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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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Divergent has finally found its love interest. Golden Boy's Theo James has just been cast to star opposite Shailene Woodley as "Four" in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's young adult fiction bestseller.
The movie is set in a dystopian future where society divides people into five factions based on personality. Woodley plays the young protagonist Beatrice "Tris" Prior, who is classified a "divergent," a rare, dangerous classification, and is told she will never fit into any specific group. She leaves her family back in the Abnegation (selfless) faction to join the Dauntless (bravery) faction, and uncovers a conspiracy to destroy all "divergents" and start a war between factions. She must find out why she and others like her are considered so dangerous, before it's too late.
A man with a mysterious past, Tobias "Four" Eaton (James) is Tris’s intense yet charismatic instructor of the new Dauntless initiates (those who chose Dauntless and were not born into it) and one of the leaders of the faction. In lazier storytelling, Four's character could have wound up just as romantic fodder for the protaganist, but in Roth's brilliantly-written novel, he has a compelling history with his own shocking secrets that come to light, and he shares the spotlight with Tris. He is more her ally than her love interest as they try to stop a war.
Other YA love interests, perhaps the best-known are Twilight's Edward Cullen and The Hunger Games' Peeta Mellark, spend their entire journey in the books/movies constantly trying to save their love's life. Sure, they may have interesting back stories but their main goal is always saving or protecting their girlfriend. Four has so much more to him than just being Tris's hero and savior. In fact, most of the time he stands back and lets Tris save and defend herself, instilling the brave and fearless values that the Dauntless faction teaches. Tris and Four don't let their relationship take priority over what needs to be done.
RELATED: Jai Courtney Joins 'Divergent': Who Will He Play?
In a joint statement, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, Co-Chairmen of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said, "Theo is not only an incredibly talented actor, he is also who we envisioned as Four when reading Veronica’s novel which has taken the world by storm. As we continue to develop the film, the studio remains committed to providing fans with a movie adaptation that stays as true to the book as possible and we are confident that we have done so with our selection of Shailene and Theo in the leading roles."
"We took our time to find the right actor to fill the role of Four, and Theo is definitely the perfect fit," said Erik Feig, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s President of Production. "Veronica has crafted a truly iconic character in Four and we cannot wait to begin production and bring him and this story to life for millions of fans around the world."
James joins the film – directed by Neil Burger – along with previously cast Woodley, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, and Ansel Elgort. Kate Winslet, Aaron Eckhart, Ray Stevenson and Miles Teller are also closing deals to join the cast, Deadline reports.
Divergent hits theaters March 21, 2014.
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[Photo Credit: Scott Gries/Invision/AP Images]
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Just when you thought MTV couldn't get any lower than Jersey Shore it goes and does just that, at least geographically. The "music channel" is heading south — or rather southwest — for a new show following a group of kids from West Virginia. And in true Chris Christie fashion, the one person speaking out against it is a Senator, Joe Manchin III.
After watching a clip of the yet-to-be-released series — which promises pickups, mud wrestling and lots of camo — the local politician fired off a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman pleading with him to "put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild."
"As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth," Manchin wrote. “I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of Buckwild. Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong."
MTV has yet to comment on the Senator's claims, but as of right now the show is still scheduled to air 12 episodes starting on January 3.
Check out the trailer below to see Buckwild for yourself.
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[Photo Credit: MTV]
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It may not be June, but that sure didn’t stop a bevy of stars from tying the knot this past weekend. From a surprise romance in Italy to a country-themed hoedown near Nashville, celebrities said their vows, cut their cakes, and danced the night away in a number of styles on Saturday and Sunday. But just who said their “I dos” and to whom? Let’s say our congratulations to these five lucky-in-love couples:
Not So Les Miserable
The Dark Knight Rises’ Anne Hathaway married Adam Schulman on Saturday evening at a private estate in Big Sur, California; they celebrated with over 150 family and friends. Hathaway wore a dress designed especially for her by her good friend Valentino. The couple, engaged since last November, had dated for three years prior.
So You Think You Can Marry?
According to the BBC, Cat Deeley (35), So You Think You Can Dance host, married Irish comedian Patrick Kielty (41) on Saturday. The top secret ceremony, planned months in advance, was intimate with only 60 friends and family in attendance at St. Isidore’s College Church in Rome, Italy. In fact, Deeley and Kielty didn’t even tell their friends until only a few days before tying the knot and paid for their guests to fly out to celebrate with them – how generous! The couple met 10 months ago while presenting at the BBC1 talent show Fame Academy and have been together ever since.
Married Again ... And Again!
While Stanley Tucci (51) and Felicity Blunt (31) secretly wed in June, they finally celebrated with family, friends, and celebrities galore in London on Saturday, People reports. The bride’s sister, Looper's Emily Blunt, served as a bridesmaid while Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi performed best man duties. Tucci and Blunt had announced their engagement last November. Tucci’s first wife, Kate, died in 2009 from breast cancer.
Kings of Leon Officially Off the Market
Jared Followill (25) was the last single member of band Kings of Leon. The bassist wed his girlfriend, model Martha Patterson (21), on Saturday 40 miles outside of Nashville in a country-themed wedding, People reports. Followill expressed his newlywed bliss on Twitter by tweeting prior to the ceremony, "Today, I get married. It's the biggest step I've ever taken. I've dreamed about this day since I was a little girl." Then, a day later, "Aaaaaand I'm married. Happiest man in the world."
From the Runway to the Aisle
Lisa D'Amato (30), America's Next Top Model Cycle 5 contestant and Cycle 17 All-Stars winner, married her fiancé Adam Friedman (37) on Sunday in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Castle in Hollywood Hills, reports E! Online. The couple celebrated with a few of D’Amato’s ANTM friends like Bre Scullark and Alexandria Everett, as well as Celebrity Rehab’s Dr. Drew Pinsky.
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Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, former executive producers for Smallville, are taking over the reboot of classic 70’s lady cop show, Charlie’s Angels for ABC. Millar and Gough replace Josh Friedman, who was originally hired to script the remake. Producers Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg and Nancy Juvonen remain unchanged.
Angels will be joining other 70’s remake Hawaii 5-0 in the fall on CBS, putting the final nail in the coffin that was original thought on network television. Not sure what’s going to be worse: a remake that captures the patronizing, objectifying spirit of the original and leads to overused photo poses for years to come, or the ever-popular 'dark' and 'gritty' “re-imagining” , where all the fun is surgically removed and replaced with daddy issues, and everyone is a drug addict or something. So here’s hoping that the Smallville creators do what they do best- create something bland and inoffensive with little relation to the source material.
Source: Hollywood Reporter