Lionsgate via Everett Collection
The Hunger Games stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson and Sam Claflin bid an emotional farewell to the franchise as filming on the final installment came to an end on Friday (20Jun14).
The cast of the blockbuster movie series shot their final scene for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 in Europe and producer Nina Jacobson photographed a group hug between castmembers Lawrence, Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as the foursome said their goodbyes.
Jacobson published the snap on Twitter.com and added, "That's a wrap. Thank you Suzanne Collins (author of the original book series) Thank you (director) Francis Lawrence. Thank you HG Fans. Other than that, I'm speechless."
Claflin, who joined the cast for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire last year (13), also took to the microblogging website to express his thanks to his co-stars and fans of the book-to-big screen franchise.
He wrote, "I just want/need to express my many thanks to everyone (cast, crew & fans) who have worked so hard for so long to make The Hunger Games experience what it is. "But for also trusting me enough to let me be part of it. I feel privileged, honoured and so very lucky to have shared this opportunity with so many passionate & talented people. #dreamjob"
The final book of Suzanne Collins' dystopian series, Mockingjay, has been split into two films, with the first premiering this November (14), and the fourth and final movie debuting in November, 2015.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence has become the latest celebrity to pay tribute to tragic actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed away from an apparent drug overdose on Sunday (02Feb14). The 46 year old's body was found in his New York apartment after a friend grew concerned following failed attempts to contact the star.
At the time of his death, Hoffman was filming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 & 2 and now the franchise star is remembering her fallen castmate.
A statement from the actress, director Francis Lawrence and The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, reads, "Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking. Our deepest condolences go out to his family."
Bosses from Lionsgate Films, the production company behind the movie, and franchise star Sam Claflin have also issued statements.
Other tributes have come from Steve Martin, Ricky Gervais, Aaron Paul, Rose McGowan, Justin Timberlake, Minnie Driver, Octavia Spencer, Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham, Mia Farrow, Elijah Wood and Jim Carrey.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Actor Robert Knepper has joined the all-star cast of The Hunger Games franchise as a new character who is not in the popular books the films are based on. The former Prison Break star will play Antonius, the minister to Donald Sutherland's scheming leader, President Snow, for the upcoming third and fourth movies of the series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2.
The movies will be based on Suzanne Collins' final book in the bestselling series' trilogy, but the character is nowhere to be found in the novel.
Lionsgate bosses' have declined to comment on the development, and no other official information has been released.
Knepper will make his debut alongside fellow new cast members Julianne Moore, Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer, and Australian actress Stef Dawson, while Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and director Francis Lawrence all return for Mockingjay Part 1, due out next year (14).
Yes, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is still in theatres, but we're already ready for more (especially as that ending was one helluva cliffhanger). What can we look forward to in the next installment of the trilogy quartet?
Less Josh Hutcherson – we know from the books that Peeta's only really in the second half of the story (fans are already speculating that Mockingjay Part I will end on [SPOILER ALERT] Hijacked Peeta's hands closing on Katniss' throat). Jennifer Lawrence also mentioned that she misses having Josh Hutcherson around on set. Sorry Peeniss shippers!
More Liam Hemsworth – now, Everthorne shippers, on the other hand, are in luck – Gale's going to be around a lot more in this movie. In fact, we're all in for a treat, as Hemsworth has given us such thrilling and nuanced performances in the past! (Sarcasm is hard to get across in print, isn't it?).
More Sam Claflin – this one, I'm genuinely excited for (and for more than just superficial reasons, ahem). As is director Francis Lawrence – in an interview with TIME Magazine, he gave credit where credit was due in terms of Sam Claflin re: physical appearance and level of charmingness, but noted that what he really liked was "the emotional side of him." We'll also get some more of Finnick's backstory, something that was missing from Catching Fire.
(Even) more emotional turmoil – Katniss' severe PTSD is one thing on the page in first person narrative, and it's almost certain to be quite another on the big screen: we're guessing that it's going to be fascinating to watch with the Lawrence2 acting/directing team does with all the heavy themes. In his recent Reddit AMA Francis Lawrence even noted that one of the biggest challenges of the film will be "tracking her [Katniss'] emotional trajectory." Judging from Catching Fire, we know they'll do it with aplomb, no matter how difficult.
Bonus: Jennifer Lawrence will sing! (?) – when asked if Katniss will be singing "The Hanging Tree" in Mockingjay, Francis Lawrence coyly demurred, but noted that it was "one of my [his] favorite scenes in the book."
Everyone seems to agree that the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is superior to its predecessor. This is in part due to Suzanne Collins' excellent source material, but it also owes something to its new director, Francis Lawrence. Lawrence, who also directed the Will Smith hit I Am Legend, participated in a Reddit AMA this week. Here are his most interesting answers.
