The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games Catching Fire

At the tail end of 2013, Iron Man 3 received one of the biggest bitch-slaps of the year, courtesy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The teen novel adaptation swooped in and eclipsed the Marvel superhero’s spot as the highest grossing movie of the year, at least in terms of domestic box office. While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire didn’t overcome the worldwide box office of Iron Man 3, it had its own victory by besting the first installment by more than $200m worldwide. As the movie-going audience prepares for the first of two final sequels releasing later this year, they can stave off their hunger by checking out The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on DVD and Blu-ray. Included on the discs is a commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Lawrence had already been working on the final two films at the time of recording, so his insight goes beyond the production of this film and extends into the grand finale. Even if you’re not a huge fan of these films, you can take solace in the fact that the filmmakers behind them are striving for something better and deeper than the previous box office champs in terms of young adult fiction. (Yes, I’m talking about the thank-god-it’s-over Twilight films.) Now, with that dig against Stephenie Meyer and all things sparkly out of the way, on to the commentary.

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Franco Nero is Space Jesus in THE VISITOR

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Visitor John Huston and Jesus Christ (Franco Nero) are in a never-ending war with Satan, and their latest battleground is Atlanta, GA, where the soul of a child holds the key to saving the universe. Probably. Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, and Sam Peckinpah join in the fun as Huston struggles to stop the girl’s descent into evil and tendency towards causing bodily harm. It’s hardly news to say that this thirty four year old movie is a mental fingerbang that bends genres and somehow teases both brilliance and stupidity, but I’m saying it anyway. Both highly derivative and wholly original, the film cherry picks elements from The Omen, The Fury, Phantasm, and more, and then swirls them together in a psychedelic mélange of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pure nuttiness as it tells the story of good and evil battling over a young girl’s potty-mouthed soul. Drafthouse Films brings this gem to HD for the first time, and while the extras are unfortunately scarce the film alone is enough to warrant a purchase. Read my full review. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer, booklet]

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2013: The YA Invasion Continues

If you hadn’t heard, 2013 is the year that a small indie production called The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, starring little-known commercial actress Jennifer Lawrence (am I saying that right?) stormed into theaters. In truth, the massive-scale production, bolstered by a months-long marketing campaign (step into a Subway sometime for a District 12 themed sandwich, because nothing screams “we’re actually starving” like footlongs), has earned over $600M worldwide to date, and is expected to reach $800M by the end of its theatrical run. This is also the year that everyone and their producer attempted to find the next Hunger Games franchise and fell completely, utterly flat. Line ‘em up: The Host, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters and Ender’s Game all tried their hand at making the jump from page to screen, but nothing achieved anything near what Catching Fire created, both in terms of financial success and creative content.

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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Hunger Games

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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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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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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review hunger games catching fire

It’s been nearly a year since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) captured the hearts of the people of Panem by winning the 74th Hunger Games in extremely unorthodox fashion. Where there should have only been a single victor the two illusory lovebirds stood together as champions in defiance of both expectations and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Fearing that seeds of rebellion are breaking through the hard earth outside of the Capitol, Snow carts the two from district to district pimping their celebrity in the hopes that it will distract the people from their day to day drudgery. Instead, the trip spurs more unrest and unruliness leading Snow to make a change for the upcoming 75th Games. In direct conflict with the life of wealth and peace their previous victory had earned them, two past winners from each district, one male and one female, will once again be chosen as tributes to fight until only one remains. Katniss and Peeta are forced to continue the charade that is their love affair as they reunite with their Capitol entourage and attempt to make allies amid the roster of past champions and imminent threats. The games are still about life and death, but this time it’s the heart of the rebellion that the pair are hoping to keep thumping in addition to their own. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second film in what has quickly become one of the biggest YA franchises yet, and while it features many of the […]

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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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Catching Fire: Katniss

Unlike some of the earlier teases for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, this theatrical trailer seems intent on showing you some action. It opens as the first teaser did, with a lot of political talk. In the wake of the events of the first film, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has become a symbol of hope for people around the country, the spark of a coming revolution. So Donald Sutherland must get rid of her in a spectacular, not-at-all suspicious manner. The solution: have a big 75th anniversary Hunger Games with the most deadly previous winners they can find. In the middle of it all: Katniss. Will she overcome the plots against her? Will she lead her people to revolution? Will her family pay the price? Will Stanley Tucci’s character ever stop going to whatever bizarro hair salon he obviously frequents? Are there more ridiculous character names in the third book than what we’re going to see in this one? I’m looking at you, Cashmere, Beetee, Wiress, Enobaria, Finnick, Gloss and Johanna. Wait, not that last one. Readers of the books know the answers to these and many other important questions, but the rest of us will have to wait for the movie. For now, lets enjoy the setup for one of the most anticipated sequels of the year.

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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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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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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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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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catchingfire_firstlook

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news column that cares. Bring Me Your Katniss! – We begin this evening with one of a few new images from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the holiday-releasing sequel to that other movie about a girl with a bow, an arrow and a will to live. The above image is our first look at Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. Seriously, these names…

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Obviously the one thing that movie-goers desperately wanted from The Hunger Games was to somehow feel closer and more involved with the child-on-child murder-for-sport that played out before their very eyes. Isn’t that what entertainment is for? Luckily enough, the Hunger Games team has heard our cries (some of them muffled by the blood that is filling our lungs, thanks to a hearty jabbing from a fellow Tribute), with Peeta Mellark himself (Josh Hutcherson, if you’re not hip to it) revealing which portion of the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be filmed in native IMAX. Which portion? The best kind! The one with the killing! Hutcherson told MTV (via /Film) in a new interview (which you can check out after the break) that the Francis Lawrence-directed film will feature IMAX scenes in the arena during the games, saying: “I think, all the stuff in the arena is going to be IMAX. So when you go see it in IMAX, you’ll see the regular movie when we’re in the Districts and in the Capitol. When you see us go up in the pod in the games, it will open up into IMAX. It will be amazing. It’s very cool.” Jokes about murder aside, the arena used in Catching Fire is going to be awesome (should the film stick to the original vision of the book, which is sort of a no-brainer), and to be immersed in that world via IMAX should prove to be one hell of a time. Also, huge plus […]

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Director Francis Lawrence has yet to even wrap his first Hunger Games film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but the helmer is apparently doing a stellar job, as Lionsgate has just announced that he is booked to direct the final two Hunger Games films. Lawrence will again be joined by stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth for the third and fourth installments of the already-massive YA franchise cash cow based on Suzanne Collins‘ book series. The second film, Catching Fire, is currently filming in Atlanta. From a script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt, that film will send heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and her possible paramour Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) straight back into a brand new Hunger Games arena, mere months after the two barely escaped their last round in the battle-to-the-death. Catching Fire arrives in theaters on November 22, 2013.

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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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