Monday, 25 November 2013

Voice of Reason #14: Heroines and The Hunger Games

A poster for
 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

If anyone asked me what is Hollywood lacking most right now, I wouldn't leap to saying something like "originality" or "ingenuity" - whilst it true that we, as audiences, are constantly bombarded by unnecessary remakes, I'd pick something else. 

It seems everywhere you look, we're entertained with strong, dashing and brave heroes. Thor, Captain Kirk, Kal-El - everyone loves a tough knight in shining armour right?
Except, these blockbuster all lack one ingredient; an equally strong representation of women.

Cue collective groan. You've heard it all before right? Well guess what, you won't be anymore. Hollywood has just found its leading lady - a strong female heroine akin to Ripley, Sarah Connor or the Bride.

Enter stage right, Katniss Everdeen in this weekend's runaway smash, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Acted wonderfully by global sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss isn't just your typical hero because she's a woman. She's from the same mould as Ripley and Sarah Connor, making her the perfect heroine for this generation.

Jennifer Lawrence is a big draw card for audiences
For a start, she's self-sufficient and independent. Her family is reliant on her to collect food and goods. She's a toughened, capable survivor that isn't born into wealth or well-being. Not only that, but she's family-orientated - love triangles with baker boys and coal miners come a strict second thank you very much. Against a controlling, totalitarian regime, Katniss is the symbol of a revolution, a beacon of hope for the masses. 

What's more is that Katniss does so without the need to draw attention to her femininity. If you cast a cursory glance over past film heroines, you'll notice one thing; the necessity for revealing or tight clothing to show off the actresses assets - Underworld (Kate Beckinsale), Resident Evil (Mila Jovovich), Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie), Elektra (Jennifer Garner), Catwoman (Halle Berry) and to a lesser extent Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are all guilty of this. 
Kate Beckinsale and her skin-tight leather catsuit in
Underworld: Awakening
Possibly the most pleasing thing about her character however is that it resonates with audiences - the sheer popularity of the series is staggering when you think about it. Catching Fire has roared through box offices across the world this weekend, taking in a gigantic haul from audiences. 

In the US, Catching Fire raked in a stonking $70.5m on the opening day, reaching $161.1m by the end of the weekend, obliterating the previous record for highest November opening (Twilight: New Moon) by a full $20m. 

The film now sits at fourth on the list of biggest all-time openings, just behing The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. All in all, the film has made over $300m in under a week. 

There is hope therefore that studio execs will sit up and take note; it seems as though too many studios are against the idea of producing a film headlined by a female star. Catching Fire gives evidence to the contrary, showing that the appetite is there, just as it was in the 80's with the Aliens and Terminator series'. Couple the success of Hunger Games with the popularity of strong female characters like Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) this are looking brighter for kick-ass characters of the fairer sex.

For now, I'll keep my fingers quietly crossed for a Wonder Woman film to materialise, hopefully starring the gorgeous Jaime Alexander in the role. Either that, or a Tomb Raider reboot that has Emma Watson front and centre. With Katniss making waves with audiences, that shouldn't be too much of an ask in the near future...right? Right?

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your opinion is in the comments section below. You can read past opinion columns by following this link: Voice of Reason.

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