How Katniss Can Save the Movies by Alynda Wheat

This is a reprint of an article in the April 23, 2012 edition of PEOPLE magazine, Vol. 77, No. 17. It was written by Alynda Wheat. It was so pertinent to what I think about Hunger Games, Hollywood, and books that I had to post it.

It’s official: The Hunger Games is a box office behemoth, racking up more than $300 million. I couldn’t be happier–because very ticket sold is a vote for a new kind of blockbuster. If they truly care about audiences, here’s what I hope studio moguls take away from this hit:

ACTION DOES NOT EQUAL MEN

I’ve seen enough guys with swords and sandals fighting CGI monsters to last a lifetime, and I’ll bet you have too. Hollywood is flummoxed about how to get women interested in male-driven action films, unless the character’s name is Bond or Bourne. (John Carter, not so much.) Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is exciting because we so rarely see complex, believable female action stars, much less one who’s as appealing to 11-yesr-old girls as she it to their teen brothers and middle-aged parents. Katniss is tough but no invulnerable, kind but not soft, noble but hardly sappy. She’s a great character, whatever her gender, and I want to see more like her.

DOWN WITH LOVE

Just because Twilight breaks down into Team Jerk A and Team Jerk B doesn’t mean female-centric films need a love triangle. Granted, Katniss has two admirers, best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and fellow tribute (Josh Hutcherson), but she’s ambivalent about her feelings for either rof them and focused on merely surviving. I’m not heartless—I don’t hate love. I just hate it when women are defined by it.

THE STARS ARE FALLING

It’s been ages since A-list movie stars generated automatic hits. No worries: They don’t need to. Jennifer Lawrence’s relative anonymity hasn’t hurt The Hunter Games. In fact, it serves the film by letting us immerse ourselves in Katniss’s world. Can you imagine Jennifer Aniston in District 12? Actually, don’t.

NERDS RULE

Rejoice, bookworms, for we are the most powerful people in Hollywood! Megahit series like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Twilight make studiosever more reliant on readers to know what will sell, which means they have to listen to fans. In the end Hollywood has a simple choice, really: Surrender or die!

X X X X X

In general, I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Wheat, though I have to say that I still go see men-centric action movies quite often. I like men with swords and sandals, or capes and masks. I’m greatly anticipating going to see The Avengers this weekend (my mother’s day present to myself) and I’m really looking forward to the next Batman installment. In fact, I’d rather see these kinds of movies than most RomComs available these days. No J-Lo, no Jennifer Anniston, No Katherine Heigl (though I plan to see her Stephanie Plum movie as soon as it’s out on DVD).

It makes so much sense to turn successful books into movies; they come with an audience built right in. It’s almost no fail. I can hardly wait to see Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game brought to the big screen for Thanksgiving next year, and I’m also pretty excited about Stephanie Meyer’s The Host (due March 29, 2013).

If you’re looking for tough female leads, then you can’t go wrong with Selene, in Underworld, played by Kate Beckinsale. It’s not based on a book, but the series is in my top five favorites. Also, you might check out Haywire that just came out on DVD last week, staring Gina Carano, an honest-to-God female UFC fighter. The story is nothing new, and I wonder if maybe the producer blackmailed all the A-list male leads into joining the cast. Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Pullman, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas make an interesting ensemble. The plot and acting was blasé to say the least, but Gina Carano was one of the most believable butt kickers I’ve ever seen. Unlike Zoe Saldana in Columbiana or Angelina Jolie in Salt whose dainty wrists should break in fight scenes, Carano was believable muscle.

Yay Girlpower!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth
    May 07, 2012 @ 20:49:24

    This is going to seem silly, but I was wondering why I love the action in dystopias so much when I really am not a big fan of action movies (well, I like some superhero movies, but that’s an exception)… and now I’m thinking it might be because of ALL THE FEMALE HEROES!!! Duh.

    Reply

  2. squee1313
    May 07, 2012 @ 22:01:10

    A lot of my favorite Urban paranormal books have kickass females I love tough women too. For tough chicks I recommend the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I also like the grave Series featuring Charlie Davidson by Darrinda Jones. Also the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.

    Reply

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