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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Source: The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog is reporting that Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures have decided to give Zack Snyder’s animated adaptation of the popular children’s book series, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a new title. The film will now be called 'Legend of the Guardians'. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on September 24th, 2010.
The film is based on the first three installments of the book series: The Capture, The Journey, and The Rescue.
The story follows a young barn owl named Soren (Jim Sturgess), who is kidnapped by owls of St. Aggie’s,where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers. He and his new friends escape to the island of Ga’Hoole, to assist its noble, wise owls who fight the army being created by the wicked rulers of St. Aggie’s.
The film features the voice talent of Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin and Helen Mirren.
Thriller The Constant Gardener was the big winner at last night's British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), triumphing in three main categories, including Best Film.
The Fernando Meirelles-directed adaptation of John Le Carre's best-selling novel was named Best British Independent Film, while its stars Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes were named Best Actress and Best Actor respectively at the star-studded ceremony in London's Hammersmith Palais.
Following close behind was horror movie The Descent with two wins, with filmmaker Neil Marshall picking up Best Director and editor Jon Harris receiving Best Technical Achievement.
Young star Keira Knightley collected the Variety UK Personality of the Year for her performances in Pride and Prejudice, The Jacket and Domino, while Broken Flowers actress Tilda Swinton was the recipient of the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The full list of winners is:
Best British Independent Film: The Constant Gardener
Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener
Best Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Best Supporting Actor/Actress: Rosamund Pike, The Libertine
Most Promising Newcomer: Emily Barclay, In My Father's Den
Best Director: Neil Marshall, The Descent
Best Screenplay: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Millions
Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director): Annie Griffin, Festival
Best Technical Achievement: Jon Harris (editing), The Descent
Best Achievement In Production: Gypo!
Best Foreign Film: Downfall
Best Documentary: Liberace of Baghdad
The Raindance Award: Evil Aliens
Richard Harris Award: Tilda Swinton
Variety UK Personality of the Year Award: Keira Knightley
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