THE ODDS IN MY FAVOR: Reflections of “The Hunger Games” Movies From A Fan

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The iconic symbol that will always be remembered. Image courtesy of thereeldealonfilm.com

 

AN APPRECIATION OF SUZANNE COLLINS’ ACCLAIMED BOOK SERIES AND MOVIES

About three and a half years ago, I was talked into seeing a movie starring an actress I had never heard of, who was playing some teenage girl living in some futuristic dystopian and totalitarian society.

Actually, I was virtually dragged into the theater as my attitude was, “I’ll catch it on Direct TV Cinema when it appears on there in a few months,” being told that I’d love this young actress because she was my type; round features with curves, not skinny like far too many ingenues in Hollywood.

After seeing this movie, well, let’s put it like this:

I’m still thanking the person who insisted that I go see it.

The young actress?

Jennifer Lawrence, who was everything I was told and who I developed a crush on.

The film?

The Hunger Games.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 – Official Trailer

 

Upon leaving the theater that afternoon, I had already determined that movie as having beaten the Harry Potter series in my book, which considering the significant impact that young British wizard and his friends (and enemies) had on pop culture – and culture in general – that certainly was saying something.

That conviction was only reinforced when I subsequently read the books, having bought them a few weeks after seeing the first film, and saw the subsequent Hunger Games sequels over the next three years: Catching Fire – which is my favorite of the three books and four movies – Mockingjay, Part 1 and Mockingjay, Part 2, which I saw on its opening day and in my official review (which I’ll make very short) wrapped up the story of Katniss Everdeen and her fight to help free Panem from the Hitlerian President Snow quite nicely.

It’s not my intention to give a full review of Mockingjay, Part 2 as tons of newspapers and internet sites have already done so.

I’ll just say these two things:

1.   If you read the book, you know full well what happens and how things end with Katniss, her partner-in-the-Games Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson), and her District 12 mate Gale Hawthorne (played by Liam Hemsworth). If you hadn’t, I’m not going to be the one to spoil it for you.

2.   If you hadn’t seen Catching Fire or especially Mockingjay Part 1, I strongly suggest that you do so before seeing Mockingjay, Part 2. Otherwise you will likely be going “huh?” throughout that film as the opening scene literally picks up right where Mockingjay, Part 1 left off; no opening credits, no prologue, nothing.

 

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SS_D109-311515.dng    Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) with her fellow rebels in Mockingjay, Part 2. Still courtesy of obxentertainment.com

 

All right, now that I’ve gotten that little review out-of-the-way…

I was mentioning how in my opinion – and I’m sure in at least a few others – as much as I liked the Harry Potter books and movies, The Hunger Games outdid it.

While Harry started off as a kiddie thing of sorts, it got better and better as the books and movies progressed and as that bespectacled young man grew older; it was one big rise as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, both the book and its two movie adaptations, was the peak of J.K. Rowling’s series.

The Hunger Games didn’t need to get better and better; it started on top as Collins didn’t start the series as a “kid” thing, but got right to Katniss volunteering for her little sister Prim in that annual Super Bowl-like contest that pitted 24 young folks ages 12 to 18 against each other in a fight which the only way to win is to be the only one still alive.

What particularly appealed to me was the fact that Katniss, and subsequently Jennifer Lawrence in her portrayal of her, provided girls – and women for that matter – with something dearly needed in this day and age:

A true hero.

 

“Atlas”, from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack (Best song from any of the Hunger Games movies IMO)

 

And not merely a garden-variety Supergirl/Wonder Woman-type hero with no fallacies either, as time and again Katniss showed herself to be human, with faults and insecurities that all teens have.

She had balls (check out her shooting an arrow through the apple of that pig in front of the Gamemakers in the first book/movie sometime).

Like many adolescent girls, she was a bit confused with regards to matters of the heart as she kept going back and forth between Peeta and Gale as far who she should ultimately commit her heart to.

She wasn’t stoic as she experienced the various tragedies that the Hunger Games and the Rebellion brought, crying at times and suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder that’s common in soldiers involved in combat.

And like I said three years earlier when I wrote a review of the first Hunger Games, her archery skills could give Robin Hood a real battle; so much so that I honestly don’t know who would win if Katniss and that Sherwood Forest archer engaged in a contest.

One thing is for certain – it would be the equivalent of those iconic Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier brawls in the 1970s.

