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The Hunger Games


Lionsgate CEO says more Twilight, Hunger Games coming soon

Vampires never say die!
Aug 10
// Rick Lash
Jon Feltheimer, formerly known as the CEO of Lionsgate, now known as the man who made teenage dreams come true, told Wall Street investors that there is no way his studio won't make more Twilight movies about angsty teenage v...

First look Alicia Vikander as new Lara Croft, Tomb Raider

Mar 27
// Rick Lash
It's been a long time and many children later since Angelina Jolie donned the tank top and short shorts of Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider. So, needless to say, we are owed, nay due a remake, or a reboot, or a relaunch, or someth...

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Nov 20 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219544:42428:0[/embed] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2Director: Francis LawrenceRelease Date: November 20, 2015Rating: PG-13 "Whoa. Philip Seymour Hoffman." Not having prepared for the film in any way, I had completely forgotten that Mockingjay marked the actor's final performance. More than a year and a half after he died, he's onscreen again. And it's weird. Really, really weird. When he first showed up, moments into the film, the person I was sitting next to turned: "Is he real?" The answer to the question – "No" – is simple, but the implications of that answer are a little more complicated. It was decided pretty much immediately that there would be no CGI Philip Seymour Hoffman walking around, monologuing in place of the actor. It's a sign of respect, and it's one that I commend the team for doing. I'm sure the pressure to digitize him was fairly high, because his absence is felt rather heavily. Plutarch Heavensbee (ugh) is an important character to the plot, someone always lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings. But not in Mockingjay - Part 2. Here, he simply is a shadow. The film cries out for his presence, and a scene late in the film was switched up in a way that is functional but also fairly awkward. Hoffman's death complicated things, as such things so often do. That's actually a good way to describe Mockingjay - Part 2: complicated. It's complicated because it's the second part of a movie that didn't need to be two parts. These two (good) 2+ hour films could have been turned into one great three hour one. Heck, you could probably go shorter, because fully half of Part 2's runtime is taken up by scenes that aren't "bad" but also don't really do much. There's a lot of sitting around and talking, or walking around and talking, or running around and talking. The pacing is molasses slow, and ultimately a film that is only a bit over two hours (with 10-15 minutes of credits on top) feels nearly double that. This is honestly felt like one of the longest films I have ever seen, because so much time is spent on a series of very different things, but they're presented in such a way that it seems like the movie is just going to go on forever. And it does, sort of. A lot of it builds to a few different things, and though they all ultimately come to pass, it feels like they were glossed over to make way for less interesting things.  Which isn't to say that the film is boring, because it's not. It's just slow. And though it ratchets up tension at various points with interesting and strange (and kinda horrific) setpieces, the momentum doesn't continue to build. After the sequence, it just stops. And so, bizarrely, it actually feels like there are multiple films worth of narrative here that have been stripped down. It's almost episodic, with a "beginning," middle, and end for each of the different plotlines. But a lot of those episodes are just filler, and the ones that aren't could have easily been much shorter. As the second part in a two-part film, discussing specifics seems even less important than usual. You decided whether or not you were going to see this movie as soon as the credits in Mockingjay - Part 1 rolled. If you saw that cliffhanger and needed to know what happens to Katniss, Peeta, Snow, and everyone else, then you're hooked and you'll see this movie no matter what. And if you decided you didn't care? I'm not going to change your mind, because this movie isn't either. There's nothing about the narrative here that is going to appeal to anyone who didn't like the first three movies or didn't want to see what's next. I'm here not really to tell you if the movie is good, because ultimately that doesn't matter. I'm just here to think about what the experience of seeing it's like. And it boils down to this: Exhausting or not, I liked Mockingjay - Part 2. As a fan of the earlier films, I feel relatively satisfied. It's worth it to see where these characters end up and see who they are underneath it all. Some of the characters are given weird motivations that I didn't totally understand and others grew in interesting ways. But at least it all ended. After two years of cliffhangers, it was nice to get see credits set by something other than a close-up of Katniss's stressed-out face. The actual ending made me groan out loud for four solid minutes, but at this point I just wanted to know. And I got my answers. I don't need anything more from The Hunger Games. I can go on and live my life and never think about it again. I can wish that a tighter and more cohesive film ended the franchise, but why? We've got an ending, it did what it had to do, did it competently, and now it's done. Goodbye, Hunger Games. It's been fun.
Mockingjay Part 2 Review photo
The end of time
I didn't read The Hunger Games or its sequels. When the first film came to theaters, I had heard a whole lot of people talking about the books, but I didn't know anything beyond the "It's pretty much Battle Royale" premi...

Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer photo
Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer

Newest Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 trailer is astoundingly bad

Sep 16
// Nick Valdez
I've been looking forward to the final Hunger Games film since I liked Mockingjay - Part 1 more so than everyone else, apparently. The second half of Mockingjay (before its terrible ending) is much better than the first, but ...


New Mockingjay trailer teases all-out war

Jul 23
// Matt Liparota
The first big Mockingjay trailer debuted last month at Comic-Con, but now the rest of us plebs get to scope it out too. Our biggest glimpse yet at the franchise's big finale (well, until they convince Suzanne Collins to write...
Mockingjay Part 2 photo
Mockingjay Part 2

Comic-Con teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is red all over

We are a part of the rhythm nation
Jul 10
// Nick Valdez
I've been all for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay's advertising since the beginning. Part 1 had a anti-propaganda take, and Part 2 follows the same route. Although we'll eventually get regular trailers and teasers soon, they'll ...
Hunger Games  photo
Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.
Last week we saw a beautiful poster for the fourth and final instalment of the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay - Part 2. Now we have the first trailer, and it promises tons of action and confrontations, as Katniss Everdeen...

The Hungriest Game photo
The Hungriest Game

New poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Slick and minimalistic anarchy!
Jun 02
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
The second poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 was released yesterday, featuring a destroyed statue of Mr. Douche - President Snow - himself, and a bright red Mockingjay-symbol (spray-)painted onto the background...
Mockingjay Teaser photo
Come on baby, light my fire
If you go see Insurgent this weekend you'll get a bit of a treat beforehand thanks to the first teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Or, if you don't want to go see Insurgent, you can just watch it at EW now. ...

