played by Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence) who is actually the strongest female character we’ve seen in movies in ages. She is sort of the man of the house (her father was a coal miner who got killed in a mining accident) who goes out and hunts with a bow and arrow which she is pretty good at and will serve her later on.

Soon enough, the government of Panem comes a calling because it is Hunger Games season which means time to round up their one boy and one girl to see die on national television. Sent to pick the District 12 contestants is a rather flamboyant reporter (played by Elizabeth Banks.) Normally, Elizabeth Banks is a hot chick. She appeared as Betty Brant in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies but she’s probably best known as the sexy yet freaky girl in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Here, she’s virtually unrecognizable under the excessive make-up, bizarre hairstyle, and an outfit that looks like Victorian Era-meets-80’s era MTV. In fact, when we get to the Capital, you’ll notice that everyone is practically dressed like her, but I’ll get to the capital in a bit. However, all this works for the character and she ends up stealing the movie.

So they come and they pick their two contestants: A boy named Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss’ 12-year old sister Primrose. Horrified that they would pick her younger sister, Katniss volunteers to take her place, which moves everyone in the movie. So Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capital of Panem which is ruled by the rich and by the media. (Sound familiar everyone?)

There they are introduced to luxuries that they are not used to, like exotic food, a comfortable penthouse apartment with a remote-control window that can change the scenery at any time, and more elegant clothing and spa treatment. Apparently Panem wants its contestants to live like celebrities before they kill each other. And everything leading up to the games themselves (a parade and talk show interviews) kind of resembles American Idol from Hell. Katniss wows the audience by wearing outfits that emits fire which leads everyone to call her “the Girl on Fire.” Take that, Kristen Stewart!

And finally, we get to the main event, where Katniss puts all her skills to the test against the other contestants, who have been training for this their entire lives. And yes, things do get very intense. After all, this is a duel to the death. Now there have been some criticisms about the violence in the movie and the harm it may have on children. I have to say the violence in the movie isn’t really that bad. It gets its point across without being overly excessive.

As far as the performances go, everything’s pretty good. As I mentioned before, Jennifer Lawrence is a really effective screen heroine. She’s vulnerable when she needs to be but otherwise, she is pretty strong-willed and fearless. In short, she has characteristics that have been missing from big-screen heroines for years. The male performances were pretty good, most notably Woody Harrelson playing Haymitch Abernathy, a former Hunger Games champ turned mentor who spends his time drinking and cracking jokes. In short, he’s playing Woody Harrelson and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Another actor in the movie I didn’t recognize right away was Lenny Kravitz (who plays Katniss’ stylist.) I mean, it’s been years since I last saw or heard from him. And Donald Sutherland turns in a chilling performance as the President of Panem who at one minute is heaping praise on someone and showering complements on someone and at the other minute is plotting to have that person killed. In short, he’s like the Emperor in Star Wars.

And there is something else I like about this film that I don’t like about the Twilight series (both book and film incarnations), the author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (who also co-wrote the screenplay which gives it a degree of authenticity) treats its readers with dignity and intelligence, unlike that OTHER young adult movie series!

So how does The Hunger Games compare to Harry Potter and that franchise that will not be named? For one thing, the film is as good as the best of the Harry Potter movies (maybe even better) and it completely blows the Twilight Saga out of the water. And by Twilight Saga, I am also including Breaking Dawn Part 2 in the mix even though it’s not out in theaters until next month. I saw the trailer for that movie and it sucks! It confirms every bad thing everyone has been saying about that series for years. That while I have said in the past that it’s not required to have seen a Twilight movie to know it sucks, I think I’m actually going to see Breaking Dawn: Part 2 when it comes out so that way if it really does suck, I’ll be able to show it no mercy. Besides, I hope it bombs worse than John Carter and Battleship combined.

But back to Hunger Games. Awesome movie, really worth checking out. I’m glad I saw it. Trust me, it was well worth the really long wait I had to endure just to see it. And if the next two movies (because there are two more books to adapt and the next one comes out next fall) are as good as this, we’re gonna be in for a really awesome film series.