Plus, as I must admit and as I had already mentioned in an article I wrote about a year ago, Jennifer Lawrence is very easy on the eyes.

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) aiming her arrow in the last symbolic shot of the rebellion. Still courtesy of redcarpetrefs.com

 

Plus, as everyone seems to agree with, she is very talented, arguably the most talented actor born in 1990 or later as she already has a Best Actress Oscar, won for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, to her credit.

If she doesn’t win two or three more Oscars – she’s been nominated for three so far – in her career, I’ll be surprised. Jennifer is that good.

And on top of everything else, judging from her interviews in print and on-screen, Jennifer seems to be a very cool, down-to-earth person. Not at all like so many actors and entertainers who not only seem like such divas, they give an aura of such despite their efforts to look down-to-earth in interviews.

Simply put, Jennifer gave those Hunger Games movies the appeal that they gave. I can’t think of anyone else who could have done the same thing.

Much like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games series – both the books and the movies – will appeal to people, both kids and adults, for as long as movies and books exist.

In fact, that’s when you know your movie and book geared toward young people is good – when parents and adults want to read them/see the films as much as the kids.

Which in the case of The Hunger Games definitely fits that bill.

 

 

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Katniss with her battle squad in Mockingjay, Part 2, including Liam Hemsworth (as Gale Hawthorne), 2nd from left, Josh Hutcherson ( as Peeta Mellark), 4th from left, and Sam Claflin (as Finnick Odair), far right. Still courtesy of wegeekgirls.com

 

 

 

 

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THE UPCOMING HOLIDAY SEASON: My Weight and Health Challenges as Thanksgiving and Christmas Approaches

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A Thanksgiving cornucopia with a quote that needs to be remembered. Image courtesy of hdwallpapersos.com

 

HOPING THAT I DON’T EAT TOO MUCH SWEETS, JUNK OR OTHERWISE

 

I suppose for anyone trying and working hard to lose weight, get healthier and stave off conditions like hypertension and diabetes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are by far the biggest challenges to one’s health ambitions.

As for me personally, I’m glad to say that my exercise regimen has not only stayed strong over the past year, it has recently increased as I have added another day of cardio to my weekly routine; I’m now doing some kind of running – either on some kind of machine or running around West Los Angeles College, which is built on a hill – five days a week as opposed to four with a day off.

The challenge I have is this time of year, which actually started on Halloween as I partook in eating a little more candy than I intended and continued doing so for several days.

As well as eat some wonderful egg nog cake.

Which is why although I didn’t get on a scale – and I make it a practice of not doing such as I prefer to go by how loose my clothes feel – I felt that I gained a few pounds over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s my point:

A significant reason I have increased my cardio regimen is so I can better battle the temptations that come with the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with regards to the enormous amounts of delicious food that will be readily available, especially between November 26th and December 25th.

 

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Unless I want my foot/toes to swell up like a Macy’s balloon with extreme ice pick-stabbing pain coming from it, I can’t eat but maybe a teeny tiny amount of this during these upcoming holidays. Photo courtesy of webmd.com

 

While I will be eating a very tiny amount if turkey if at all due to the fact that I have a gout condition and eating turkey causes excruciating pain due to that, plenty of other high-calorie comfort food goodies such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cookies, cakes, and pie, will be abundant.

And with my history of loving to eat, it will not be easy to avoid indulging myself in the bliss that the holiday yummies will bring to my taste buds.

Even though my meat of choice will overwhelmingly be chicken and tofurkey it it’s available, it will be at least a bit difficult not to overindulge in those delectables, too.

Putting it another way:  There’s a reason why gym memberships seem to increase after January 1st.

Perhaps if the only thing available during these upcoming holidays was fruitcake, a food I cannot stand and which I consider the only thing about Christmas that is bad, I would not have any problem with the possibility of overindulging.

In fact, I’d probably lose at least a few pounds.

Since that won’t be the case, however…

This holiday will be a test of sorts, as up until perhaps last year at this time, when I was just a few weeks into my exercise and diet routine, I ate whatever I wanted to more or less my heart’s content.

If I want to maintain whatever fitness level I’ve achieved over the past year and not have my weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol rise, stuffing myself with yummy goodies can’t be an option.

And with God’s help, to not eat too much will be a doable goal.

If there’s anyone out there who has any suggestions of how to not give in to the temptations of over-indulging myself with all those luscious foods this holiday season about significantly damaging my diet regimen, I’m very much open to hearing them.

