by Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Mary HK Choi
Mary HK Choi: Let us make discussion! First Q: did you read the books?
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: I did not! On principle! I was like, “Make it work for me, Lionsgate.”
Mary: RIGHT. Interesting. I did read the books! Second Q: did you read any reviews?
Natasha: NO. Mary, I wanted to love this, love it with my whole big heart I wanted to join a team, a district, pick a teen-lit boyfriend. I DID NONE OF THOSE THINGS. Q for you! Have you seen Battle Royale?
Mary: Of course! Racist.
Mary: Have you read The Lottery?
Natasha: Of course! Racist.
Mary: See, I liked it but that logline thing is a problem — the whole The Lottery meets Battle Royale meets Piggy’s glasses smashed on the floor meets The Running Man.
Natasha: This movie was a total UNDERACHIEVEMENT.
Mary: Right. We kinda can’t go back. We’ve seen Twilight. We’ve seen Potter. We’ve seen Battle Royale. We’ve seen Running Man. What does this add?
Natasha: There were no risks, no daring, and most importantly NO STYLE. Why did this movie look like shit? Why did it look like some failed designer’s portfolio from 1998?
Mary: The costumes are one of my BIGGEST BEEFS!
Natasha: Like, you have the money, find a “Project Runway” winner and get FIERCE.
Mary: TOTALLY. I’m sorry, is like Austin Scarlett x Johnny Weir x The Inhabitants of Fantasia (Neverending Story) the mood board here?!
Natasha: PEETA’S MICHAEL DOUGLAS SUIT AT THE END, A LA WHAM! What was the aesthetic?
Mary: IDK! And why in the first scene where they meet Haymitch in the train cart are they all wearing linen? And SO MUCH Eileen Fisher later! So fucking weird.
Natasha: Woody Harrelson was so dope though.
Mary: Yes. Great hair.
Natasha: I knew the movie was in trouble when we saw the Tribute parade and they showed us NOTHING. No outfits, no personalities of anyone, etc. I don’t need to necessarily care about the children who are murdering children but I would at least like to know what they look like and who they are wearing to the red carpet.
Mary: RIGHT. That is where the movie is far too reliant on the book, the first person perspective and narrative.
Natasha: AND AND AND there’s all this hype about sponsors. “YOU GOTTA GET YOUR SEXY RIGHT FOR THE SPONSORS, KATNISS.” That’s the whole dramatic build and impetus for her special hug with Lenny Krav. But bbbiiissshh, the sponsors had, like, zero to do with the movie! They popped up like twice and it was a bunny fart.
Mary: Here’s the thing: I think it is impossible to like this movie without having read the books.
Natasha: OK, so that’s a problem and a shitty prerequiste. BOO 2 YOU, HUNGER GAME FRANCHISE.
Mary: It’s a HUGE problem.
Natasha: Also, probs the biggest issue is I never got the sense that any one was ever, like… HUNGRY!!!??!!?
Mary: Not feeling the urgency of hunger is another problem.
Natasha: And, sorry, Twilight felt urgent, for no reason, but you were like, YES, YOU TWO SHOULD FUCK BEFORE THE WORLD ENDS!
Mary: Right! YOU BITE HER; YOU BE QUIET.
Mary: I didn’t LOVE this movie. I’ve read the entire trilogy so there are points where I couldn’t remember where this book ended and the next one began but I knew that this shit would be TOO GODDAMNED LONG. It got tired. It’s basically being on the treadmill and not having the towel on top of how much further you have to go.
Mary: More Q: did you know the second she volunteered she would win?
Natasha: Of course!
Mary: That’s another thing that seems jacked to me, if someone who hadn’t read the book knew also (which, it is fairly obvi) then, what are the stakes?
Natasha: See, it’s like, I knew but I was still down to look at hot boys and sexy girls kill each other and feel the intensity of the game — NONE OF WHICH HAPPENED.
Mary: We spent way too much time watching her sleep.
Natasha: SLEEPING IN TREES WITHOUT BOYS — THE KATNISS STORY.
Mary: CAPTAIN SAVE A HOE-ING WEAKLING GIRLS — THE KATNISS STORY.
Natasha: We need to talk about J. Law. I was bored with her half-frozen face 🙁
Mary: Well, here’s the thing, shorty has a weird face and I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated her in the X-Men movie.
Natasha: Why don’t parts of her face move? I don’t think she’s very fun to watch or that interesting? MISS U, FANNING SISTERS.
Mary: There IS a weirdly gummy but dead aspect to her face.
Natasha: Like, I needed a bitch to EMOTE and pretend like her tummy was a little rumbly.
Mary: MO HUNGRY. You know I didn’t get the impression that anyone in that movie was A STAH.
Natasha: PRECISELY. OK, FACE-OFF: Katniss vs. Bella.
Mary: Bella is such a nothing but she does bird shit which becomes interesting. And there are moments of Bella, where K. Stew is putting in work where that neck vein comes through. She has a weird integrity, even though she’s 100% a spaz and doesn’t know what her face is doing.
Natasha: I know that Bella is plain and mad ordinary but with Kattynay it wasn’t even the cool, stoic steez of Winter’s Bone, it’s like insufferably Girl Scout noble and I mean that in the sleeps in trees way.
