Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

Still from 'The Hunger Games'

I knew nothing about The Hunger Games, except for some dim awareness that it was ragingly popular with the tweens, and that it had some kind of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic setting. It was the sci-fi premise, and boredom, that prompted me to put it on my watch list — which I did with some trepidation after the regrettable decision to watch “Twilight”, another pre-teen fave (I made it about 20 minutes into that horrible fluff before bailing out).

But The Hunger Games surprised me. Its plot devices are a bit hackneyed and familiar (e.g. Mad Max, The Running Man, “The Most Dangerous Game”, to name but a few). To wit: a post-war society turns to a ritualized fight-to-the-death, fantastically broadcast to the cheering and ignorant masses. Bread and circuses redux — we’ve seen it before.

But what made The Hunger Games stand out was its weird and adventurous production design, especially the costumes and make-up of the ruling classes. It envisions a future in which the rich and powerful signal their status with impossibly garish and baroque designs and colors — as was the custom in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when men wore elaborate wigs and heels. In contrast, the working classes are depicted wearing dustbowl-drab garments straight outta Dorothy Gale or Dorothea Lange. And as with Dorothy in OZ, part of the heroine’s journey in The Hunger Games involves a Project Runway-style makeover.

I especially like the costume design of the “Reaper” (shown in the photo on the left). I wasn’t sure whether she was a drag queen or not until she spoke.

Also: thumbs up to Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci for solidly creepy performances — they gave some serious flesh to this odd otherworld.

Goodbye, Sarah Jane

I am very, very sad — tears-in-the-eyes sad — to learn that Elisabeth Sladen has died. She was the Doctor’s most steadfast companion, and the sweetest. I can feel the mourning of Who fans everywhere right now; it’s a spooky and overwhelming sensation.

The Doctor’s skyrocketing popularity in America: a lament

The Mark 2 fibreglass (Tom Yardley-Jones) Tard...
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I am ambivalent about the increasing popularity of Doctor Who here in the United States (evidence of which is embedded below in the Fine Brothers’ fine video summarizing the last 47 years of the show). On the one hand, I am happy that more of my fellow Yankees finally “get” my favorite sci-fi show; on the other hand, I must come to grips with the fact that my love for the show no longer distinguishes me as quirky or unique (if it ever did).

We all know this phenomenon. We saw bands before they were cool… we watched audiences walk out in contempt at early Nirvana shows; we saw RuPaul performing on acid without a wig to a baffled crowd at the Pyramid. We “got it” ages before anyone else….

Oh well. Time to settle into my banality and run down the clock. The new season of Doctor Who will be a comfort in my dotage.

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Producers of “V” must be reading my blog…

Last year I wrote an open letter to the producers of the ABC remake of “V”; a little list of suggestions conceived to help punch up the show a bit.   The popularity of the remake took the network and producers by surprise — you may recall that it was pronounced dead on arrival before it even aired.

But scifi fanboys and girls saved the day, ensuring that “V” would indeed have a future.  But we are a fickle and hypercritical lot, so I offered some tips to help them keep the fans.

Well, I am pleased to report that they have adopted at least one of these suggestions: that any remake of “V” must, must recreate the famous rat-eating sequence from the 1980’s version.

As the photo shows, they did not disappoint!

(Follow the link to see the original post: Open Letter to the Producers of V)

Fringe and Twin Peaks occupy the same universe

It’s official, in my book anyway: Fringe is the best US science fiction show on television. Granted, it took a couple of seasons to find its groove, but find it it did. This is a rare occasion in American television: allowing a promising show to find a foothold in the murky sewers of public opinion.

The evidence for this is ample in the show’s increasingly complex storylines. But what really decided it for me was tonight’s episode, which included a subtle shout-out to David Lynch‘s legendary series Twin Peaks. Walter Bishop, the ever-tripping mad scientist of Fringe, is wearing peculiar, two-toned sunglasses. When told he looks good, he quips, “yes… they were sent to me by a Dr. Jacoby from Washington state…” Brilliant!!

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