If you haven't heard of the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" yet, you've probably been offline for the last week or so. Hello, here to fill you in! The challenge is meant to help raise awareness, and donations, for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. To participate, you are supposed to videotape yourself while pouring a bucket of ice water on your head, then nominate your friends to take the challenge. Recently, more and more celebrities have been participating and nominating their celebrity friends. It's been raising a lot of awareness, as well as creating a lot of hot men in wet t-shirts.
Draco Malfoy (I'm sorry, Tom Felton)
Nominated: Ron Weasley (okay, sorry again, Rupter Grint), Josh Gordon, and Paul Hodge
Nominated: His 3rd grade teacher Don Padget, his first acting coach in New York Bob Luke, and his teacher Pat Jackson.
Nominated: Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, Frank Grillo, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan
Nominated: Irving Azoff, Kanye West, and Susan Sarandon
Nominated: Prince Harry
Nominated: Sophia Smith, Pharrell Williams, John C. Reilly, and Will Ferrell
Nominated: Cub Swanson, Peter Tunney, and Olivia Culpo
Nominated: Nick Jonas, Alex Pettyfer, Nelly, Alanna Masterson, and Diplo
Nominated: Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, and Marilyn Manson
Nominated: Robert Pattinson, Matthew McConaughey, and Eric The Actor
Nominated: Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, and Matt Niven
Eddie Redmayne & Jamie Dornan
Eddie Nominated: Sally Light and Jamie Dornan
Jamie Nominated: Andrew Garfield
Nominated: Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo
Robert Downey Jr.
Nominated: Chris Hemsworth and Vincent D'Onofrio
Nominated: Louis Tomlinson, John Terry, and Novak Djokovic
Post by Chris Pratt.
Nominated: Gregory Smith, Nick Offerman, and Dave Bautista
Nominated: Benedict Cumberbatch and Luke Evans
Nominated: John Green, Nat Wolff, and Dylan O'Brien
Nominated: Joe Maganiello
Nomiated: Jimmy Fallon, Steve Higgns, and The Roots
Nominated: Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, and Brad Slater
Check back to see if some of these other Hollywood hotties have taken the challenge! Tweet us which celebrity you want to see take part in #ALSIceBucketChallenge!
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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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Jack and Princess Isabelle, the two central characters of this weekend's Jack and the Giant Slayer, stand apart from most the archetypically generic heroes of Hollywood's fantasy films because they're recognizably human. That doesn't mean they're not culled from the pages of fairy tales — thanks to the stylings of director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) the movie pops with color, imagination, and breezy thrills — but Jack and Isabelle are distinct because they feel human.
Bringing that naturalism to the fantastical are actors Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson, who both worked with Singer to bring your usual fairy tale characters into the 21st century. "One of the things that drew me to Isabelle was that she's different than your normal princess," says Tomlinson. "She's feisty. She doesn't want to be a piece of history as a king's daughter. She wants to experience the real world. She's a peoples' princess." For inspiration, Tomlinson turned to one of her acting heroes. "I went along the lines of Sigourney Weaver type characters. I think she's a very powerful woman. I'm a big Sigourney Weaver fan. Alien is just like… oh God. It's amazing. And in Avatar, she was just inspirational."
RELATED: 'Jack' Might Have Just The Right Amount of Nonsense — Trailer
Hoult has scaled his own beanstalk to become a full-fledged Hollywood leading man, was happy to discover a meaty part in Jack. "It's fun having characters who are a bit more leading in films because you get more time to develop them, but there's also a bit of pressure that comes with that, to carry the film," says the actor. Hoult found ways to make Jack his own, and in turn, a more relatable hero. When he first received the script, Hoult says Jack was written as your typical, bumbling everyman. Together with Singer, he injected his own sense of humor into the part. "We could joke around, bat around lines and like them and keep them in the film. It was quite freeing. We could invent, create stuff as we went along. It wasn't too rigid."
