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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From Joss Whedon who parlayed his Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse cred to directing The Avengers to Alan Taylor, whose Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos credits led to Thor: The Dark World, we're taking a look at big screen directors who started in TV. To read more, check out the story at Studio System News!
Zade Rosenthal/Marvel Studios
Superman and Batman will soon be teaming up in the Man of Steel sequel, but what about Supergirl and Batgirl? Every day it seems there’s another superhero movie at the box office raking in millions of dollars. What do all these movies have in common besides big action sequences, city destruction, and superpowers? Testosterone.
Although the comic book pages are full of cool female characters with a trick or two up their sleeves, few have made the leap onto the silver screen. And the ones who have? The less said about Catwoman or Electra, the better. Instead of another super movie starring a studly dude, let’s give some of these cool ladies a try.
Black WidowAfter appearances in the smash hit The Avengers as well as Iron Man 2 and the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier, isn’t it about time Natasha Romanoff gets her own starring vehicle to play her spy games?
Wonder WomanSeriously, how is it possible that one of the most iconic superheroes still hasn’t made the jump to the large screen? What is it that makes Wonder Woman’s story so hard to adapt? From the failed Joss Whedon movie treatment to the even more failed David E. Kelly television pilot, poor Wondy has been in development purgatory for too long.
BatgirlDC Comics is pretty desperate to extend their most famous and critically appreciated franchise. Why not pick up the dynamic tale of Barbara Gordon? Batgirl would have plenty of thrills and include the gritty realism the new Batman movies are known for when Barbara is paralyzed and transitions into super hacker Oracle.
20th Century Fox/Everett Collection
StormOne of the few prominent women of color in comic books, Storm has been mostly sidelined in the big-budget X-Men movies. The solution, obviously, is to give the superheroine her own franchise. After all, there’s already been two Wolverine movies!
Spider-WomanInstead of another reboot of Spider-Man, why didn’t Marvel chose to tell the story of Spider-Woman instead? Jessica starts out as a villain but becomes a hero, making her arc an interesting spin on the usual superhero fare.
Captain Marvel It's almost unbelievable that Marvel is adapting Ant-Man for the big screen before one of their flagship titles, the tough-as-nails Captain Marvel. It’s high past time superpowered fighter pilot Carol Danvers made her debut on the big screen.
What do you think? What super ladies do you want to see grace the big screen? Share in the comments!
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Artemis Fowl has been a very long time in the making, but it looks like the film is finally happening! The best-selling teen book about a boy genius's interaction with the fantasy world was in talks to become a film 12 years ago. Only recently has Disney announced its partnership with Harvey Weinstein in resurrecting the film. Michael Goldenberg, who adapted the script for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is set to write for it, and Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro will executive produce the film.
Patient fans of the books have been eagerly awaiting the cast list. Many fans believe Asa Butterfield, of Hugo and the upcoming Ender's Game, should play the eponymous Artemis. Fowl author Eoin Colfer has stated his preference for Irish actress Saoirse Ronan to play elf Holly Short, the female protagonist. Colfer says he wants the cast to be Irish, which is why he favors Ronan, but fans have pointed out that from the book’s description, Holly Short is a woman of color. No release date has yet been set for the film.
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Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is moving forward with the big screen adaptation of author Eoin Colfer's children's book series Artemis Fowl. The producer has teamed up with bosses at Disney to bring the first two novels in the eight-book collection to movie theatres. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix screenwriter Michael Goldenberg will pen the script, while Robert De Niro and his business partner Jane Rosenthal will executive produce.
Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro are teaming up on the big screen again for the movie adaptation of Ann Leary's bestseller The Good House. The project - which will be adapted for the cinema by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham, who worked with Streep in The Hours - will be the fourth film the actress and De Niro have worked on together.
De Niro's business partner Jane Rosenthal, who picked up the rights to the book, will produce.
