Suzanne Collins

lawrence

For a variety of reasons, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is considerably unlike its predecessor. Structurally the sequel isn’t a 180-turn, but the world itself, while keeping in touch with what director Gary Ross achieved with the first film, has a different texture to it. When the girl on fire is on fire, it actually looks like fire. It’s a sequel, but also a new direction for the franchise, in both small and major ways. That’s what clearly piqued director Francis Lawrence‘s interest. Catching Fire is only Lawrence’s fourth film, but he’s faced considerable storytelling and technical challenges in the past, making him an obvious choice for the franchise. From his films, music videos, and television work, the director behind I Am Legend and Constantine is more than up to the challenge of adding new shades to an already established world. We discussed adding new building blocks to author Suzanne Collins’s creation, along with fandom, subversive blockbusters, and more:

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hungergamestruth-1

Whether you’re been a fan of the books from the beginning or constantly find yourself grumbling “Battle Royale ripoff” under your breath, it’s hard to deny the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games. However, there’s a lot to the series – especially as it is committed to film – that is left unexplained. The premise is simple: After an uprising and war that wiped out much of the North American population, the oppressive government of Panem now demands that two tributes a year are chosen from each of the sparsely-populated districts to compete in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death with a single victor. The story opens in the poverty-stricken District 12 where our heroine is marched into the town square to be part of this annual Reaping. However, knowing that District 12 makes up a large portion of Appalachia and supposedly is larger than the modern state of West Virginia, it seems this Reaping is like the people struggling to survive: a little thin. Do they have the Panem equivalent of draft dodgers? Do the THX-1138 stormtroopers not notice that the ranks are a bit small? How are they getting away with this? In the interest of fairness, this got us thinking: Were the good folks in District 12 scamming the Hunger Games?

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The Hunger Games only has so much time left before Harry Potter rises from the dead to reclaim the YA crown. But Hunger Games isn’t going down without a fight, and the series has just announced the newest, biggest name to sign on to the series- Julianne Moore. Deadline Hollywood reveals that Moore will be playing Alma Coin, one of the rare characters with a genuine human name and not something like “Haymitch,” “Plutarch,” or “Figginsbottom.” In the books, Coin is the President of District 13, and the leader of a major rebellion against the Capitol. Coin is only a part of “Mockingjay,” so Moore will only be present in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. It looks like one of the selling points of Mockingjay (besides being a Hunger Games movie) will be the interplay between two well-known, well liked actresses – one coming off an acclaimed performance in Game Change, the other (Jennifer Lawrence) coming off an acclaimed performance in Silver Linings Playbook. And Mockingjay will give both the opportunity to ham it up ever-so-slightly in performances meant to stand alongside explosions and bow-and-arrow violence rather than awards statuettes. Both actresses are definitely up to the task.

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trailer catching fire

The Hunger Games was the third highest grossing film of 2012 beating out gigantic (and expected) hits like the final Twilight film, the first Hobbit, the latest Bond and the Spider-Man reboot. Hurray for originality! The film, based on the novels by Suzanne Collins, followed a teenager in a dystopian future where people are saddled with ridiculous names and a government that controls people through fear, force and dietary restrictions. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in a televised competition to the death meant to distract the masses from their real miseries, and she surprises everyone involved by winning. The new film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, picks up the story with Katniss and her friend/co-victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) dethroned and forced to fight again by a president (Donald Sutherland) concerned that the duo are waking the sleeping populace towards rebellion. Also, I was mostly kidding about it ripping off Battle Royale II. Check out the first trailer for Catching Fire below.