Nick's Top 10 Movie Music Moments of 2014

Jan 14 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Birdman - Flight scene, Snowpiercer - "What happens if the engine stops?," The Skeleton Twins - "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," 22 Jump Street - "Ass-n-Titties," Into the Woods - "Agony" [embed]218773:42129:0[/embed] 10. The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part 1 - "The Hanging Tree" as performed by Jennifer Lawrence Every year there seems to be a song that's meant to break into mainstream pop. Usually by happenstance, or some kind of weird popularity spike, and "The Hanging Tree" is 2014's single. Written by the Lumineers (with influence from the original text), and given an odd dance backing so it can be played on the radio, this moment may have been forced but it did show off the first actual rebellion against the Capitol. Like other parts of Mockingjay - Part 1, the scene finally opens up the world beyond Katniss and her compatriots.  [embed]218773:42130:0[/embed] 9. The Lego Movie - "Everything is Awesome/(Untitled) Self Portrait"  "Everything is awesome, everything is cool when your part of a team" was 2014's "Let It Go." There's a dollar theater in my town next to the local grocery, and when I first heard a little girl singing that song, I knew we had a winner. The scene it's used in doesn't hit perfect status until the "12 Hours Later" bit but it's still very good. Even better? Batman's demo tape, "DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!" [embed]218773:42132:0[/embed] 8. Guardians of the Galaxy - "Come And Get Your Love"  As critics like myself (although I'd like to think I'm as far from that definition as possible) continue to worry over the staleness of Marvel's films, the intro to Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a nonchalantly groovin Chris Pratt dancing to a once forgotten Redbone tune, helps alleviate some of that worry. Starting off on the right foot, this scene helped set the tone for Marvel's future. It's going to be a lot more fun.  [embed]218773:42134:0[/embed] 7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - "Elevator Beatbox"  You won't see the TMNT movie on many Best of 2014 lists, but I've got to credit where it's due. It may have be clouded by a bunch of odd decisions, but the Turtles themselves were great. Although they looked like giant steroid hulks, the few times they got to act like their "Teenage" namesake truly stood out. This came to a head in the elevator ride before the final battle with Shredder. It's the most fun scene in this film, and it's completely unnecessary when you think about it. But it's full of so much personality it's hard to care. I want the sequel to basically be this scene x 100.  [embed]218773:42133:0[/embed] 6. The Guest - "Anthonio" The Guest has one of the best soundtracks of 2014. Fusing synth pop and trance together with little known European Pop remixes, and coupling them with a nostalgic run through the horror genre lead to one of the best musically inclined films of the year. The Guest owes most of its successes to its soundtrack and it's never better than the final scene. A stare down, a remix of Annie's "Anthonio," and a sinister Dan Stevens are a match made in heaven.  [embed]218773:42135:0[/embed] 5. The Book of Life - "Just A Friend/The Apology Song/I Will Wait" as performed by Diego Luna, Cheech Marin, and Gabriel Iglesias I think The Book of Life'll be the only time I hear Tejano-inspired music in film and that's a bit sad. Like me, it takes influences from classic pop tunes and unapologetically puts a little Mexican flair into each one. There's too many awesome songs to name (but the one touted as the "big" one, where Diego Luna performs a cover of "Creep," is kind of lame) with the too brief "Just a Friend," and the great "Apology Song" sung to a flaming skeletal bull in the Land of the Forgotten, but my favorite is definitely the montage set to "I Will Wait." It's hilarious, critiques Mexican culture, and it just sounds so pleasant.  [embed]218773:42137:0[/embed] 4. The Interview - "Firework" as performed by Jenny Lane Although the clip above doesn't refer to the scene on this list (as it's much better to experience it without being spoiled), trust me when I say that it's truly a great movie music moment. The scene that launched a thousand emails, and was most likely toned down in retrospect, but it's a damn fun scene. Much like the rest of The Interview, it makes sense in the most absurd way. Hope you get to see it for yourself.  [embed]218773:42138:0[/embed] 3. X-Men: Days of Future Past - "Time in a Bottle" With as many comic book films I see now, they all start to blend in together after awhile. What woke me up from my haze, however, was Days of Future Past. While the rest of the film followed the same beats, and Quicksilver himself wasn't the most interesting addition, I've never seen a better demonstration of super speed. Sure we've seen this type of slowdown in films like The Matrix, but I can't recall seeing it used so humorously. It's the little touches that made everything work.  [embed]218773:42136:0[/embed] 2. Frank - "Secure the Galactic Perimeter/I Love You All" as performed by Michael Fassbender Frank is a film about twelve people saw, and that's a damn shame. It's got some of the best music from 2014. The songs were notably assembled by the cast (and not even available in full on the soundtrack) and they're just so weird. Good weird. While the final song "I Love You All" gets the full bump on this list, it doesn't really mesh as well as it should until you've seen the film. Once you've seen the film, learned of all of Frank's quibbles, then it truly comes together.  [embed]218773:42139:0[/embed] 1. Whiplash - "Caravan" as performed by Miles Teller God, Whiplash has the best f**king music. That finale? So gooooooooooooooood. What are your favorite music moments of 2014? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! Stay tuned through the rest of the week for more "Best Of" lists! 
Nick's Top 10 Music photo
Music to my eyes
Music plays an integral role in film. Easily ignored, easily forgotten, a film's soundtrack is the little celebrated framework of cinema. But when sound and sight marry into a great scene, you get some of the best moments. Li...

