Peeta and Gale Cast in ‘Hunger Games’ Movie

Well, it appears all of our leads have finally been cast for The Hunger Games. Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) will be playing Gale, and Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are Alright) will be playing Peeta.

I’m still not thrilled with the choices for Katniss and Gale, both of whom I think are far too blond and fair, but I think Josh Hutcherson is a great choice for Peeta. He’ll be able to pull off Peeta’s self-deprecating humor,vulnerability, and charm.

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Jennifer Lawrence Is Officially Katniss

Yesterday Lionsgate announced that Jennifer Lawrence is going to be taking on the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Director Gary Ross talked to Entertainment Weekly about the somewhat controversial casting choice:

There’s already quite a bit of hand-wringing that, no matter how good an actress Lawrence is, at 20 she’s simply too old for the role.
First of all, I talked to Suzanne extensively about this. Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen’s age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss. This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can’t have an insubstantial person play her, and we can’t have someone who’s too young to play this. Suzanne was incredibly adamant about this. Far from being too old, she was very concerned that we would cast someone who was too young. In Suzanne’s mind, and in mine, Katniss is not a young girl. It’s important for her to be a young woman. She’s a maternal figure in her family. She’s had to take care of Prim, and in many ways her mother, since her father’s death. She’s had to grow up pretty quickly.

I agree that Katniss does have a certain maturity and responsibility, but she’s also pretty naive and immature when it comes to dealing with other people or her own feelings. She is very good at pushing those feelings away, at not dealing with her feelings so that she can go out and take care or her family or survive the Games. As Peeta says, she doesn’t know the effect she can have. So, can Lawrence pull off both the badass archer and the innocent girl who the Capitol believes acted out of love?

Furthermore, is a younger actress really incapable of portraying the same maturity? Did 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld not show that she was capable of it in True Grit? I just don’t believe that you need an older actress to portray a mature teenage character.

In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blond, caucasian girl?
Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.

So, here we are with a concrete answer as to whether Collins meant for Katniss to be a person of color. Apparently not (or not definitely). Frankly, I’m disappointed because apparently the racial divides in the series are not as important to the author as they are to many readers, and because this casting means that movie Katniss will never match “my” Katniss. This is always an issue when casting a film adaptation of a book, but to cast someone with a round face, pale skin, blond hair and blue eyes when the character is described as having angular features, dark skin and dark hair just means that it will be that much harder for Lawrence to really become Katniss for a lot of fans.

Taylor Lautner To Star In ‘Incarceron’ Movie

Deadline reports today that the film adaptation of Catherine Fisher’s super mega awesome book Incarceron will feature Twilight star Taylor Lautner as the male lead, Finn.

I have such conflicting feelings about this! I absolutely can’t say enough good things about Incarceron. It was so amazing that even though I read it at the beginning of the year, before this blog existed, I want to re-read it just so I can review it for you. The book alternates between Claudia,whose father is the warden for the prison Incarceron, and Finn, who is inside the prison trying to escape. There’s an amazing mix of science fiction and fantasy elements in the book – it takes place in a technologically advanced future that has been designed to imitate the 17th century, and inside Incarceron is a dark and beautiful fantasy world. The book is totally riveting as Claudia and Finn’s stories become intertwined.

The problem here is that Lautner is definitely not the type of actor I’d imagined in the role of Finn. I think the Twilight books and movies are terrible. But I haven’t really seen Lautner in anything else – I may hate Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Twilight, but I’ve seen them in other films and liked them, so I tend to blame the source material. Incarceron doesn’t have a romantic storyline, and as Finn Lautner would need to be believable as a leader who’s questioning his entire history. So the real question is, can Lautner can shed his hunky werewolf image and prove that he can actually act?

And who will be cast in the role of Claudia?

Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do: Why Tangled Is A Feminist Film

So this isn’t strictly a YA-related post, but I saw Tangled this weekend, and I was completely shocked by how much I loved it. So I’m posting about it anyways. Cool? Tangled reminded me of the best parts of the later ’80s/early ’90s Disney movies: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin. And best of all, it had an unexpected feminist message.  The first thing that struck me was how the main villain, Mother Gothel, embodied all of the negative messages girls hear every day.

Spoilers after the cut.

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Catherine Hardwicke To Direct Maze Runner Movie

Illustration by Phillip Straub

I actually just finished the sequel to James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, and I was surprised it hadn’t already been optioned for a movie! It seems like an obvious choice for such an action-packed book which features a bunch of teenagers in a mysterious maze and gooey Blob monsters with Edward Scissorhands appendages. Awesome, right?

Well, apparently it is being made into a film, and Catherine Hardwicke is directing. Hardwicke is the director of Twilight and Thirteen. I’m not a Twilight fan, but I liked Thirteen and some other movies she’s directed, so hopefully this means good things for The Maze Runner!

I’ll be posting a review for the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials, later this week. I’m sorry for the lack of reviews lately, but with Thanksgiving and my crazy work schedule (remember that I work in retail!), I haven’t had much time to write up reviews. I have been reading a lot, though, so there will probably be a deluge of reviews once I get a day or two off!