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Team Blackcat Pwns Team Edward

Well, here it is, my latest Q & A vlog is now up. This is my first original video since going on my year-long hiatus from video making. I was in the process of writing this video when the computer I was using ended up losing its sound which rendered me unable to make videos. But now that I’m back with a new camcorder and new editing software, get ready because I’m back and ready to hit the Interwebs hard. So if you have 20 minutes to spare, hope you enjoy this. So without further ado, here we go.

Q: Would you rather date a lot of different people, or be in a committed relationship?

A: At this point in my life, I think it would be best if I was with a lot of different people as opposed to being in a committed relationship with a girl who is absolutely wrong for me.

Q: If you were given the money to start a new business, what business would you open?

A: A film studio.

Q: How many languages do you speak?

A: Primarily I speak English but I also took Spanish in high school. I’m at least 14 years out of practice. lol

Q: What’s your favorite season of the year?

A: Summer. Hot weather, hot chicks, awesome times.

Q: If you were offered the job of U.S. president would you take the job?

A: No. In fact, right now it looks like I may not be voting in this year’s elections for the first time since 1996. It’s shaping up to be one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” elections.

Q: What was your favorite TV show as a child?

A: There was so many. I was a fan of Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, Garfield, the 60’s Batman series, The A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Star Trek (both original and The Next Generation)… list goes on and on. I was a child of the 80’s. It was the best decade for TV, the best decade for movies, and the best decade for music. 80’s FTW.

Q: Have you ever been fired? If so why?

A: Not yet. I quit a couple of jobs though. I worked at McDonald’s as a second job for a month in 2001. I quit because they didn’t give me enough hours and I quit Stop and Shop in 2002 because I was moving up to the Mohawk Valley.

Q: What does your average day consist of?

A: Sleep, work, Internet, school and whatever else happens.

Q: What’s your favorite genre of music?

A: Top 40 music and 80’s music. Once again, 80’s FTW.

Q: If you had a personalized license plate what would it say?

A: 1LONECAT

Q: Butter side up or butter side down?

A: Butter side up.

Q: Would you rather own a luxury yacht or a private jet?

A: If I had the money, I’d take both.

Q: Do you consider yourself athletic?

A: Well I do work out with weights and walk, but I don’t really play sports. So I guess you can say I’m sorta athletic. lol.

Q: What would be your favorite Charlie Sheen-inspired cocktail? Would it be made by a Warlock with Tiger blood? Whatever your choice make sure it’s a winning one!

A: It would be a Major League Wall Street Special w/ a 2 1/2 Hot Shot lemon twist. Is that winning enough for you? lol.

Q: If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?

A: To be rich, to find true love, and to be successful.

Q: What’s your favorite memory from this past summer?

A: I haven’t really have too many memories from this summer since this summer has officially started but my favorite memory from last summer was when I went to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Q: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

A: Haven’t seen her in eons. Must’ve retired or something. lol

Q: If you could immediately change one thing about current affairs, social policy, and so on but it had to be something that didn’t directly benefit you, what would it be?

A: The economy.

Q: Do you believe in karma?

A: Yes I do.

Q: How would you tell your crush that you like them?

A: Best just to say it flat out.

Q: What’s your favorite saying?

A: “One lone cat against a big bad world,” which as many of you already know (unless of course you’re new to my videos) is the very definition of my username.

Q: What is the most difficult job you can think of?

A: My current job. lol

Q: How do you like your eggs cooked for breakfast?

A: Overeasy.

Q: Who are your top 5 favorite rappers of all time?

A: Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Tupac.

Q: Where’s the best place in your hometown to get a great burger or milkshake?

A: Outside of Mickey D’s or Burger King, I would have to say Empire Diner. Not sure if they serve milkshakes or not. lol.

Q: If you have kids, are you gonna let those little bastards play video games?

A: Depends on what video games I let them play. lol.

Q: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

A: Pizza.

Q: Which do you like better – football (NFL) or football (soccer)?

A: Not a fan of either, but I would have to go with the NFL on this one.

Q: How do you generally get around – walk, bike, drive, public transportation or some other way?