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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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You know what The Hunger Games: Catching Fire really needs? Some gravitas. Though the first film was an unmitigated success, and it certainly benefited from its young and vibrant cast, most the of “elder statesman” work fell on the shoulders of Donald Sutherland as evil President Snow. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone around that we can trust? If you’re unfamiliar with the second book in Suzanne Collins‘ smash hit book series, a brief character description of the brand new Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, Plutarch Heavensbee, might not make you feel the warm and fuzzies. After all, Wes Bentley‘s cold and calculating Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, seemed bent on rivaling snow for the film’s evil points, and how could anyone in his same position be anything less than a foe? Well, perhaps when he’s played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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While rumors have been swirling for months over possible candidates for some meaty roles in the upcoming The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, today brings the first news that even remotely resembles a casting confirmation. THR reports that Jena Malone is in talks to play tribute Johanna Mason in the upcoming film. “I volunteer as tribute!” says Malone. Sigh, say fans of the franchise. The role of Mason is a key one – along with fan favorite Finnick Odair, Johanna is one of the most essential new characters we meet in Suzanne Collins‘ second novel in her three-book series. Snide, snarky, mean, and biting, Johanna is one of many other former tributes who get introduced in Catching Fire, and she’s one of the most complex and confusing. She’s also one of the most severely damaged.

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ whimsical child murder novel, “The Hunger Games,” will tell you that one of the big differences between her book and its eventual film adaptation was that the role of the deadly games’ designer, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), was dramatically increased for the screen. In the book we see the events of the games from solely the protagonist’s perspective, so the deadly obstacles that are put in her path always come as a surprise. But in the film, we see Bentley’s character setting everything up and reacting to the ways the players handle his tricks and traps. It made the position of the Gamemaker seem far more important than it ever had before. Seeing as Bentley’s character had fallen out of favor with the powers that be by the end of The Hunger Games, its sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is going to have to find a new puppet master. And given the newfound importance of the role in the story’s movie universe, as well as the fact that the second Gamemaker is a more important character than the first in the source material, Catching Fire’s director, Francis Lawrence, will seemingly have to find a big name actor to step into the role. There isn’t need to worry though, reports are he’s already made an important move toward doing just that.

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First, there was some question as to whether he’d be back. Then there was word that he was still taking meetings. Now, it’s double super official: Gary Ross won’t be directing Hunger Games follow-up Catching Fire. According to Deadline Russell, the direct issued a statement claiming that the truncated preparation and shooting schedule was not acceptable. So now, Lionsgate is back to square one and facing down a movie that has to be wrapped by January in order to set Jennifer Lawrence free to turn back into a member of the X-Men. The question now: who should replace Ross? A deeper question: should it necessarily be a female director?

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Culture Warrior

Most dystopian science-fiction narratives feature stories in which a protagonist experiences a process of ‘waking up,’ transitioning from a state of blind ignorance to one of newfound enlightenment. The protagonists of The Matrix (1999), Brazil (1985), and the ur-text for dystopian futures, George Orwell’s 1984 (and its numerous film adaptations), all feature primary characters who transition from a state of passivity and complicity in an oppressive and manufactured society and transition to a newly critical, empowered state of being in which they are able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and witness the world for what it ‘really’ is for the first time. These protagonists are made capable of seeing beyond the structures of propaganda and carefully constructed illusion that they previously accepted to be objective reality and develop a political impetus in direct reaction to their previous state of complicity and ignorance. As someone previously uninitiated to the world of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (I hadn’t read any of the books prior to seeing the film), what struck me most about Gary Ross’s adaptation is the spin it puts on the typical ignorance-to-enlightenment narrative of dystopian science-fiction.

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The Hunger Games

Maybe our science fiction writers have failed us with all their damned pessimism, or maybe we’re all just obsessed with the world ending because it’s definitely going to stop spinning this year. Either way, everyone on this doomed planet is currently obsessed with the cold, distant Dystopian futures of hits like The Hunger Games. Now it’s time to figure out what it all means (which also means a bit of psychoanalysis). Good thing the Jennifer Lawrence-starring flick has people hungrily dissecting it for meaning. The results? Old Jewish heroines, our cinematic past, Occupy Wall Street, unspoken sexuality and the anti-Twilight.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is feeling hungry. Of course, this is nothing strange because he’s always feeling hungry. But this week, he’s extra hungry because only one movie is opening wide, and that is the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games. So Kevin grabs a bow and arrow, a tub of magical antibiotics, tracker jacker repellant and a big bucket of popcorn to check out what is sure to be the next big young-adult-novel-turned-billion-dollar-franchise. (Spoiler alert: Kevin is still hungry when the movie is over, but that’s no surprise either.)

