The Hunger Games will be up and running at full speed soon, but until then, here’s a mini-review for all our eager readers. The Hunger Games was a WONDERFUL surprise. I went in knowing nothing at all about the books (I didn’t even know it was a series), and I was pleased to see that a major studio finally, FINALLY got it right. The Hunger Games prove that it is possible to make a serious, intelligent science fiction film targeted to teen audiences without dumbing things down or patronizing the audience.

Not having read the book, I can only comment on this film on it’s own merits. And as a movie, this is a touching, thoughtful, well put together story. Old school sci-fi fans like myself will recognize this for what it is: an intellectual update of The Running Man with a little bit of The Truman Show sprinkled in for emotional effect. And it works.

On a personal note, it heartens me to see so many young women reading and flocking to intelligent entertainment as opposed to the parade of vapid bullshit that popular television tries to force down their throats. The theatre was filled with girls with eyeblack on, discussing their favorite parts of the book and how they hoped they would play out on screen. And not only the moony-eyed “OMG, inorite” conversations I’ve become so jaded with, but intelligent conversations. Conversations that meant something. I was pleased to be privy to them, however briefly. Science fiction, at its best, is not about the fictional science. Not ever. It’s about how the fictional science might possibly impact the human experience, and how humans adjust both themselves and their world to adapt to new and hitherto unimagined circumstances the future may bring.

One of the reasons I have always preferred Star Trek to the flashier, more popular Star Wars is that, way back in 1964, Gene Roddenberry realized something crucial to good science fiction and wove it into the core of Star Trek, something that has continued to elude Lucas and his gang for some 40 odd years. That simple thing was this: gadgets and effects don’t make good sci-fi. People do. It must always, always be about people. And using that yardstick to measure The Hunger Games, I find that it surpasses its Running Man action movie origins without betraying or abandoning the core premise and necessary brutality of those origins. It not only was intelligent of itself, but sparked intelligent discourse in the audience. I was witness to how it inspired meaningful criticism in kids and adults alike. And that, by my measure, is the definition of good sci-fi. Go see it. Let it make you think about new things, if only for a little while. It is well worth your time.

A solid 8 out of 10. Well done.


Heading to my parents’ for some tornado clean up. I think I’m gonna go 100% Sean Penn and put on old boots and carry a rifle around down there like he did post-Katrina. Because if there is one thing a cleanup effort needs, it’s a jackass with a loaded weapon who has no clue what he’s doing and desperately wants attention.

Going out there and seeing the damage to people nearby was sobering. Houses and enormous trees that have been there all my life were just gone. There were fires that took up whole lawns where all the owners and emergency workers could do to get rid of trees and debris was burn it. It’s three days later and there are still plenty of fires burning. Seeing pictures of the damage on the papers and TV is sterile and tells you nothing. It gives you no “before” picture. It cannot possibly convey the emotional impact of seeing things you’ve known for thirty years lying shattered by a tornado in two minutes. I didn’t understand how extensive the devastation was until I was down there, driving roads I’ve been on since I was four years old, and experiencing the alien feeling of wrongness that comes from being on familiar landscape while familiar, expected landmarks are wrecked, or worse, absent entirely.

I went down there intending to bring back pictures. But after being in it and driving past these splintered homes, the idea of taking pictures of people out in their yards trying to salvage little pieces of their lives felt petty and invasive and callous. There was a WCPO van parked in the driveway of, of course, one of the most visibly damaged homes, taking pictures from a tower camera. It pissed me off instantly. It felt like heartless voyeurism at it’s most disgusting. So, no, I didn’t take any pics, nor will I. I felt ashamed I had even considered it. But if you want a picture, try this: going down the road I grew up on I passed a hillside full of trees, flattened all in one direction save a few trees here and there that had inexplicably been spared. I have never seen something so close to my home that bespoke such energy and power unleashed, and it was, in the very oldest and direst definition of the word, awesome. Google the first word that popped in my head when I saw this: “Tunguska.” That should give you all the pics you need.