The Hunger Games (2014)

Fast and Furious 7 PosterRelease Date: November 21, 2014

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Written by: Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks

Synopsis:

Katniss Everdeen reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol.

Avengers12

There was a while where I defended the majority of comic book movies as being fairly original works. Aside from the borrowed characters and origin stories and basic themes, it was still up to the production team to come up with a story and plot, cinematic characterization and dialogue. There was a lot of creativity required there. Far more than a lot of faithful adaptations of novels. But now more and more, perhaps because there are so many of these movies being made and not a lot of fresh ideas to go around, producers are mining from preexisting stories from the comics. Few of them have been too complete in their translation, but each time there’s a title directly lifted from a publication we have to wonder how much will be the same. The announcement that Marvel is tapping its 2006 “Civil War” crossover for Captain America 3 makes the studio seem like it’s getting lazier. Obviously name recognition goes a long way, and fans love to see movie versions of material they’ve already seen in one form — to watch the panels come alive, as it were. But this is Marvel. They’ve gotten away with so many risks that they can’t be thinking they need more familiarity in their adaptations. Even as far as fan service goes, it’s not like the comic geeks and the brand loyal aren’t going to show up anyway. Maybe Fox needs that with their X-Men franchise, especially after proving it could boost box office with such […]

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Film scores

Film series are a great way to tell a story that cannot be contained to a single film. Successful films usually end up getting sequels, but series are stories intended to be digested over the course of several films. The cast will (usually) stay the same throughout a series, but there is another important element that should remain consistent to help link each film to the next – the music. While it is not a requirement to stick with a single composer throughout a series (and sometimes you have no choice but to change things up due to schedules and prior commitments), having a singular musical voice working on a film series helps keep a consistent feeling from film to film. Most film series have kept the same composer throughout the series, and the few that have changed composers from film to film had it fit the story or ultimately ended up returning to the original composer.

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Hunger Games Mockingjay Snow and Peeta

Have you been good? Obedient? Loyal to your country since the last time we were graced with a Hunger Games film? Well if you haven’t, it’s probably for the best that you keep your mouth shut, for Panem’s dear, dour President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has an important announcement for his many citizens: be good to Panem, keep your head down and don’t ask questions, and Panem will be good to you just the same. The first teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 has arrived, and if there’s anything to take away from it, it’s to watch your back at all times if you live anywhere within the 12 Districts … and maybe pray a little bit for Peeta Mellark. It’s more of a not-so veiled threat to Panem’s revolutionaries than a presidential address, and if Snow’s faux friendly “I’m a cool leader, come hang out with me, KATNISS” speech didn’t ring any red hot alarm bells right away, the sight of poor little Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) standing calmly at his side might be a suggestion. For those who saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, you might recall that at the end of the film, our dashing male lead was separated from Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) — who was on her way to the District 13 headquarters of the new rebellion — and kidnapped and taken to the Capitol. It seems as if he’s found/been forced into a new role as the right hand man of the President — or at least […]

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Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer in Palo Alto

There’s a scene in Palo Alto, the new film from writers James Franco and Gia Coppola (also the film’s director), where the gaggle of wealthy, listless teenagers gather for yet another Friday night rager thrown by a nameless jock from their high school. The drunkest of the bunch gather around the kitchen, the girls from the soccer team teetering in their high heels that they think make them look sophisticated as the guys try to inch in closer for a drinking game to make things worse — or “more interesting,” one of the girls in glitter eyeshadow cackles. Our protagonists, the outsiders April (Emma Roberts), Teddy (Jack Kilmer) and Fred (Nate Wolff), ditch the festivities to go hang out in a graveyard and wander their neighborhood like any good weirdos do. It’s an all too familiar flashback to anybody’s high school experience, that intense boredom combined with a need to be something more than just another face at the party, that desire to be anywhere but your small town and a twinge of wanting to be a kid again at the same time. In short, being a teenager sucks, and Palo Alto expresses every miserable moment of it beautifully. But it’s not just good writing and set dressing that creates an accurate high school portrayal on film. By casting actual teenagers (and one very young adult, with Emma Roberts clocking in at age 20 during production) to portray their teen characters, the story was leant an authenticity that just couldn’t be […]

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Divergent

Like it or not, Hollywood’s current obsession with adapting (any and all, apparently) YA novels to the big screen got its biggest push from the tremendous success of the Twilight novels. The Stephenie Meyer-penned series set the stage for a hefty number of teen-centric (and paranormally influenced) features to go the cinematic route, even as her blockbuster franchise presented a very problematic view of teen romance and sexual obsession (something I touched upon before the first Hunger Games arrived in theaters). In the post-Twilight years, a number of other YA adaptations have arrived, bolstered by big-time romances that often overshadow stories that ostensibly center on youngsters (mainly girls) exploring special powers, from Beautiful Creatures to The Mortal Instruments. Being magical or immortal or witchy or intelligent might be a good thing, but it’s not the most important thing – but that’s starting to change. With the success of both Divergent (less than a week in release, and already headed straight to Franchise Town on a train populated by people who enjoy boarding and disembarking said trains in the most dangerous way possible) and The Hunger Games series, YA adaptations are steadily moving away from making their stories rely on romance, instead focusing on actual power and personal discovery. It’s a nice change for that genre, but it’s also a swift kick to the neck of other action films.

