The Hunger Games: Catching Fire blazed past, burned up, ate through—pick your cheesy play on words—the competition to reach No. 1 at the box office this weekend.
With its intense CGI scenery, almost-cool costumes, sometimes well-written dialogue, and decent actors, Catching Fire is just good enough to keep you interested. The movie felt about five scenes too long. It transparently labored through all of the components in the book that was its source, rather than seeming crafted as a film to entertain. Though I’m sure for the hormonal pre-teen target audience, the plentiful makeout scenes compensate for these shortcomings.
That said, I found the movie irresistible for Emoji Major. I had fun with the last slide of Gravity Major and wanted to play more with emoji-ing dramatic, cinematic landscapes.
The story contains plenty of classic emoji tropes too, including marriage, extreme weather, and weird technology. Also, the title, come on: too obvious, too fun to pass up.
Ensembles always make for fun castings. No, I was not so basic as to make Katniss/Catnip a cat. (See Finnick Odair.) But in an emoji Catching Fire-Friday Night Lights mashup, wouldn't Timmy Riggins totally be Gale? What with their few words and shirtlessnesss and skills in the woods? Both foxes. Peeta looks like a boy who bakes bread.
But it bothers me that The Hunger Games has become such a cultural phenomenon. Sure, the story contains themes of justice, and the promo posters at least put forward the rallying cries "Every Revolution Begins With A Spark" and "Remember Who The Enemy Is" this time. On screen, however, social unrest and the suggestion of starting a revolution really only serve as the foundation on which to build a giant arena for the elaborate death match that's the meat of an action film. Politics kind of melt and disappear into one big chase scene set in a tropical terrarium.
What if someone made an adventure movie about a super badass civil disobedience movement? That movie could have plenty of making out too.
We shouldn’t resort to selling mass murders (in a tropical terrarium) to get our youngsters hyped on fighting tyranny. By spelling out the violence in the cutesy, innocent, sweet, and shiny alphabet of emoji, I hope to highlight this incongruity. I like to think the Sesame Street parody, The Hunger Games: Catching Fur, featuring our favorite furry blue monster as Cookieness Evereat, inspires something of the same.
So this week I put my itty-bitty friends to the test, bringing The Hunger Games to their playing field. Are emoji effective cultural critics? Are their acting skills nuanced enough to let you in on a bad joke? Scroll through the slides above and find out.