Family Movies News

'Catching Fire’ Villain Is Just the Right Amount of Evil

Give me a movie villain like President Snow any day. 
 
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s dictator rules Panem with such cruel, Machiavellian tactics that no citizen dares to breathe a word of rebellion. President Snow is formidable, but not admirable – after all, his number-one enemy is a teenage girl who consistently outwits him.
 
At a screening of Thor: The Dark World, a teen girl posed the question to me: Tom Hiddleston or Chris Hemsworth? Um, Chris Hemsworth – no question, right? The face, the body, the sheer manliness. 
 
Oh no, she told me: Wiry, almost feminine Hiddleston holds a big appeal among girls – he’s clever, sophisticated and funny. As I watched the film, I realized Loki is the new breed of movie villain. Loki is charming, clever and repeatedly outsmarts his opponents… even Thor. 
 
President Snow is a throwback to villains of yore because today’s movie bad guys are in a state of reinvention. Today’s scoundrels are cooler, shrewder and sometimes smarter than the movie’s hero: [Spoilers] Bane literally breaks Batman, Star Trek’s Khan blows up the London offices of Section 31, Silva outplays Bond and MI-6, and Loki is able to fool Thor. 
 
The audience may not like them, but can’t help but respect the genius of their brilliantly twisted plots. Moreover, they're given heartbreaking backstories that explain their corruption, like when M left a poisoned Silva rotting in jail or Joker’s tragic (and possibly fictional) stories of child abuse and the disfigurement of his wife by the mob. Making the audience feel compassion for and understand the bad guy’s point of view is great storytelling, but as a parent, I worry when the villains become sympathetic. President Snow may be cunning but he is not cool, and for that, I’m grateful.
 
Here are three movies to see with your family this weekend:
 
 
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta are forced to play another round of the lethal games, but the movie’s emphasis is on the psychological impact on the tributes. Most of the deaths occur off camera, sometimes off scene, so I think it’s okay for most kids in sixth grade or older. 
 
Free Birds. Talking turkeys find a time machine and do the logical thing: return to the first Thanksgiving to make sure turkeys don’t become part of the traditional feast. 
 
The Christmas Candle. Sure, Thanksgiving isn’t quite here yet but is it ever too early to get into the Christmas spirit? For families who enjoy a good Hallmark movie, the story is about a preacher who doesn’t believe in miracles who moves to a town built on the belief in miracles.
 
How do kids rate these movies? Go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com where all kids are movie critics.
 
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