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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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This week on the show we’re talking with Dear Mr. Watterson director (and adult Calvin look-a-like) Joel Allen Schroeder about the universal love for Calvin and Hobbes as well as the long, strange trip the Kickstarted movie took to find theaters. Plus, Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and I debate whether The Hunger Games should be criticized for being a rip-0ff of Battle Royale and Geoff waxes philosophical (and structural) about the right way to approach foreign remakes. You should follow Katey Rich (@kateyrich), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #41 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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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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dallas_buyers

This November is a diverse month. Come Thanksgiving, there are all kinds of pictures to experience with your family: a boy preparing for war; a time travel romantic comedy; James Franco antagonizing Jason Statham; and Josh Brolin bashing a few skulls in with a hammer. If only every month had that level of variety, because this November has it in spades. One glaring omission from this list is Thor: The Dark World. I predict James Franco’s performance in Homefront alone will make that Sylvester Stallone-written actioner more of a must-see than Marvel’s biggest clunker to date. Despite Thor: The Dark World, there are still plenty other options to go with. Here they are:

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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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DIVERGENT

There’s a way to know when a YA adaptation is going to be the next big thing, and that’s when everyone had heard of the books prior to the making of the movie. Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games all fit that rule, at least as far as I noticed. Divergent does not. I hadn’t heard the title before production began. In fact, I hadn’t heard about it until Comic-Con last month. I understand that many people are excited about this movie, which stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Kate Winslet and Theo James. But now that the first trailer has arrived, by way of MTV and the VMAs, I can’t for the life of me see why. Perhaps it’s a matter of just seeing The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this week and being reminded of all prior YA adaptations, success and failures. Then only afterward learning that it began as Harry Potter fanfiction. In the discussions of fanfic turning into actual hot “original” YA properties, I’d heard the notion that Divergent seems like it was born out of The Hunger Games, and this preview really drives that idea home. Sort of. It looks like a Hunger Games knockoff with a plot inspired by Harry Potter‘s Sorting Hat. For a movie that’s apparently about not fitting into a conventional box, Divergent sure doesn’t look very divergent.

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thg

Movie trailers are commercials. We may forget that from time to time, especially when a particularly good trailer comes around, two minutes of something that’s good enough to make people start demanding Oscars and accolades for a film they haven’t yet seen, simply because someone found 120-seconds of good stuff and packaged it up with a stirring score and some cool visuals. But a movie trailer is a commercial, a marketing tool, a creation meant solely to entice people to see something else. The trailer is never the true endgame (no matter how many people buy tickets for one film just to catch a particular trailer beforehand and certainly no matter how many “events” pack theaters with people eager to catch early footage). The final film is the thing, but it’s easy to forget that when we’re constantly being convinced that it’s trailers we need to get excited for. After all, trailers are getting their own commercials these days, and people are eating it up. Most trailers clock in around the two-minute mark – anything much longer feels like it’s giving too much away, anything much shorter just feels like a bloated television spot. Want to entice? Make a minute-long teaser trailer. Hell, make it forty-five seconds and be done with it. But want to infuriate? Throw together twenty seconds of nonsense and call it a teaser for a teaser, a sneak peek at a thing that is, by its very nature, already a sneak peek. A commercial for a […]

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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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moore

What is Casting Couch? It’s all of the day’s most pressing casting news compiled in one convenient place. Today we’ve got a very important update on what David Hasselhof is going to be up to next. The Germans should love this one. One of the more important characters who’s going to be introduced in the next two Hunger Games movies is Alma Coin, who’s the President of one of the Districts that make up the story’s dystopian world—probably the most important and mysterious of all the Districts too. Anyway, she’s a lady, and she’s the sort of lady who projects quite a bit of competence and authority, so it’s going to be important for director Francis Lawrence to find an experienced actress with some real chops to play her. Low and behold, Deadline has a report that he’s likely found such an actress. According to their sources, Julianne Moore is very close to signing on to take the role, which will finally give her a chance to play a politician with some brains.

