Sam Claflin

series-7-the-contenders

It’s too bad I already recommended The Running Man this month (for post-Ender’s Game viewing), because even more than the first Hunger Games movie it really fits well with the new second installment, Catching Fire. But that’s okay, you can still add that to this week’s bunch of movies to see. I just won’t include it below. The same goes for Battle Royale, the most obvious movie to highlight for being similar to this franchise, though that one does make more sense as something to recommend after the first movie. Should Battle Royale II: Requiem take its place now that we’re talking about The Hunger Games 2? I haven’t seen it and hear it’s really terrible and it doesn’t seem to coincide plot-wise, so no. Instead I’ve got 12 other movies better worth your time as you wait for the first part of Mockingjay to hit theaters and continue the abruptly halted narrative of the Hunger Games story. As usual, the list will probably involve some spoilers if you haven’t seen Catching Fire.  

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quarter quell katniss

You didn’t think that just because society had transformed into a dystopian nightmare where children are forced to murder each other for sport while the rich clap along that we would totally abandon Twitter, right? If the newly released posters for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire that call for the citizens of Panem to #celebrateyourvictors are accurate, then some form of the social networking site is alive and well in the future. The new series of one-sheets [via First Showing] depict the group of Hunger Game victors who are now forced to participate in the Quarter Quell, as if winning that last tournament wasn’t bad enough. Featured are: Cashmere and Gloss of District 1 (Stephanie Leigh Schlund and Alan Ritchson), Brutus and Enobaria of District 2 (Bruno Gunn and Meta Golding), Beetee and Wiress of District 3 (Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer), Finnick and Mags of District 4 (Sam Claflin and Lynn Cohen), Johanna of District 7 (Jena Malone) and of course, Katniss and Peeta of District 12 (Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson).

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Bill Murray at Cannes 2012

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting roundup that’s got news about what weird, clown-related thing Peter Stormare is going to do next. Read on for the juicy details. If your name is Dan Aykroyd or Ivan Reitman, then Bill Murray has been spending the last ten years or so trying to convince you that he doesn’t read scripts. That’s got to sting, because Deadline has a new report that proves this to be balderdash. Murray read Ted Melfi’s script for St. Vincent De Van Nuys and identified with the writer’s work so much that he called him up and invited him out for a drive. One negotiating process later and Murray is reportedly ready to sign on to star in the film, which is about a cantankerous old coot who bonds with a twelve-year-old boy over rounds of drinking, gambling, and generally despicable behavior. Sounds like it’s going to be a hoot.

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Sam Claflin in The Hunger Games

Those who are familiar with Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” novels know Finnick Odair. He’s the charming and gorgeous survivor of the 65th version of the games, who’s deadly with a trident and quick to blow the cameras a kiss – and he’s the sort of person who could mean trouble for the story’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, unless her and the cocky superstar from District 4 are able to find some common ground, and somehow become allies. The basic thrust of the plot for the second book, “Catching Fire,” is that a group of survivors from past Hunger Games are gathered together and forced to once again compete in an all-star version of the event referred to as the Quarter Quell. As discontent among the districts simmers in the background, Katniss and company find themselves once again thrust into danger, and once again thrust into the nation’s spotlight. Think of it like the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, but with slightly more murder. Suffice to say, Finnick is an important character from the second installment of this story on, so playing him in Lionsgate’s upcoming adaptation of the second book, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was probably a coveted job among many of the handsome young actors in Hollywood. Unfortunately for everyone who’s not Sam Claflin, they can stop sending in their head shots, because a press release from the studio has now confirmed that the Snow White and the Huntsman and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides actor has landed […]

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Despite somewhat middling reviews and critics and pundits everywhere asking “who the hell is this film for?,” Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with (or at least looked at). The film has so far made nearly $120m in worldwide receipts in the last week and a half, and it opened to a surprising $56m first weekend in the U.S. alone. The studio set screenwriter David Koepp to pen a sequel back in April, but it’s still been a bit of a wait-and-see as to whether the studio would actually charge ahead with a new installment. Now Deadline Dark Forest reports that Universal is indeed plunging back into the thick of the gritty revisionist fairy tale, with the studio “making all the moves that indicate another chapter is in the offing, and on a fast track.” Koepp is still on the screenwriting beat, and Universal is reportedly interested in bringing back Rupert Sanders to direct (the film was the commercial director’s first feature). While Sanders has yet to commit, he’s apparently “interested” in the job, though he does have the same kind of optioned deal that would bring him back for another go – not like the actors from the film, who do (though Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth are clearly part of that package, it’s unclear if Charlize Theron is).

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After the nadir that was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, it was clear that the most lucrative movie franchise of the new millennium needed some freshening up. So, out (reportedly by their own choosing) went director Gore Verbinski and co-stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. In their stead, new helmer Rob Marshall is relied upon for his eye for grandiose theatrical imagery and staging, while Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane are meant to add spice and character to the proceedings. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is, well, Captain Jack. Yet On Stranger Tides, the fourth Pirates flick, proves an age-old maxim: the more things change, the more they stay the same. However much the franchise has cosmetically shifted, the new picture is rooted in the familiar: Supernatural-tinged storytelling, murkily-shot battles fought against pristine backdrops, colonial-era costumes and the admittedly unforgettable protagonist, who has become an icon thanks to Depp’s epicene, offbeat take. It is by now a tired formula, rendered in such a way that emotional investment is muted and the more adventuresome aspects are diluted by their adherence to this static aesthetic. Character and atmosphere are sacrificed to spectacle, and the spectacle — sprightly chases, dull sword fights and sweeping, zooming shots of the lush Caribbean sea/countryside — has worn down.

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The fourth step in a franchise can often be the sticking point, especially when that franchise has taken a break of sorts after the third installment – just ask fans of Die Hard, Indiana Jones, Alien and Scream. The issues are generally two-fold, as the filmmakers are charged with somehow making a high-numbered sequel that retains the spirit of the original, at the same time as offering something new and compelling enough to entice new fans. Add to that the fact that that gap generally means that the fourth installment has to make enough money to turn heads, and certainly a lot more than would traditionally accepted of a third sequel, and you have a minefield of potential pitfalls. But surely Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides would be okay? Regardless of the critical reaction, the film will make an obscene amount of money, so that won’t be an issue, but the pre-release noises coming from the Mouse House, and director Rob Marshall actually seemed to suggest that this particular number 4 was going to address the problems of the preceding two sequels, which for fans and filmmakers alike set some exciting bells ringing. So swelled by that excitement, I donned a pair of the Palais’ frankly ridiculous 3D glasses and settled in to watch a rum and gunpowder caper.

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