The Grey, The Hunger Games & Struggling to Survive

Apparently, I’m an idiot for not staying after the credits to see the extra scene at the end of the Liam Neeson survival film, “The Grey”.  Although, as John and I both felt, the very fact that everything was left unresolved made for a very impactful end; one that made you have to think for yourself. God forbid.

As long as we’re on the subject of this film, I do want to point out that it is not a typical action thriller. Even though Liam Neeson is so bad-ass that he makes bad-ass cower in the corner, there is a heavy philosophical undertone that is not typically Hollywood. The film is based on the short story (ya’ see short story writers – it’s not just novels that rule the world!) “Ghost Walker” that one of the screenwriters, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers wrote. The story truly makes you consider life, death, and how we choose to fight for our right to exist. Heavy man. Definitely not typical Hollywood. I worry about this film’s prospects though, as it was marketed to appeal more to the Action/Thriller crowd. “Hey dudes, how about a nice exciting film about the underlying layers to the meaning of life with intense metaphysical takes on death? Then we can grab a couple brewskys and shoot some pool after.” Hmmm…

I am also currently reading the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, “Mockingjay”. Hey – we’ve been through this before – I get around to stuff when I’m ready, not necessarily when everyone else is obsessing over it. The fact that I made it to a film on opening night for the first time since “Return of the King” is about all I can handle in the being-up-to-date department. Which reminds me – less than 11 shopping months before The Hobbit opens!

Okay, I’m back. For those of you woefully behind the bestseller times – such as myself – The Hunger Games is a YA dystopian trilogy that is going to emerge  in theatres soon. I think they may be trying to turn this franchise into the next Twilight phenomena. God help us – they’d better not ruin it. They have an excellent actress playing the lead (Jennifer Lawrence) and the author (Suzanne Collins) is contributing as a screenwriter. We may be safe.

The books are excellent. Suzanne Collins has said in several interviews that she doesn’t write about adolescents; she writes about what war does to adolescents. The central theme to these books is very much one of survival; again, fighting for one’s right to exist, to stave off death. The choices that each individual makes are not only the difference between you surviving, but another person dying.

The similarities in theme between both The Grey and The Hunger Games cannot be denied. Neither Hero/Heroine of these stories is magically endowed with awesomeness, they are not super heroes. They are everyday people with checkered, difficult pasts that exist in challenging and depressing circumstances that find themselves tested to their limits. Neither of these characters give in. They fight, not only against the odds thrust at them, but against their own personal doubts about the sanctity of their own lives. Can I hear another “heavy man” from the audience?

Yet, these are not depressing stories at all. Hard to believe, right? Yes, they do make you think because they are not cardboard stereotypical beautiful or magic people. They inspire because they are so relatable.  You feel if they can transcend these outrageous circumstances, than you can probably get it together enough to pay your utility bill on time this month. Because seriously, if Batman gets pummelled by Ra’s al Ghul, there’s no way that I can possibly be expected to achieve much with my limited skills. I told you Liam Neeson was bad-ass. 

I like that the characters in The Grey and The Hunger Games are real. It gives me hope.

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