Nick's Top 5 Sequels of 2014

Jan 13 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Raid 2: Berandal, Captain America: The Winter Soldier [embed]218787:42123:0[/embed] 5.  X-Men: Days of Future Past The X-Men series was in quite the pickle. As the seventh film in the ailing series, it had quite a bit to prove. Doing something I've never seen before, DoFP went and actively rebooted (as in, made "rebooting" a key plot to the newest film) the series in order to fix all of the issues fans have had with it. Not only pleasing comic book fans, but even casual moviegoers as it brought back all of the headliners and never once felt like the confusing mess it could have been. An interesting, and most importantly, successful experiment that showed off what comic book movies could truly be capable of.  Read our review of X-Men: Days of Future Past here. [embed]218787:42124:0[/embed] 4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 The Hunger Games films have been steadily getting better at handling their themes, and it came to fruition with Part 1. Finally capitalizing on the promise of the series, Part 1 introduced many teenage movie fans to conflicting political ideologies, smaller facets of yellow journalism, and all while having the confidence to talk about things a bit. There hasn't been any room in the series for conversation thus far, and that's weird considering the books are nothing but Katniss talking to herself. This was a sequel that was willing to breathe for a bit and wallow in the messed up situation they're in. It's definitely the first film in which the Capitol seemed like an actual threat.  Read our review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 here. [embed]218787:42125:0[/embed] 3. 22 Jump Street Comedy sequels are a dime or dozen. For every 22 Jump Street we got in 2014, we also got Dumb and Dumber To, Horrible Bosses 2, and A Haunted House 2. While those lesser films tried to recreate the film that got them there, 22 Jump Street did that and made fun of themselves while doing it. Not once did they lie to their audience and say that the sequel was made for something other than money, or that it should exist at all. It was like saying "Hey we're doing this, so let's all just have some fun!" and that's all I could ever want from a sequel, really.  And those title cards during the credits? Perfection.  Read our review of 22 Jump Street here. [embed]218787:42126:0[/embed] 2. The Purge: Anarchy You know what makes a good sequel? Take a film that I wasn't interested in before and completely reinvent the wheel to make it far more entertaining. By changing the direction of the series, from house invader horror to cheesy action thriller, adding Frank Grillo, and throwing a fine layer of hamfisted sociopolitical messages, you've got the best Grillo'd Cheese sandwich. For the first time in a long time, I find myself a lot more interested in annual sequels. Give me one every year this interesting, and I'll never speak ill will toward #CrimeDay again.  Read our review of The Purge: Anarchy here. [embed]218787:42127:0[/embed] 1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes "Apes. Together. Awesome" was the subtitle I used for my Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review, and it's still one of my favorite things I've ever written. Dawn also happens to be my favorite movie of the Summer. It was thrilling, had several nice action bits, and looked amazing. Fixed most of the issues I had with Rise, and brought more Ape on Ape action. I ended up shouting "APEEEEEEEES" for several days after. I do not hate every ape I see, from chimpan-a to chimpanzee.  Hope the next film has Dr. Zaius. Read our review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes here.  What are your favorite sequels of 2014? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! Stay tuned through the rest of the week for more "Best Of" lists! 
Nick's Top 5 Sequels photo
Sequelitis schmequelitis
We've seen more sequels released the last few years than we have in a long time. While 2015 seems to continue that trend, last year showed that we shouldn't automatically write off a film just because it's a sequel. I've seen...

Mockingjay Part 1  photo
Mockingjay Part 1

Here's that great Hanging Tree song from Mockingjay- Part 1

Nov 26
// Nick Valdez
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 was pretty good. It's the best in a rough series and stands out due to some great decisions. But one of the clunkier ones was "The Hanging Tree." A song featured in the book, it was...

