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Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The_Hunger_Games_Catching_Fire_PosterBetween the prime source material, built-in fan base, epic star power and increased budget, Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” had all the potential in the world, but that also shrouded it in an exorbitant amount of pressure and expectation, so it’s a good thing Lawrence rose to the occasion.

The second installment picks up shortly after the events of the first. Katniss and Peeta (Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson) are home sweet home in District 12, but still suffer from the repercussions of surviving the Hunger Games, one of which is participating in the Victory Tour. Even though the Capitol’s beloved star-crossed lovers travel from district to district professing their devotion to Panem, there’s no stopping what they started. With a rebellion on the horizon, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) opts to hit the districts where it hurts, targeting their resources, safety, and their Hunger Games victors.

Scoff at the “Hunger Games” craze all you want; this is a franchise that earns every ounce of attention, press and profits. Not only did Gary Ross’ film do the pre-release hype justice by kicking off the series with a riveting, well-composed and highly effective adaptation, but now Francis Lawrence and writers Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt build upon Ross’ success by taking the budget boost and funneling it into quality talent, stunning visuals and creating an all-consuming experience.

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Interview: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s Willow Shields

Willow_Shields_Jennifer_Lawrence_Catching_FireMost actors have to work their way up. Willow Shields, on the other hand, kicked off her career off at the top. She snagged the coveted role of Primrose Everdeen, Katniss’ little sister, back in April of 2011 and it’s been non-stop prepping, filming and promoting ever since. All the hard work paid off when The Hunger Games scored a $152.5 million opening week in March 2012 and now even more so as the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, just kicked off its run with a record-breaking $161.1 million.

In the second installment of the critically acclaimed franchise, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) vies to make Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) pay for defying the Capitol with her stunt with the Nightlock berries in the 74th Hunger Games. While Snow tries to destroy everything Katniss holds dear, Prim is there to pick up the pieces when she can, putting her healing capabilities to use and ensuring the fire within her sister continues to burn, giving the people of Panem a source of hope.

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Peeta vs. Gale

pvgintroTeam Edward vs. Team Jacob who?  Katniss Everdeen may be unfortunate enough to have been shipped off to the 74th Hunger Games, but she’s got two eligible bachelors chasing after her, making her one lucky girl with a tough decision on her hands. One minute Gale’s being all manly and taking care of her family while she’s away, but then Peeta gives her those puppy-dog eyes and kills a rival. How can she possibly choose between the two? We break it down.

Peeta

  • Age: 16
  • Home: Victor’s Village
  • Occupation: Baker
  • Weapons of Choice:
  • Weights, Camouflage, Knives

Gale

  • Age: 19
  • Home: The Seam
  • Occupation: Coal Miner
  • Weapons of Choice: Snares,
  • Bow and Arrow

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Jennifer Lawrence for the Oscar Win

Jennifer_Lawrence_Silver_Linings_Playbook_Hunger_Games_OscarJennifer Lawrence’s Saturday Night Live episode may have been abysmal and quite possibly one of the worst of the season, but who can blame Lawrence? She was natural enough and tried to play along. When the writing is that unfunny all-around, there’s just so much even an Academy Award-nominated actress can do. So while her disappointing stint onSNL comes and goes, and hopefully rarely gets revisited on YouTube, Lawrence still has her Oscar nomination and, soon enough, that nod could become a win – and maybe even with a little help from Katniss.

Just because Lawrence is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t mean her performance in The Hunger Games can’t have an effect on the vote. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is comprised of people and whether or not a nomination honors a single performance, those people are susceptible to outside forces and, considering The Hunger Games was a cinematic extravaganza that went on to please the large majority of critics, become the third-highest domestic earner of the year, and amass a legion of die-hard fans, it’s very likely that the Girl on Fire is in the back of voters’ minds.

Looking at the five ladies in contention, we can also narrow down the competition rather quickly. While little Quvenzhané Wallis is a revelation and her becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in history is a thrill, Beasts of the Southern Wild will likely go on to enjoy a presence at the Academy Awards, but fall short of any wins. As one of my top 10 films of the year, it breaks my heart that Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible missed out on a Best Picture nod, only going on to secure a single nomination. Naomi Watts is incredible and deserves to be in the running, but just like the film itself, she’ll fly under the radar.

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Dream Casting ‘Catching Fire’

In August of 2010 I posted “Daring to Dream: Casting ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie” on Cinematical. Not a single person I named was cast and I still stand by my choices to the point, but I must concede Gary Ross and Lionsgate did a much better job. However, that’s not stopping me from dream casting the sequel, Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games Vets

Of course there are quite a few characters from round one that will not return, but we’ve got quite the handful that are not only still in the spotlight, but consuming more of it. Catching Fireis Katniss Everdeen’s story just like The Hunger Games, so Jennifer Lawrence’s return is top priority. Sure this whole X-Men: First Class 2 thing put a little strain on the Catching Fireproduction schedule, but Lawrence needs to be front and center and the studio’s got to make that happen in any way it can.

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: The Movie Is Out and So is Gary Ross, So What’s Next?

The Hunger Games just wrapped up its third weekend in theaters and, naturally, Catching Fire chatter is already taking over. Making a movie is a very temperamental process, so while the Hunger Games sequel does have a definitive due date, November 22nd, 2013, the road to that release could veer in all sorts of directions.

Search for a Director

We’ve been whipped around quite a bit with this whole Gary Ross/Catching Fire issue, but just last night it came to an official close. After a lengthy back and forth, some reports claiming Ross was a no-go for Catching Fire and then others saying it was still possible, we received the man’s definitive decision: Gary Ross will not continue to direct the franchise.

According to Deadline, Ross’ exit “shocked” a Lionsgate executive. In a personal statement, Ross said, “I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.” He goes on to talk about how much he enjoyed making The Hunger Games and refutes claims that he’s had difficulties negotiating with the studio. In fact, Ross noted, “They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.”

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Review: The Hunger Games

The pressure is on. The time has come and now the world really is watching. Does The Hunger Games live up to the hype that’s preceded its release? Most certainly.

The nation of Panem consists of 12 districts and the Capitol. As punishment for a rebellion, each district must pay penance to the nation by sending one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, to the Capitol to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death.

When Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) younger sister Prim’s (Willow Shield) name is randomly selected during the District 12 reaping, Katniss does something no District 12 citizen has ever done before; she volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. And so it is done; Katniss is forced to say her goodbyes and board a train to the Capitol alongside her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), to fight for her life.

The concept in itself is enough to get just about anyone hooked. No, the idea of children killing each other in order to preserve their own life isn’t appealing, but it is intriguing. However, what’s even more captivating than that is the world that’s built around it – the people in it, the districts that keep it running and the values that make the nation of Panem what it is when we enter The Hunger Games.

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