A: Usually walk. My travel is very restricted.

Q: What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

A: I know it’s a bit late for Christmas (or early depending on your point of view since we are already halfway through the year) but I’ll answer the question anyway: Chocolate chip.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about staying in a hotel over the holidays?

A: I don’t usually stay in hotels over the holidays but it would be really nice if I did.

Q: If you could kiss any celebrity at midnight on New Year’s Eve, who would it be?

A: So many, but I think this year I’d have to go for Scarlett Johansson.

Q: What fast-food restaurant do you visit most often?

A: I usually visit McDonald’s and Burger King most often.

Q: What would you do if you saw that a friend had a piece of food stuck between his or her teeth?

A: Offer a toothpick?

Q: What is the first word that you said as a baby?

A: Not sure. Can’t really remember too much until I was 2. And that reminds me of a quote that I learned during my first semester at HCCC. My writing professor said that no matter how bad of a day you have had and you go around thinking that the day you had was the worst day of your life, keep in mind that you already survived the worst day of your life: The day you were born. Thankfully a lot of us don’t have memories of us being born. If we did, chances are we’d all be in therapy.

Q: Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?

A: I think it was my senior portrait waaaaaaay back in the 1996-97 school year at Red Hook High School.

Q: Could you eat a pizza right now?

A: There’s always time for pizza.

Q: And this is a Twilight question, folks. Breaking Dawn: Part 1 came and went in theaters and of course I did not go and see it and I’ll take your word for it that it sucked and it’s safe to say that I’m definitely not going to see Part 2 when it comes out later this year. Then again, it’s not really required to see the Twilight movies to know they suck. But I will answer this age-old question for you since I know you like it when I rip on Twilight: Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?

A: Neither. I’m Team Blackcat. However, since I’ve heard about how badly Jacob (supposedly the nice guy in the franchise) has been portrayed throughout the franchise and the fact that the girl would choose the sparkly emo whatever he is over over the nice guy is so disturbingly like real life it’s not even funny. And since I’ve been in that situation many a time, I guess you could say I’m Team Jacob.

Q: Is masturbation cheating?

A: No. In fact, some people are aroused by that.

Q: Do you eat dairy products?

A: Some dairy products. Not that I’m vegan or anything like that. I just don’t like certain cheeses and not a fan of milk.

Q: Do you use Google Plus?

A: Yes. I’m on Google Plus. The link is in my Links/Contacts section on this blog.

Q: Between “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter” and “The Twilight Saga,” which is your favorite?

A: I’m not too familiar with the Hunger Games series and I’m pretty sure you know by now how I feel about Twilight, so I have to say Harry Potter all the way! Although I do think in all fairness that the Hunger Games movie looks very interesting and I might check it out but I’m gonna wait till DVD for that, not to mention Jennifer Lawrence (the hot girl who stars in the Hunger Games is much hotter than Kristen Stewart. I’m sorry, but Kristen Stewart doesn’t really do anything for me. Just sayin’.

Q: What was your best subject at school?

A: In high school it was English and Spanish. So far in college I think it was my writing class during my first semester last year.

Q: Rock, paper or scissors?

A: Rock.

Q: What do you put on your French fries?

A: If it’s store-bought French Fries or fries at a restaurant, I usually put ketchup on them, but if it’s at Mickey D’s or BK, I just eat them plain.

Q: Have you ever been a victim of bullying?

A: I’m pretty sure everyone at one time or another has been bullied. Yes, I have been bullied before but looking back, it wasn’t as bad as the cases of bullying that affect the world today.

Q: Zombie, werewolf, or vampire?

A: Zombie. The werewolf and vampire genre is pretty much dead now, thanks to a certain franchise that will remain nameless. (sneezing) Twilight!

Q: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, have you stuck with them so far?

A: Yes. One of my resolutions is to get back to making videos in 2012 and now that I have my new laptop and HD camcorder, I am actually meeting that goal. As far as the working out resolution goes, I’m definitely not having a problem with that one since I had gym last semester and I have access to the Fitness Center during the summer. I also have another gym course next semester since I need two credits in gym to graduate. So that will definitely not be a problem.