The hardest scene to shoot: "Anything around the water in the Arena was probably the most difficult to shoot because we shot a lot of that in Atlanta at a water park and it was nearing winter and very cold, and the water was 40 degrees, and so the actors had to spend some time in the water and it was very brutal. Just working around water is tough to begin with. It was supposed to be a tropical setting and there would be some mornings when we'd show up to work and there would be frost covering the set."
On Hunger Games bloopers: "Jen is always after me for a blooper reel. There would be a lot of funny stuff that would happen before "Action" and after Cut, Jen would always be falling...She is still mad at me that the editors never put together a blooper reel for Catching Fire, but we could probably have a good one for Mockingjay, and we've only been shooting for five weeks."
His favorite part of the book Catching Fire: "Again I've always been attracted to the first stop on the Victory tour. I think that's where the story really kicks into another gear and you start to understand that the stakes are far greater than just Katniss's."
On Jennifer Lawrence: "Jen is awesome. She truly is. She's a great girl, she's really fun, she's really funny, she's very down to earth, she's super-humble and extremely talented and I work with her more than anybody on set because she works pretty much every day, and she never ceases to surprise me with her performance and her choices but never takes herself seriously and she's very endearing because of it."
On sequels: "The decision to take on a sequel was probably the thing I had to think about the most. I had never taken on a sequel or taken on an episode of television where I did not create the pilot. So I knew there would be certain parameters I would need to exist within. So I re-read the book, and very quickly saw that there was going to be plenty of room for me to grow, and although I was going to stick to certain aesthetic choices Gary had made so the world would feel the same, I felt that Catching Fire offered me a lot of opportunities to grow and to create and to world-build. So I found it quite easy to take on this sequel. I inherited an unbelievable cast. I got to add a bunch of new amazing actors to the mix. I got to build a brand-new arena. I got to create new portions of the Capitol, New Districts, see District 12 in a brand-new way and especially see the characters themselves grow and change."
On the biggest challenge in filming Mockingjay: "It's a tough story emotionally for Katniss, whereas the first two films have been far more straightforward in terms of Katniss' emotional arc, tracking her emotional trajectory is my greatest challenge."
On Finnick: "We will definitely get a sense of Finnick's backstory in Mockingjay, I just don't want to divulge how, but there are very specific scenes where we learn about his past."
On filming emotions: "Wow, how did I get emotion is a pretty tricky question. I think that I personally felt emotional towards the subject material. I emotionally connect to the characters in the movie and the situations they become involved in, so instinctually I shoot them in ways that make me feel the way I do when I read the story. It's hard to break an emotional scene down technically. But I will say that I think most of it has to do with the investment that one has with the characters, especially Katniss, and allowing time to sit and be with them as people while they're onscreen."
On the final scene: "The scene at the end of the film is straight out of the book, and was scripted (dialogue included) pretty much straight out of the book (maybe one additional line), and Katniss' response at the end of the scene was to break down in the book. And partway through shooting the scene, I caught a glimpse of Jen doing something different. I saw that she started to break down, and then shifted into anger, and defiance, and I liked it, I thought it was better, and I then came up with the idea of the final shot looking straight down with her look nearly into the lens for the final moment. So the ending beat of the film was a circumstance of happy, on-set accidents."
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Moviemaker Francis Lawrence had to recast the cat featured in The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire after receiving a special request from author Suzanne Collins. The 2012 release, directed by Gary Ross, featured a black-and-white feline as Prim's pet, despite being described in the books the films are based on as having a yellow coat, inspiring his name Buttercup. The casting complaint has since been rectified for the new action adventure.
Actress Julianne Moore is in talks to join the star-studded cast of The Hunger Games for the final two films in the movie franchise. The Oscar nominee is reportedly being courted by director Francis Lawrence to portray manipulative President Alma Coin in the big screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay novel, which is to be split into two movies, reports Deadline.com.
If the Hannibal star signs on for the project, she will work alongside Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, while Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman are also part of the action adventure series.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second film in the franchise, is set to open in November (13), while The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is due to hit theatres in 2014.
The Hunger Games franchise already has enough to gloat about: the first installment cashed in $685 million worldwide, star Jennifer Lawrence is America's most beloved young actress (she just snagged an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, to boot), and the acclaimed Philip Seymour Hoffman is stepping onto the screen as Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire. But nope, all of that is not enough for Lionsgate.
Deadline reports that Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence want to add Julianne Moore to its all-star cast for the final two sequels based on the Suzanne Collins novel Mockingjay. They are eyeing Moore to play the calculating President Alma Coin.
In the novels, President Coin is credited for positioning Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) as the symbol of the rebellion against the oppressive Capitol's regime, led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). But Katniss is not exactly Coin's biggest fan...
As fans of the book series, we think Moore would be a great addition to the The Hunger Games ensemble. But if Moore ends up not wanting to take on the coveted role, I volunteer as tribute! But Moore would have to be crazy not to sign on to the wildly successful franchise. And come on, who wouldn't want to see Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore go head-to-head? Let the games begin!
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