Streep will play a recovering alcoholic who rekindles a romance with a former flame, played by De Niro, in a sleepy New England town.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco were initially in place to take on leading roles in Ariel Vromen's new real-life gangster movie The Iceman, but pregnancy and family tragedy got in the way. The roles eventually went to Winona Ryder, as notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski's partner Deborah, and Chris Evans, as gangster Mr. Freezy.
Vromen tells WENN, "Maggie got pregnant, but Winona is so perfect for the role because she's so fragile compared to him, so the camaraderie was really working between them. She's a great actress and was hiding for a while, so I think this movie can really bring her back into the spotlight.
"And James Franco was originally supposed to play Mr. Freezy but his father passed away while they were filming Oz: The Great & Powerful, and they pushed the production, so he couldn't make it. Chris saved us and came down and supported the film."
But Franco still insisted on being part of the project: "James felt guilty so he came to do a scene - as an assigned hit."
The director admits he was blindsided by the acting talents of former Friends star David Schwimmer, who he was initially against casting as Josh Rosenthal.
He reveals, "I was averse to casting Schwimmer; I didn't see it at all. I liked him, he was a good theatre actor and I saw him in a play in Chicago and I'm a huge fan of Friends, but, in a Mafia movie, David Schwimmer really didn't work out for me.
"David went back to New York and called a friend of his who is a make-up artist and they created the look for the role with the ponytail and moustache. Then David sent me an audition tape with that look and I thought, 'OK, I'll take the chance'."
Actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Evan Rachel Wood and Sienna Miller helped Robert De Niro kick off the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday (16Apr13) by attending the annual Vanity Fair gala in New York. The bash, hosted by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and festival co-founders De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, is traditionally held on the eve of the Big Apple movie event and a slew of celebrities flocked to New York's State Supreme Courthouse to celebrate.
Pregnant Wood and British beauty Miller both attended the party without their respective partners, Jamie Bell and Tom Sturridge, while fellow guests included Goldberg, Mira Sorvino, Gretchen Mol, model Karolina Kurkova, director Baz Luhrmann, Jimmy Buffett, actor Christopher Walken and author Salman Rushdie.
Security at the Manhattan venue was stepped up in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday (15Apr13), but Rosenthal insisted the event had to go on.
She said, "Our hearts are with everyone in Boston. We can't let terror or fear deter us from doing anything, so we're going on with our film festival and, as the President (Barack Obama) and the Mayor (Michael Bloomberg) says, we're gonna keep on doing what we do."
The Tribeca Film Festival officially opened on Wednesday (17Apr13) and runs until 28 April (13).
Robert De Niro's TriBeca Film Festival is to honour late movie icon Nora Ephron by creating a prize in her memory. The $25,000 (£15,625) award, dubbed The Nora, will be handed to a female writer or director who "embodies the spirit and vision" of the Sleepless In Seattle filmmaker, who lost her battle with cancer last June (12).
The recipient of the first accolade is to be named at the annual Women's Filmmaker Brunch on 25 April (13).
The festival's co-founder Jane Rosenthal, who will present the inaugural trophy, says, "Nora Ephron's work influenced screenwriters, filmmakers and moviegoers. She was a great friend to the festival since its inception, and I had the privilege to know her and be in absolute awe of her. She did it all brilliantly, with wit and wisdom that went straight to the heart."
The Hollywood veteran wants to expand his independent movie showcase, which is held annually in Park City, Utah, to the Brooklyn area, reports New York Post gossip column Page Six.
According to the publication, Redford is in talks to launch a "large-scale New York festival" which would rival the city's yearly Tribeca Film Festival, which De Niro co-founded in 2002 with producer Jane Rosenthal.
A Sundance spokesperson says, "We continue to seek new programmatic opportunities in regions across the country and internationally."
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival will kick off in Utah next Thursday (17Jan13), and will feature movies from Hollywood stars Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Amanda Seyfried.