Q: What do you do to stay fit?

A: I walk and lift weights at the HCCC gym. And when I go outdoors from spring to fall, I go for walks on the Canal Trail. Not to mention as I said earlier that I walk pretty much everywhere.

Q: “Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” In case you don’t know, that’s a quote from Matthew Arnold. Do you think it’s better to be and become?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you think a movie or restaurant makes for a better first date?

A: Either one would work well for me.

Q: What message would you want to put in a fortune cookie?

A: What a wise man (Clint Eastwood) once said: “You’re shit out of luck!”

Q:  What piece of clothing in your closet will you never throw away?

A: My leather jacket.

Q: What song do you sing in the shower?

A: I don’t sing in the shower. Can’t sing to save my life.

Q: Do you watch Glee?

A: Nope. I could care less about Glee. It’s pretty much a less kid-friendly rip-off of High School Musical done in TV series format.

Q:  Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

A: One can never have too much chocolate. lol.

Q: Do you ever think that you have a “calling” that you are supposed to answer?

A: Yes I do. I’m kinda doing it right now.

Q: Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

A: Cookie Monster.

Q: What is your favorite comeback story?

A: When Michael Jordan left basketball in the early 90’s to pursue a baseball career and then deciding to come back to basketball over a year later and led the Bulls to another 3 NBA championship titles.

Q: Do you have a special diet like vegetarian, halal, kosher, gluten-free, etc? How long have you kept it for?

A: Nope. I still eat what I want. But I am starting to eat a little healthier.

Q: See any good movies?

A: Last one I saw in theaters was The Avengers. There’s a few coming out this year that I wanna check out. And no, Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is not on the short list. More like the Spider-Man reboot, The Dark Knight Rises, Expendables 2, the new Bond movie “Skyfall…” I could go on.

Q: Frogs: Friend or foe?

A: I don’t think frogs are that bad actually.

Q: How old is too old for a teddy bear?

A: I guess never.

Q: Have you ever been horseback riding?

A: Yes, when I was a kid.

Q: Have you ever been to San Francisco? What’s your favorite spot in your hometown?

A: Nope. Haven’t been anywhere in Cali yet. Don’t really have a favorite spot in my hometown.

Q: Do you have the moves like Jagger?

A: I haven’t danced since 8th grade so I have no idea.

And now let’s move on to the Meetme questions:

Q: What’s the most expensive gift you’ve ever got for someone else?

A: I haven’t really bought anything expensive for anyone to tell you the truth.

Q: How do you learn to love again when the one you loved the most has betrayed you?

A: Very hard question to answer. Sometimes you can’t. Something like that is never easy to get over.

Q: Are you left-handed or right-handed?

A: Right-handed.

Q: What is one trait you could not put up with in another person?

A: Being controlled by them.

Q: What’s your favorite flavored Pringles?

A: Ranch. Basically I don’t discriminate against Pringles. I can down a whole can of those in one sitting without gaining weight. It’s one of those few products that actually live up to its tagline: “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”

Q: What are the best relationships based on in your opinion: Friendship or physical attraction?

A: Either one is about the same to me.

Q: Do you chat on Yahoo?

A: Not really, although I am on Messenger.

Q: What’s the most played song on your iPod?

A: Actually I don’t have an iPod. I can’t afford it.

Q: Have you ever had a crush on a coworker? And if so did it work out?

A: Yes, several times between two different jobs. And neither one of them worked out. Long story on both of those and I don’t really want to make this longer than it needs to be.

Q: If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

A: Whatever I want.

Q: You’re eating alone and you look across the room and there is a girl sitting alone. You think you might know her. Do you approach the girl or shrug it off?

A: Depends on the situation. She may want to be alone.

Q: If the Pope poops, is it holy crap?

A: It could be.

Q: Your boyfriend or girlfriend says “I love you” first. How do you respond?

A: With the words, “I love you too.”

And like I said earlier, now that I’m back making videos, I have a lot planned for this coming week. Among them is the long-awaited episode of The Adventures of Blackcatloner, which I am hoping to start up again sometime soon.