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Nov 21 // Nick Valdez
[embed]218609:41995:0[/embed] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1Directors: Francis LawrenceRelease Date: November 21st, 2014 Rating: PG-13 Based off some of Suzanne Collins' novel of the same name (to say where the cutoff point is would spoil it, sorry), Part 1 follows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) just a short time after the events of Catching Fire (and for those oddly just joining, there's a quick recap which is something I truly appreciate). As District 13's President Coin (Julianne Moore) wants to film propaganda to turn Katniss into a symbol of the coming war with the Capitol (the titular "Mockingjay"), Katniss realizes President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has been keeping Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) alive in order to send her messages. As she discovers what kind of toll the war with the Capitol has taken on the Districts (as instability reaches a fever pitch), she has to decide whether or not she wants to move forward with the fight. Also some guy named Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is there, but he still refuses to do anything notable.  To be honest, I rolled my eyes when I first heard the final book would be split into two films. When you read the book itself there doesn't seem to be enough content to necessitate the split as the second half is really just one extended action sequence. I feared we'd get another Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows situation where one half is clearly superior to the other. With Part 1 my fears haven't been completely alleviated, but I don't really care. Part 1 is damn entertaining. Fixing a lot of the series' hokier elements, and finally exploring the nature of its dystopia, Part 1 is just a massive improvement all around.  For example, the tone is handled much better than before. In the first two films, the tone fluctuated rapidly It came across as comedic at times during inappropriate moments as the love triangle was forced into the forefront, or when death fights felt less threatening because Katniss was more of a superhuman than not. But there's no room for that here. While the darker tone might be a slight turn off (it's unfortunately overbearing at times as there's no ease, unless you count that one forced moment of Katniss singing by a lake), it gives weight to the world. Katniss is finally in some sort of danger and less in control than ever. And with that powerless direction, Jennifer Lawrence at last has something to work with as she's less wooden here in Part 1 than ever.  Anchoring a set of actors who've found their groove, Lawrence delivers on her initial promise. As Katniss emotes for the first time in the entire series, Lawrence makes sure to nail each opportunity. For example when Katniss delivers her speech to the Capitol after some violent events in District 8, I had a huge smile on my face. I don't know how I became so involved in a scene with such a funky set up (and it's even more egregious in text form), but with every crack in her voice, every boom, Lawrence reels you in. And the rest of the cast is no slouch either as the freedom of the new premise (we're no longer trapped in the "put on a show/fight in the games" setup of the first two films) gives every character but Gale something to do. Josh Hutcherson's physicality is finally put to some use (he's no longer lying on the ground all the time), Julianne Moore is a bit stiff but it works for her character, and Philip Seymour Hoffman's going to be truly missed as his Plutarch steals the show. Unfortunately, Part 1 isn't without its faults. Like most films of its ilk, it still falls into the same genre trappings as before (there's still a weird love triangle that feels more out of place than before, Katniss is more of an "It" Girl than ever). It's like a two steps forward, one step back situation. The film also has an odd pace issue which must be a result of splitting the story in two. A lot of the scenes feel like they're meant for some sort of Director's Cut as they're extended far beyond their welcome. That's not to say I didn't enjoy most of these scenes, but some of those longer scenes could be a deal breaker. It completely relies on emotional investment, so I could definitely see someone fighting with boredom by its end.  After my screening, I overheard a conversation between two women and it almost made me second guess myself. As the woman told her friend, "Nothing happened in that movie," I realized exactly how someone could see it that way. You have to know what you're getting into when a film has "Part 1" in its title. When broken down to the essential beats, Mockingjay - Part 1 is all setup for the final film in the series. But what I want you to understand is that it's damn good setup. Sure it's setting plot points for a later date, but there's also an arc (as the series finally elaborates on the meaning of imagery in its world) that's wonderfully realized here as well.  For once in this series, I truly want to see what's coming next instead of going through the motions because I've read the books.  The ultimate goal of the first part of a two part film is to make the audience anticipate the second half while still feeling like a complete film in its own right. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 accomplishes that and then some (At some points it's even better than the source material). I hope Part 2 can keep this momentum.
Mockingjay Part 1 Review photo
Smoke, she is a rising fire
The Hunger Games has come a long way. From humble meh-ish beginnings, to a sequel that, well, caught fire in theaters, the films have gotten increasingly better the more comfortable everyone gets with the material. Going into...

Mockingjay Trailer photo
Yeah we got that fire, fire, fire
With the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the awesome marketing this film has had comes to a close. From great propaganda style teasers and posters, to how few trailers for the film we actually got (usu...

