Tag Archives: YA

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

23 Nov

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: It hooks you, but Lawrence is still MVP

By Tom Meek
November 22, 2013

whitespace

The second time may be a charm, but hey, it’s all relative. The first “Hunger Games,” written and directed by Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville”), felt paunchy, disingenuously deep and retro flimsy given the state of computer-enhanced filmmaking these days. That cinematic first chapter of Suzanne Collins’ runaway YA hit was a tad muddled, but then again it had the burden of informing newbies what they needed to know about the austere future world of Panem and its kid-against-kid death matches without boring the stuffing out of its loyal readership’s attention-challenged minds.

112213i The Hunger Games- Catching Fire

What made the first “Hunger Games” adaptation smolder, beyond its kinetic plot and high kitsch, was star Jennifer Lawrence, already revered for her work in “Winter’s Bone” and subsequently rewarded with an Oscar for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The actress, who possesses a wide, luminous face, aptly brought to the fore the deep disdain and skepticism imbedded in her can-do heroine, Katniss Everdeen. But living under the tyranny of a fattened plutocracy obsessed with power, control and hedonism while the masses slave and starve tends to do that to anyone possessing the faint embers of freedom and righteousness in their bellies.  Continue reading

The Book Thief

23 Nov

‘The Book Thief’: Stars and cinematography overcome cheapening of Holocaust setting

By Tom Meek
November 22, 2013

whitespace

Call me a curmudgeon about all these flimsy, quick-read books hitting on one or two hot issues and built around a slightly-more-than two-dimensional hero or heroine that become template fodder for profitable spins into film. “Twilight” may be the most egregious example, but “Fifty Shades of Grey,” itself notoriously birthed from the “Twilight” franchise, is in the making. Then there’s the “Hunger Games.”

112213i The Book Thief

Why is a book about the Holocaust lumped in with this phenomenon? Because Markus Zusak’s novel, which the movie “The Book Thief” is based on, is little more than a safe, PG-rated watering down of the horrific events that took place in Germany leading up to and during World War II. It’s more young adult than dramatic literature or historical record. And, as a matter of fact, it’s not history at all, but historical fiction, a genre that like YA is fertile ground for studio execs seeking a ready-made and willing-to-pay audience.  Continue reading