Gale had to be the fox, and Peeta had to be the little boy. Rarely have the emoji auditions been so clear. Finnick was easy to cast because the cocky little asshole face on that cat IS him. Plutarch is wearing a mean mask since he's in disguise as a bad guy. Awwww, Mags.

President Snow throws quite the fireworks party to announce the engagement of Katniss and Peeta. But while he's publicly celebrating the young lovers (or the young lovers they play on camera), he shoots Katniss a knowing evil glare. He later tries to convince Plutarch that Katniss needs to be skulled. Plutarch smoothly suggests an alternate plan to sow fear and take Katniss from hero of the people to the "one of us" (The Capitol of Panem) one percent.

Nature is beautiful (and Katniss's knitwear cool) in District 12, which has lots of trees in Katniss's favorite color. She and Gale secretly meet in the woods. He asks melodramatically if she loves him. She insists they run away together into the woods before the evil-eye-giving president kills them.

The police raid the district. In an emoji-made cinematic moment, there really are lots of large white vans. Katniss sticks up for Gale while he's flogged, and then Haymitch has to stick up for Katniss. Eventually they all make it home. While Gale sleeps off his trauma, Katniss and Peeta learn their fate to be sent back to the arena. Katniss actually makes that face.

Countdown! The Hunger Games begin with the players emerging on tiny floating platforms in the water, water, CGI water everywhere.

MONKEY ATTACK! Tons of baboons (the vicious, not the emoji-cute, kind of monkey) attack our heroes while they're hiding in the jungle. Seriously. And then Katniss shoots them with her arrows (the vicious, not the emoji-directional, kind of pointer).

Then the group must escape a poisonous fog cloud that cascades down a mountain and is always magically like three inches behind them while they run, even when they sometimes stop to freak out and make scaredy-cat Finnick faces. The old lady embraces the fog. Peace out Gramma.

Katniss figures out the emoji-friendly secret of the game. The crazy lady muttering "tick tock tick tock" had been onto something, something literal for a blockbuster movie audience. The arena is a clock! The challenges come every hour: lightning, blood rain (or is it blood, rain?), fog, monkeys. I added a couple of bright tropical fish to break up the ever-bleaker scenes and scenario.

The fifth plague arrives. Birds--jabberjays--screeching pleas of help in the voices of Katniss's and Finnick's loved ones... It made me cover MY ears in the theater. I now know I hate jabberjays, though I love how this particular bird emoji, subtle and artful, seems like it's from another set, another planet, from the others.

Katniss shoots an electrically charged arrow up to hit a lightening bolt in order to cut off the power of the Games. Super clutch move. How did she know how to do this? You'd have to read the book.

Katniss dreams of floating through the air and wakes up in a strange vehicle. She's all "what the eff?!" about Haymitch and Plutarch apparently consorting. "This is the revolution," they tell her. And then that there's no more District 12. And then she makes a sad face for a really long time. The end.

Co.Design

Emoji Major No. 16: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire In Emoji

This week, Zoe Mendelson has a Reaping--welcoming emoji Katniss and the other tiny Tributes into the arena.

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. 
 
 
 

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4 Comments

  • Charles

    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.

  • Charles

    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.

  • Charles

    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.