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hr_The_Hunger_Games-_Catching_Fire_23

She just can’t wait to be tribute? The newest poster for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire seems to be nodding quite firmly to a most unexpected influence – Disney’s The Lion King. While we can’t quite remember any sort of magical jagged rock in Suzanne Collins‘ bestselling YA book series, it certainly looks like Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is hanging out on Pride Rock, surveying all the land that belongs to her, and plotting to overthrow her mean Uncle Scar – or is that just us? At least this new poster also includes a nice cloud-based nod to Katniss’ budding wings, as it looks like our very own Mockingjay just might take flight, until you realize, nope, those are just clouds. Fine then, Katniss, do it your way. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters on November 22nd. [Press Release]

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Catching Fire

Even in the fictional world of Panem, newly-crowned Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is a victor. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson‘s Peeta set out on their official “Victory Tour” after having won the 74th Annual Hunger Games in stunning fashion (back during The Hunger Games). Of course, not everything is creamy goat stew with plums (or whatever it is that Katniss noms on) and high (read: bad) fashion, because the Capitol is none too pleased with their dual wins, and things are about to go from glitz and glamour back to televised murder. Nope, this Victory Tour cannot last forever, but let’s enjoy the clean clothes and tossed rose petals while we still can. Check out another brand new Victory Tour poster after the break. So modern! So clean! So…not like what much of Catching Fire is probably going to be like!

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Who wants to participate in gruesome, bloody, terrifying hand-to-hand combat on live national television again? No, no, we’re not talking about last night’s Golden Globes, we’re talking about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire! Forgive us for that terrible lede, but there’s not much to say about the Jennifer Lawrence-starring film as of yet, considering we’re still just working with scattered stills from the sequel and a brand-new teaser poster (released today). A teaser poster that looks almost exactly like the first teaser poster for last year’s The Hunger Games. At least that fire looks a bit more realistic? Sort of? Maybe? And its central mockingjay has a bit more detail? Nope, sorry, it’s pretty much the same poster. Snooze. Don’t believe us? Take a look at a side-by-side comparison after the break.

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2012-rejectawards

It’s funny. We spend so much time honoring the triumphs of 2012, and the big game won’t even roll around until February. The Academy Awards aren’t a paragon of perfection for some, and they aren’t the final word, but they are (like it or not) the closest thing we have to a standard for celebrating creative film talent. There job is to hand out the general cheers for performances, make-up, songs and the like, and since they’ve got those covered, it falls to us to hoist filmmakers and films on high for unique reasons. Reasons that might make the average Academy voter spit out their tea. From the far corners, here are the 2nd Annual Reject Awards.

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The Best Soundtracks of 2012

Looking back over the past year in film, it is impressive to remember the different styles and forms of music that accompanied these various releases as they bring back the memories and emotions felt when first hearing a particular song or watching a piece of orchestration pair perfectly with what was happening on screen. When it comes to music, it is not simply a question of what was the best; it is a question of what resonated the most. Music created for film is unlike any other type of music because it is intended to be listened to while watching specific images. Of course there are songs that stand well on their own (see: Adele’s “Skyfall”), but hopefully even outside of the film, those songs conjure up memories of the films they came from. Sometimes a song placed in a particular scene can take on a whole new meaning, giving you a new ideas to reflect on when you hear it (see: “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies as used in a pivotal scene in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.) Soundtracks and scores help add to the emotion of a film and this year’s musicians delivered in spades. From turning found sounds into orchestration to adding a new layer of depth to the end of a trilogy to proving that sometimes words simply are not enough, 2012 was filled with new, inventive, and memorable music. Let’s look back and listen to the twelve selections […]

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The Avengers

According to USA Today, 2012 is the biggest box office year in movie history (not adjusted for inflation). The numbers aren’t set yet (because, you know, the year’s not over), but if the predictive models hold, the industry will close out with $10.8b and the first year since 2009 that individual ticket sales went up. Unsurprisingly, it was buoyed by big franchise hits — including over a billion coming in solely from The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Another billion was earned from a franchise that was ending (Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2), two franchises that were just beginning (The Hunger Games and a rebooted Spider-Man) and a franchise that’s stronger than ever at a half-century old (Bond, James Bond). In the simplest terms, it only took 6 movies to cross the $2b mark this year whereas it took 8 movies to do the same in 2011. That may seem small, but when you’re dealing in the hundreds of millions, it can be the difference between a slump and a reason to buy a sheet cake at Costco for the company break room. Especially when the top movie this year outdid the top movie of the previous by $242m. The whole mess is too complicated to reduce to a single factor. Marvel’s big gamble paid off in a profound way, but there’s also the rebounding economy at large to think about and the general fickleness of consumers. Plus, this raw number doesn’t take into consideration that 50 more movies were released in 2012, […]

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