Hungah Games photo
Hungah Games

Here's Lorde's Hunger Games: Mockingjay single "Yellow Flicker Beat"

"Red, orange, yellow flicker beat sparking up my heart"
Oct 02
// Nick Valdez
Although she's been a great contributor on the Hunger Games films soundtracks, Lorde has never got the headlining spot (that honor went to Taylor Swift's "Safe & Sound" for the first film and Coldplay's "Atlas" for Catch...
Mockingjay poster photo
Mockingjay poster

Katniss gives good back in this Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 poster

Sep 04
// Nick Valdez
She's just a girl, but she's on fire. November 21st can't come soon enough. 
Mockingjay posters photo
Mockingjay posters

Here are some rebel character posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Aug 28
// Nick Valdez
So these posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (out November 21st) are neat as they finally show off Cressida (who manages all the propaganda in the book), but I DON'T KNOW WHO THE REST OF THESE PEOPLE ARE. Enjoy!  [via Wired]
Mockingjay posters photo
Mockingjay posters

District 13 character posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Aug 07
// Nick Valdez
Have you been enjoying The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1's minimalist advertising campaign so far? I definitely am, but it seems like the uniqueness is done with. Now that we've gotten our first proper teaser, we're proba...
Hunger Games Teaser photo
This girl's still on fire
I'm loving the advertising campaign for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 so far. Continuing on with the minimalist teasers is the Comic-Con trailer which contains the first actual footage from the film. Not much is said...

Mockingjay Teaser 2 photo
Mockingjay Teaser 2

Second The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 teaser keeps the propaganda going

Jul 10
// Nick Valdez
Continuing on with the awesome propaganda-like campaign, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 gives us another President Snow address. This time, however. He's joined by several surprising guests. Once again, this is both a...
The Hunger Games photo
Get it? Cool? Hot? Anybody?
Rather than go for the conventional teaser trailer that we run on the site everyday, our first look at The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is much better than I expected. A unique twist on the viral propaganda campaign the...

Hungah Games photo
Hungah Games

Check out these slick Hunger Games propaganda posters

More like The Hunk Games
Jun 23
// Nick Valdez
Although we've been particularly focused on another set of sequels lately, to remind everyone that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part I releases later this year, we have a set of super slick propaganda posters featuring "The ...
Hungah Games photo
Hungah Games

First images of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Mock - yeah - ing - yeah - bird
May 16
// Nick Valdez
I've been a little hesitant toward the next film in the Hunger Games series ever since it was announced Mockingjay would be split into two parts. Mockingjay is my favorite in the trilogy (the first half anyway, go figure...
New Releases photo
New Releases

New Releases, week of 3/8/14: The Hunger Edition

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 12 Years A Slave, The Grandmaster and more on home video
Mar 05
// Nick Valdez
It's another good week of home video releases as the Best Picture winner, 12 Years A Slave finally hits. Along with that we have the best part of The Hunger Games saga, Catching Fire, Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, and if al...
Mockingjay poster photo
Mockingjay poster

First Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I poster is on fire

Mock. Yeah. Ing. Yeah. Bird. Yeah
Jan 23
// Nick Valdez
It feels like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out just yesterday. With the final book in the series, Mockingjay, being split into two parts, expect one final push for The Hunger Games. Although The Hunger Games: Moc...

