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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Actress Minka Kelly and her Captain America Chris Evans have split for a second time, according to a U.S. report. Kelly and Evans briefly dated in 2007 and reunited in 2012, but the couple has reportedly split again.
A source tells Us Weekly magazine, "It didn't make sense for them to be together right now."
Kelly previously dated American baseball player Derek Jeter from 2008 to 2011 and Evans was with actress Jessica Biel from 2004 to 2006.
Actress Jessica Lowndes has split from her British beau Thom Evans, according to a U.K. report. The pair began dating after meeting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles earlier this year (13). Ironically, they were already linked through their exes - Lowndes has dated rugby star Danny Cipriani, who had a romance with Evans' former partner Kelly Brook.
However, after trying to balance a long distance romance with their careers, the couple has decided to call it a day.
A source tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "It was a mutual decision and Jessica and Thom have been on and off for quite a while now.
"Jessica works mostly in America while Thom's modelling work is in the U.K. They have realised it is totally unfeasible trying to maintain a relationship from different sides of The Pond."
British model/actress Kelly Brook has been linked to yet another rugby player, according to a U.K. report. The Piranha 3D star is well known for her love of hunky sportsmen, and has dated a string of rugby stars in recent years.
She has had previous relationships with Thom Evans, to whom she was engaged, and had an on/off romance with Danny Cipriani, who she split from earlier this year (13) amid allegations he was cheating.
Now Brook has fallen for England player James Haskell, who she met earlier this month (Sep13) at a charity boxing match in London.
A source tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "The pair of them have spoken several times this week. The plan now is for some discreet dates. It's early days, but she thinks he's really handsome.
"She thinks it's slightly ironic that he's another rugby player."
The news comes amid reports Brook was spotted dinning with her ex Cipriani on Saturday (28Sep13).
Do you love Top Model? Know your pot ledom from your booty tooch?
Us too. When we think of the life skills and foreign languages we could have mastered instead of watching almost 20 whole seasons (sorry: CYCLES), we’re all, "whatever, pass the nachos."
But like us, are you an America’s Next Top Model fan who’s endured the last five cycles with more than a little ennui? America, are you thinking what we’re thinking? When did Tyra’s super Bankable franchise jump the shark?
We’ve endured All-Stars, a college edition, a plus-size cycle and a short girl season. Tyra’s introduced social media – somewhat hamfistedly – in the form of new judge and fashion blogger Bryanboy, social media votes and Instagram casting. On the judging panel, we have Katy Perry’s stylist Johnny Wujeck, bad New York fashion b**ch Kelly Cutrone AND eye candy in the form of male model Rob Evans (drool!).
But has the cool-over worked? Did the show lose its charm, along with its entire panel of fashion homebodies? Tell us you’re not kind of missing silver (rinsed) Canadian fox Jay Manuel, "sexy" bald guy Nigel Barker, cuddly mother figure Twiggy and, of course, Miss J: the tranny with the size eleven spike heels. Sure, the panel was more Velveeta than Vogue; but Tyra’s desire to roll with fashion’s cool kids highlights, rather than masks, the fact that she was never exactly haute couture herself.
From her alleged tormentor (and bonafide supermodel) Naomi Campbell ignoring her on her own talkshow, to Karl Lagerfeld saying he’s never heard of her, Tyra has always been more eager-to-please cocker spaniel than lithe fashion greyhound.
You can keep the hashtags (and the boys of Cycle 20), Tyra. But when ratings dip despite your most valiant efforts to chase them, maybe it’s time to look under the weave for your show’s perfectly nice, apple pie roots.
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Unlucky-in-love actress Kelly Brook has been linked to a friend of soccer superstar David Beckham after they were photographed together on a night out. The Piranha 3D beauty split from rugby ace Danny Cipriani last month (Aug13) amid allegations he had cheated on her, and the break-up marked the end of another high-profile romance for Brook.
She has previously dated Hollywood hunks Billy Zane and Jason Statham, and had a relationship with another rugby star, Thom Evans, but Brook is now said to be getting over her split from Cipriani with sports agent Dave Gardner.
The rumours were sparked when they were spotted out together at London nightclub Mahiki over the weekend (14-15Sep13).
British actress/model Kelly Brook is set to open up about her romances with some of Hollywood's leading men in a revealing new autobiography, according to a U.K. report. The Piranha 3D star has dated hunks including action man Jason Statham and Titanic star Billy Zane and she is now reportedly poised to tell all after signing a $300,000 (£200,000) deal with publishing house Pan Macmillan.
A source tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "Kelly has kept quite guarded over the details of her past heartbreak and now, finally, she's ready to share her feelings with the world."
In the book, Brook will also reportedly open up about her devastating miscarriage in 2011, when she lost a baby with her ex-boyfriend Thom Evans.
The memoirs are said to have been scheduled for release later this year (13).
Actress Jessica Lowndes was taken aback when she introduced her new British beau Thom Evans to her family, because he instantly bonded with her father over their shared love of sport. The 90210 star sparked rumours she was dating British model Kelly Brook's ex in March (13) when she uploaded pictures of the pair kissing on photosharing website Instagram.
The pair has now opened up about the whirlwind romance in an interview with the U.K.'s OK! magazine, and Lowndes has revealed her family in Canada is smitten with the former rugby player.
She says, "He was like a young version of my dad. They were inseparable - it freaked me out! My dad is used to a house full of women with me, my sister and my mum, so the second they met they hung out constantly. I know how crazy it sounds after such a short amount of time, but when you know, you know."
Evans adds, "I was slightly apprehensive at first, but they were the nicest people. I even went to an ice hockey game with her dad! We bought the T-shirt, the jersey, wore the cap back to front. He's super into his fitness and we had lots in common, so it was a piece of cake."
Evans split from Brook in January (12) after two years together. She is now back with her ex-boyfriend Danny Cipriani, who has also been linked to Lowndes in the past.
Actor Chris Evans and his girlfriend Minka Kelly helped Jessica Alba celebrate her 32nd birthday on Saturday (27Apr13) by attending her special bash at Bootsy Bellows in Los Angeles. Twilight hunk Cam Gigandet was also at the party.
British actress/model Kelly Brook's boyfriend Danny Cipriani has been released from hospital after he was run over by a bus on Wednesday (24Apr13). The rugby player was hit by a double-decker after stepping into the road on a night out in Leeds, England and he was taken to a nearby medical facility.
Doctors kept the sportsman in overnight for observation, but Cipriani has now been discharged from hospital.
In a series of posts on his Twitter.com page on Thursday (25Apr13), he writes, "Thank you for all the well wishes, means a lot. My ribs are a bit sore. Feel like I've been hit by a bus. Out of hospital now. Once again, thank you for the messages."
Brook and Cipriani are rumoured to be a couple again following her split from rival rugby star Thom Evans in January (13), but neither star has spoken out about the alleged reconciliation.