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We’ve already signed up hundreds of people for FSR Dating – the first dating site for movie fans – and to aid the endeavor to provide all of our readers with that special tingle, we’re tossing out a few ideas (that you can totally claim as your own) for forming dates around this week’s releases. They’re perfect for finding a new flame or for re-wooing your current wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend. This week involves a triple header of a bunch of kids fighting to the death, an Asian action flick where men are trying to kill each other, and an Asian flick where a bunch of kids are fighting to the death. Perfect for romance to bloom. Gather ye rosebuds while you can. Check out these thematic date ideas, sack up, and go ask someone out. Then send us the pictures.

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The Reject Report - Large

A lone film hits on a multitude of screens this weekend. The playing field is all for its amusement, and this one film appears to be holding every card in the deck. It’s not a matter of if The Hungers Games will be a success. The real question is how many records will it be breaking this weekend. The incredibly popular book series finally makes its cinematic debut, and, like the Twilight series before it, The Hunger Games is sure to take its core audience by storm. It’ll be sure to bring in audiences who aren’t familiar with the book series, as well, ensuring its place in box office history, or, at the very least, offer a strong enough debut to warrant the inevitable sequel. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? The franchise. Let’s take a look at how this lone wolf stacks up against all these familiar cubs.

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The conceptual similarities between Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” series and Stephenie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga” series are slim – and anyone who tells you otherwise is delusional, illiterate, and incapable of complex thoughts related to literary exploration. However, while their content does differ, their initial appeal to a YA audience, the insistence of declaring “teams” for romantic paramours, and their large-scale cinematic adaptations do beg for some discussion about their surface similarities, and how those will translate into stuff like audience appeal and ultimate impact on readers and viewers. While I find “Twilight” to be the infinitely weaker and less compelling of the two properties, I’m not some sort of blind “Twilight” hater – I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies, and I get why it’s appealing to all sorts of readers and watchers, particularly those looking to consume something that provides escape – but I also think that there is far better material out there for public consumption. Smarter, wiser, more applicable to the real world, and more compelling material – like “The Hunger Games.” Let’s put it this way – if I had a fifteen-year-old daughter, I’d want her to read “The Hunger Games,” and here’s why.

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The marketing was wrong. While the buzz has been on Gary Ross’s cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular book series, The Hunger Games, since the first film was announced, all of the stills, trailers, and posters that have trickled out over the months have not captured the stunning final product. Ross’s film is an engaging, energetic, and emotional journey that should please the series’ dedicated fans while also luring in new ones. Cinephiles who are drawn to science fiction and dystopian stories will likely find a new favorite franchise, a YA adaptation elevated by a talented cast, skilled direction, and a tone and story that feel vibrant and applicable beyond just this single film. The film is set in a future version of the United States in which the country has been fractured and then tenuously reunited after an uprising nearly seventy-five years prior. The rebels were eventually quelled, and the resulting country consists of a rich and powerful central Capitol and twelve individual “Districts.” Each District is responsible for one type of provision or industry and, as the Capitol restricts communication and interaction between the Districts, they are at the mercy of their government to get supplies that are necessary for even basic survival. And though that should be enough to keep the Capitol satisfied in their power, it’s not, and they use the annual “Hunger Games” to remind their citizens just how in control they are. The Games are a televised fight to the death, with its […]