 

 

Christmas lights in Merrow

Christmas lights in Merrow

Check out this Christmas light display! Photo courtesy of warrenphotographic.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION: What I Think Of The Student/Officer Incident In South Carolina

 

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A truly harsh sight, the girl getting manhandled by Ben Fields. Photo courtesy of complex.com

 

Being an African-American, I am pretty sure that the views I’m about to make will probably upset people, particularly to at least some of my fellow blacks.

I wouldn’t be surprised, after saying what I’m going to say, if I was thought of by some as a “Sellout”.

An “Oreo”(that’s white on the outside, black on the inside for those who don’t know).

Someone who is “Bougie”

Or an (the old standby term) “Uncle Tom”.

But I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s how I really feel…

When I saw that high school girl get roughly grabbed, thrown out of her desk chair, and dragged across the classroom by Ben Fields, a Resource Officer (which, by the way, is just a fancy name for security guard) and assistant football coach at the girl’s Columbia, SC school, the first thought that crossed my mind is one that unfortunately has been crossing my mind for a long time,

That what I saw – the rough treatment of young African-Americans (the girl who was roughed up was black and Fields was white, as we all know) – is nothing new and has been going on for as long as there have blacks of African descent in these United States.

The deaths of unarmed black men by police, the riots that resulted from them, and the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has sprung from these racist incidents have been well-documented;  no need to rehash details or specifics.

However…

There was one specific thing that I just cannot help thinking, a thing that I reckon might result in – to put it politely – being seen as something less than supportive of this issue, but I feel that it must be expressed:

Like more or less everyone else, that video clip of the girl being dumped and dragged across the room was sickening in a shake-my-head kind of way to me.

And of course I was glad at hearing the news that Fields was subsequently fired as a result of his actions. I want to make perfectly clear that I join those in condemning them as I fully and 100% feel that he was wrong.

 

OK, here’s the part of my opinion regarding this incident that some folks may not like:

What Fields did was bad and reprehensible, and he certainly deserved to be relieved of his duties.

But the girl was – and is – not completely blameless, either; she’s not the perfect, innocent angel in this particular instance.

According to what I understand happened, Fields was called into the classroom because the girl was being belligerent and willful in not following directions when her teacher told her to put away her cellphone.

Not to mention being flat-out disrespectful to her teacher, an administrator, and to Fields when she refused to get up to leave the classroom with the resource officer, after the teacher and an administrator both told her to leave the room for her insubordination.

If she had left the room what the teacher asked her to do so – heck, if she had obeyed Fields when he told her to stand up and come with him – none of what went down would have went down.

Do I feel that she deserved what she got?

Absolutely not, but she would have saved everyone an enormous amount of grief if she had adjusted her attitude and done something that I’m sure was taught to her in kindergarten (or should have been): Follow Directions.

Regardless of whether or not she felt she didn’t do anything, as that’s something she and all other young folks need to learn and understand.

I recently saw someone on CNN mention that what the girl did was a case of adolescent wilfulness, something common among practically all teenagers, and that she shouldn’t be treated so harshly for it.

Which I understand and agree with, but feel does NOT excuse her behavior as respect for those in authority – teachers, administrators and security officers in this case – has seemed to be lacking in too many of today’s pre-teens and adolescents for too long.

I should know; in the course of over twenty years of working with young people as a P.E. teacher, a coach, a tutor and an after school counselor, I was given more than my share of disrespect from kids, being cursed at, called names, and having had things like money stolen from me among other incidents.

I don’t mean to ramble on and on; all I’m saying is this:

 

What Fields did was wrong and monstrous, something that not only rightly resulted in his being sacked but should result in an assault charge and a civil lawsuit against him.

But if that girl showed some respect, regardless of her feelings, and followed directions instead of being willful and refusing to leave her seat, this incident would NOT have happened.

She would not have been dumped from her chair.

And she would not have been dragged from that room.

If I were an administrator at that school, I would have certainly supported Fields’ firing, but I would have also given that girl detention for insubordination.

 

If this opinion of mine leads some people into seeing me as an “Uncle Tom”, an “Oreo”, or a “sellout”,

Then all I can say is I’m sorry they feel that way.

 

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Despite the opinions I expressed here, one specifically, I hope that doesn’t lead some to think that I don’t agree with this statement or share in this movement’s goals. Photo courtesy of krmg.com