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Nov 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]216866:40946:0[/embed] The Hunger Games: Catching FireDirector: Francis LawrenceRated: PG-13Release Date: November 22, 2013 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes place shortly after the events of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) begin their Victory Tour, a ceremony across the twelve districts of Panem after their victory at the 74th Hunger Games. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) fears that Panem will go through an uprising, so he tries to get rid of Katniss by throwing her into the 75th Hunger Games (or the Quarter Quell) with 23 other previous winners. If that sounds like, pardon the pun, malarkey to you because you've just joined the series, there's no setup to help ease you in. So Catching Fire won't win any new fans that haven't invested the time, unfortunately. While there are multiple mentions of the events of the previous film shoehorned into the dialogue, you'll be hit with so much jargon and kooky names (and at such a fast pace), that it'll seem like buzzing noises for the most part. That jargon won't bother fans, however. And thankfully most of it stops halfway into the film when it gets to the actual games.  One of the biggest problems with the original film, for old and new fans alike, was how the time spent building up to the actual Hunger Games themselves was used shoddily building character. Since the Katniss in the novel version is so methodical and hardly speaks, it became a detriment to the visual version when everyone would just speak AT Jennifer Lawrence while she put on her best Grumpy McGrumpterton face. Thankfully, given the darker turn for series (Katniss' life is directly threatened at all times), Lawrence is given more to do than stoneface into the distance. And when Lawrence is given more to do, the rest of the setup comes together.  Rather than have everyone in the film sort of stumble around with melancholy (therefore making it dreadfully boring to watch when not executed well), the greater part of the film is dedicated to revealing the political struggles in Panem thanks to Katniss' action in the Games. During their Victory Tour we're allowed to see most of the other Districts in some kind of anguish using Katniss as a sort of symbol. Catching Fire finally Capitol-izes on the sociological criticism promised in the first film. In the same breath, however, that stuff isn't given enough screen time (something has to be saved for the next two sequels, I suppose). As the sequel chooses to focus more on Katniss' relationships than on her world (as most of the rebellions happen outside of Katniss' singular vision), the film runs into some unsuspected problems.  With so much focus on Katniss, it sheds a light on how terrible her love interests are. While Josh Hutcherson as Peeta emotionally gets more room to play around, it turns out he's really bad at it. Every time Hutcherson speaks, there's a wooden quality to it that's not much different from when Peeta's supposed to be faking his romance with Katniss. It becomes such a problem when a scene is meant to play out romantically instead feels forced or cornball when you can count on your fingers the five second pauses in between everyone's lines. And Liam Hemsworth as Gale? He's just a guy who says one thing, then something violent happens to him, and then does nothing again. Neither of the main males do anything for this "love triangle" that's being pushed here.  Now to finally get to why you're all here. How does the film look? Pretty damn swell. Compared to shaky action of the first film, Catching Fire does a far better job presenting action scenes. The actual games are a beauty to behold with an arena that's gorgeous (although the jungle setting could've used more vibrant colors in this drab greyish blob of a movie). There are also some impressive shots, with one crane shot in particular (both in the technical and physical sense, you'll see what I mean) looking absolutely gorgeous as Lawrence goes through a bevy of emotions. There are more than a few needless close ups of Lawrence crying but, for the most part, it all works. The only unfortunate stickler seems to be a wavering when trying to view something from far away. It's like the cameraman couldn't find quite exactly what he's supposed to be pointing at during certain scenes.  Although the film could use more color, at least it's mostly acted well. Other than the rough romantic patches mentioned before, now that the games are filled with adults instead of kids that still need acting school, everyone is cast well. Elizabeth Banks is wonderfully hammy as the colorful Effie (although that ham did lead to unintentional comedy during some dramatic moments), Woody Harrelson is Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz is Lenny Kravitz and not much else, Stanley Tucci is still great, Jeffrey Wright plays a great oddball genius, Sam Claflin is attractive as the attractive Finnick, Jena Malone needs to be in more things, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman should have been in the series since the beginning.  But while the film looks better and has better content available, it doesn't save it from its overall cornball nature. A lot of imagery and exposition are dealt with a heavy hand (you'll know what I mean by the final scene), but at least it seems to be trying harder than the first film. Fans of the book series or fans of the first Hunger Games will love what they're given here as there's plenty to chew on (the cliffhanger's even better!). But for those who don't like Hunger Games in general, nothing here will convince you otherwise.  All in all, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire does indeed have both feet on the ground, and it's burning it down...but hopefully future flames will be brighter. 
Catching Fire Review photo
Looks like a girl, but she's a flame.
I'm a pretty big fan of The Hunger Games series of books. I tore through them in a day and while Catching Fire isn't my favorite in the series, it does have the most intriguing setups in the trilogy. The production for Catchi...

