I know you shouldn’t judge an artist based on his Known For section on IMDb, but a look at the selection at Francis Lawrence’s page — now that he is set to direct Catching Fire, the second installment in the Hunger Games series — is a little worrisome:
That’s, um, well … hmm. I actually haven’t seen any of those movies/Britney Spears DVD, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too critical. His work definitely looks great even if the material isn’t, and he does have experience with big-budget movies: I Am Legend was one of 2007’s biggest films, costing $150 million to make and grossing $256 million (a total The Hunger Games, made for $78 million, has already passed; it sits at $341 million domestic after four weeks).
But HG is more than its budget and box office take, and Catching Fire deals with plenty of internal conflict for the lead, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), as well as more run-for-your-life drama and death. Director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) had also been in the running but had scheduling issues, and seeing him take on the dystopian tale would have been interesting; his work is all about character. Director Gary Ross did a fine job with the first film, although at times it felt too slick — the Capital shouldn’t resemble a trip to The Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City — and rushed, especially the finale of the Games and the aftermath.
Here’s hoping Lawrence finds the right balance of keeping the story moving while not sacrificing the chance to give characters depth just to fit more action shots in. Taking on such immensely popular material isn’t easy — Ross and everyone involved with The Hunger Games seemed overwhelmed as they promoted it, and Lawrence’s name already is bouncing around the web with this news — and fans won’t always be pleased. (I’ve kept my nit-picking to myself.) What matters most is telling the best story possible. I wish Lawrence luck on meeting the tight deadlines and high expectations. May the odds, well — you know.