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The Hunger Games

The cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games series has a number of obstacles, including: making child-on-child murder fit into a PG-13 film, pleasing fans with casting decisions, not looking silly, appealing to fans, appealing to non-fans, not getting lumped in with The Twilight Saga just because the film includes a love triangle, giving Lenny Kravitz something to do, hiring someone to etch out Wes Bentley’s facial hair, and making back enough bank to not only make the film a “success” but to also provide some financial padding for sequels. And then there’s the Katniss Everdeen problem. Jennifer Lawrence‘s character is the center of the story, the leading lady, a rebel and a firebrand – and she’s also kind of an inscrutable jerk sometimes. But fans who have read Collins’ books love Katniss, even if they had to grow into that love – moviegoers who don’t know her from Bella Swan don’t have that luxury. So what to do? Well, make a new trailer that shows Katniss’ softer side. And release a new clip that show what an absolute badass Katniss is – both with her bow and arrow and her total disregard for authority.

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Pretty much from the first moment that the Hunger Games movie became official, Lionsgate has been confident that it’s going to be a huge hit. The entire production of the film has been the subject of a media blitz too large to recap here. So it comes as no surprise that even before the first film has been released, work has begun on getting its sequel together. For those not in the know, Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” was the first part of a trilogy of novels whose subsequent books are titled “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” So what’s the news on development for Catching Fire? The Wrap is reporting that not only has Lionsgate secured Hunger Games director Gary Ross to come back and do the sequel, but they’ve also hired screenwriter Simon Beaufoy to come on and adapt the book into a screenplay. Beaufoy has an impressive resume that includes films like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, so I don’t really think his hiring can be seen as a disappointment, even though it might point to the notion that Collins and Ross might not be as hands-on with the writing process on this one as they were the first.

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While the film has never had an American release, it seems like Kinji Fukasaku‘s Battle Royale (based on the novel by Koushun Takami) has already been seen by every cinephile who has sought it out (I saw it just a couple of weeks ago at Los Angeles’ own Cinefamily, when it had its first American theatrical run). The film never got an official U.S. release, because its subject matter (kids killing kids!) struck a little too close to home when the film was first made and ready for U.S. distribution (in 2000, post-Columbine). But it has shown at various festivals and has been readily available on bootleg DVD in the twelve years since, though it’s still worth celebrating that the film is finally getting an official home video release in the U.S., thanks to Anchor Bay. Of course, the timing of the release does coincide quite perfectly with another film based on a book that mines very similar territory. Like Battle Royale, the upcoming The Hunger Games film follows a government-sponsored fight to the death between teens. The comparisons between the two of been made many times, but as our pal Russ Fischer over at /Film notes, author Suzanne Collins “maintains that she had never seen or heard of Battle Royale before writing her books,” something he finds “difficult to believe — it seems like someone whose interests run to the sort of material represented in The Hunger Games would have known Battle Royale — but I suppose it is […]

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” books will remember Haymitch Abernathy as the drunken battle-to-the-death survivor who is chosen to mentor young Katniss Everdeen as she is forced to participate in the same brutal games that Haymitch won. He’s a character who starts off as comically inept, but who darkens, develops, and is revealed to be quite capable in his own way over time. When it was announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast in the role, I opined that he was a perfect choice, seeing as he was an actor who could merge humor with danger and make it seamless. In a recent interview that the actor did with 24 Frames, he talked a little bit about his approach to the character and revealed that he too thinks that he’s the perfect actor to correctly play both the comedy and the drama inherent in this role. Harrelson said, “It was my objective to give the character as much comedy as I could without it seeming not to fit. I tried to take a certain comedic aspect and give a sense, through that, that he’s been through a lot and is anesthetizing himself as a result of that.” I like his use of the word “anesthetizing” there. When we first meet Haymitch we see him through the eyes of Katniss, who sees him as nothing more than a pathetic lout. But he’s a character who has been though quite a bit and survived, so he couldn’t have always been such […]

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