Mary: Stoic isn’t the way to describe Winter’s Bone exactly to me. She’s fucking pissed off the entire time, she gets that shit is unfair, that everyone is weak and selfish and arbitrarily holding power over her.
Mary: Katniss never really gets mad, she’s STANK, and annoyed and she’s throwing shade and she cries but she’s never FUCKING MAD BEYOND EVERYTHING in a way that is sustained. It’s not the through-line and I fucking expected and needed that.
Natasha: Is it J. Law’s sturdy control over her face or script fault?
Mary: I don’t think the director made the correct decision about who this movie was for. KABLAM!!!
Natasha: BLAM!! Can we talk about the love triangle? SO NOT HOT in comparison to Twi. WHAT A SHITSHOW!
Mary: It’s SUCH a waste of Liam who you just want to climb.
Natasha: Also, TEAM CATO.
Mary: Yo, that’s what Imma start calling scary white kids who rule at life: CAREERS.
Natasha: I wanted to spend more time with him and his gang of piggies.
Mary: YES. Living. Me too, that’s was kinda nuts that he gamed the girl in his own district and that scary chick from Orphan in district 2. That was some lion pride shit. That could’ve been hot.
Natasha: That bro had marketable skills which I would have like revealed to me, shirtless.
Mary: We needed to see Cato’s D’Angelo muscles.
Natasha: In terms of Peeta, not enough smoldering.
Mary: Major Easter Island face. OH AND I CANNOT with that stone-face makeup camouflage scene. SO FUNNY.
Natasha: AND ALSO BOY BAND HAIR?! LIKE AARON CARTER ’97 MTV AWARDS??
Mary: Yoooo! Boy band CIRCA I WANT IT THAT WAY. LOLOLOL you didn’t just Aaron Carter me right now.
Natasha: GURL I AM TAKING U THERE.
Mary: Remember when Aaron Carter dated all the women and by women I mean children?
Natasha: Peeta is AC 2.0, in his cave with his hugs and pouting.
Mary: Peeta was not it. And I feel bad because I get it. I actually liked the character in the book, not to take it back to “Sex and the City,” which I always do, but, like, whatever.
Natasha: ALWAYS bring it back to SATC. That is TEXT.
Mary: But yes: he is some Aiden shit.
Mary: And that’s cool but, like, COME ON, I’m not really tryna murder with Aiden on my team you know?
Mary: You know what tho, I will not lie to your face.
Natasha: Give it to me.
Mary: When Rue dies and then her dad in District 11 (apparently the district that is predominately African-American) goes NUTS I was really into it but I wanted to STAY THERE IN 11.
Natasha: Church. And that scene also made it so clear how much the pressure of those watching in the districts was lacking.
Mary: Yes, I wanted to see them instead of watching someone build a fucking animal on their desktop, like THAT was cool but the tree, the fire, AND that zzzzzzzz.
Natasha: And not to get too meta about it BUUUUUT… I DO NOT TRUST these Hunger Gamers. I DO NOT TRUST THEM AT ALL.
Mary: I don’t even care where this is going because: ❤. Natasha: There was no cheering, no giddy joy, no sex, no fun, just, like this nerdish devotion to BLAH. Even the Harry Potter kids get WIIIIILLLDDD, like WHAT’S UNDER SNAPE’S CAPE and so on. Are there fucking mope instructions in the book?
Mary: I think you’re right, all the missed opportunities to FLEX were squandered, especially since we’re talking YA, which also means some keen-ass world building. The level of how stylized things were, it was VERY Taco Bell in Demolition Man. Surface and nothing we hadn’t seen before.
Natasha: Like, you got your STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER who everyone is always wah-wahing about, you have insanely dark material, you have Woody Harrelson, give me the Fifth Element at LEAST.
Mary: We can’t talk Fifth Element, that shit was GAULTIER, that’s next levs.
Natasha: I know but….
Mary: DON’T BE CRAZY.
Natasha: It was all less.
Mary: One thing though is that I was like, OK FINE BULLY FOR YOU SIR, is that the lack of violence made this a legit YA movie. Like if you were fucking with the books and you are 10-years-old you could watch this and be like, I FEEL SATISFACTION THIS IS CLOSE ENOUGH AND I GET TO SEE IT WITHOUT HAVING TO USE MY IMAGINATION AND THAT IS COOL SOMETIMES.
Natasha: There were too many moments, aesthetically and spiritually, that felt like I was watch a 90s kid action movie.
Mary: Also, you know what? Some of the movie reminded me of being in production for an awards show. It reminded me of being stuck in some control room…
Natasha: Remember the opening of Black Swan? How it’s all shot from the stage and you hear her pattering little swan toes and you can’t see the audience because of the lights?
Mary: Yes and the whole time you think bitch is going to have an aneurism it’s so intense.
Natasha: So intense, and me: and that bitch was JUST DANCIN’. So, why not here? I wish this movie was THE CATO GAMES.
Mary: I did not hate this movie and I actually had few expectations by the end because the marketing was so slick that eventually I got a little bit of side eye but it will make 2034729837492837492374 dollars. And, for the record, each subsequent book is MUCH LESS GOODS, so we’ll see.
Natasha: Do one of the sponsors bring condoms or lube to the island so they ffuuuuuuck?
Mary: Oh, honey. Someone should write a fan-fic movie.
Natasha: Hunger Games 2: SEX ISLAND.