FFS: Catching Fur photo
FFS: Catching Fur

Flix for Short: Sesame Street's The Hungry Games

"Being strong heroine of entire franchise hard work."
Nov 19
// Nick Valdez
With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire setting fire to theaters in a few days, it's time for everyone to get in on the hype. And that includes the Sesame Street gang. In The Hungry Games: Catching Fur, Cookie Monster stars as ...
Higher than two kites photo
Higher than two kites

Woody Harrelson is just a treasure

He's definitely higher than several kites in this interview.
Nov 15
// Nick Valdez
Did you know that Liam Hemsorth (Gale in The Hunger Games) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor in Thor: The Dark World) were brothers? Then you already know more information than a terribly dazed and confused Woody Harrelson. In an in...

New Hunger Games: Catching Fire TV spot and clip released

Are you hungry for more?
Nov 15
// Mike Cosimano
If you didn't quite enjoy the first Hunger Games flick (like me, and unlike everyone else at Flixist, apparently), and was hoping the fast-approaching sequel would be more palatable, boy, do these clips not help. A...

See Catching Fire early and free

Washington DC screening
Nov 13
// Matthew Razak
Oh, what's that? This just went live and all the passes are gone? That's pretty much how fast I'm expecting these things to go so make sure you're quick with it.  We've got admit two passes to what may be the biggest fil...
Catching FI-YAH photo
Catching FI-YAH

Lionsgate considering a Hunger Games theme park

Like Disneyland, only terribly sad.
Nov 12
// Nick Valdez
The Hunger Games series is an odd duck. It's incredibly popular while managing to be one of the darker teen stories on the market. At base level it's a series in which children murder each other for the enjoyment of rich onlo...
Catching FI-YAH photo
This girl is on fire.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire already looks much better than its predecessor. It's got a nice mix of orange and blues, less shaky cam, Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a bad guy, and Jennifer Lawrence is so hot right now. Now...


New Hunger Games poster full of arrow shooting

Sep 30
// Matthew Razak
If it worked once, it should work again, right? The now iconic look of Katniss Everdeen pulling back her bow from the first Hunger Games movie is replicated here in the new poster for the second film, The Hunge...

New Catching Fire images show off, well, everyone

Seriously, everyone.
Sep 19
// Matthew Razak
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has been hard on the marketing blitz all year so this deluge of new images that just landed isn't really breaking any new ground, but it is the first time we can easily look at every singl...
Catching FI-YAH photo
Catching FI-YAH

Second Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer is hungry

"We hongry"
Jul 21
// Nick Valdez
When the first teaser for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiered during the MTV Movie Awards, I was pleased with what I had seen. A notable bump in narrative quality, camerawork, and just all around coolness. Does the sec...
Catching FI-YAH photo
Catching FI-YAH

Katniss believes she can fly in new Catching Fire poster

She believes she can touch the sky. She thinks about it every night and day. Just spreading her wings and flying away.
May 14
// Nick Valdez
Did you see that disturbingly good looking teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a month ago and think to yourself, "this could totes use more cloud wings"? Then do I have a treat for you! Here's the newest poste...
Catching Fire Teaser photo
First teaser for Catching Fire, um, catches fire?
I took a bullet for all of you. Tonight (or last night depending on when you see this) I watched through the MTV Movie Awards (and its multiple Ted nominations for some reason) just so I could grab this teaser for all of you...


UPDATE: Even more Catching Fire character portraits

Updated again with Peeta, Gale, and Finnick
Mar 08
// Nick Valdez
UPDATE 2: We now have Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (one of the Thor brothers) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) portraits in the gallery! And they all look appropriately attractive. This is probably it. If not, expect another update...

New Catching Fire pics have Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Also new tidbits on three characters that didn't make it into the film
Jan 11
// Nick Valdez
Nicely continuing on from their last batch of (slightly boring) Katniss and Finnick photos yesterday, Entertainment Weekly has uploaded a couple of photos of a few other key characters. Notably showing off one of the new guys...

UPDATE: More pics of Katniss/Finnick in Catching Fire

Because more = better, right? RIGHT?
Jan 10
// Nick Valdez
UPDATE: EW has updated their site with three new photos of Catching Fire, with each one featuring a significant male of the series. While these are admittedly more interesting than the cover (check out those Robocops!), they'...

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