On the set of a blockbuster movie like Jack, the challenge isn't simply getting into character. It's finding a groove then sticking to it while climbing up an enormous beanstalk set or invisible giants start are lifting you into the air. Hoult admits that, while he's done a few movies with heavy special effects and green screen work, he's never done one with characters that would only appear after he's done shooting. "The giants on this… it took imagination and timing to figure out what they're doing on screen so you can figure out how to react and work with them. I don't think my imagination could emulate what ends up on the screen. The performances they capture from Bill Nighy is very subtle and realistic."
Jack's villains were the creation of a crack team of computer graphic experts, enhanced from their original form on set: tennis balls. "For the eyelines it was tennis balls on a stick, which was pretty intense," says Tomlinson. "Very testing as an actress because you've got to make the audience believe there really is the most terrifying, ugly giant sitting in front of you. But it's just an orange tennis ball." Though looking back, Tomlinson wishes that all of her giant costars had been little orange spheres.
RELATED: Review: 'Jack The Giant Slayer' Is Large-Scale Fun
"The stuff for when the giant has to grab me, they made a body mold made of hard plastic that I would lie in and it was on a metal gimbal and they would dress me over that. My armor would go over that. And then the gimple would move, throw you upside down, turn you round and round." Although it may have been physically demanding, the rig put Tomlinson in the right mindset. "Most of the screaming [in the movie] is, 'Ow, God, this hurts!'"
Hoult and Tomlinson trained for two months to prepare for Jack and the Giant Slayer, including horse back riding and practice climbing sessions on the constructed beanstalks. From the sound of Hoult's voice, that was the easy part. What killed him was the hair. It's always the hair.
"I had to make my hair a little longer, so they could make a little texture in the hair," says Hoult. "The occasional wind shear and the gel there. It was a whole thing to itself." The actor says that transformation is why he was drawn to becoming an actor but that the work on Jack was even more demanding than on his previous film, 2013's Warm Bodies. "Funnily enough, it probably took as much makeup to make me look human as it did to make me look like a zombie. Trying to make my hair look like a swashbuckling hero. Very time consuming."
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Turning "Jack and the Beanstalk" into a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy epic sounds like the premise of a MADtv sketch, but director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) finds a happy medium between grand action filmmaking and the dapper whimsy of an Errol Flynn adventure with Jack the Giant Slayer. The movie nods to its storybook origins: the characters are slight, the villains are goofy, and every action is painted in the biggest, boldest, most colorful stroke possible. It's fluffier than Rings, and that's not knock on the film. Jack is light on its toes, making it the perfect entry-level fantasy film for genre buffs and their kids to enjoy.
Jack suffers most of its problems in the first 10 minutes, a plodding, stylized recounting of man's history with giants. It's a tedious stretch that also introduces us to Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a farm boy whose dreams of a thrilling soldier life cloud his ability to do anything right. His kingdom's princess, Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), suffers from the same inability to escape her life. When she finally goes on the run in one last effort to escape her suitor Roderick (Stanley Tucci), the princess takes refuge on Jack's farm. The two instantly connect, but their rainy night in is rudely interrupted by a few misplaced magic beans, which produce a towering beanstalk straight through Jack's bachelor pad. Jack watches as Isabelle and his home disappear into the clouds. The king and his army immediately spring into action to rescue the princess, and Jack's newfound connection to Isabelle drives him to join the team.
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Jack the Giant Slayer's lengthy setup feels frivolous in both script and execution, a series of hurdles in the way of the real fun of the movie. Jack partners with head knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the king's advisor Roderick (like Jafar!) — who hides a secret connection to the towering beasts — to climb the beanstalk and track down Isabelle. Singer knows his way around an action set piece and turns the scaling of the beanstalk, even with CG enhancements, into a dizzying vertigo experience. When the group arrives in "Gantua," the land of the giants, they immediately encounter the floating land's residents and are outnumbered (not to mention, outscaled). Singer has his cake with the design of his monstrous ensemble: they're both cartoonish (maybe a bit so in the case of Bill Nighy's General Fallon, who has a second, blabbering head) and realized with detail and familiar motion. The giants have distinct personalities, and they clash with both their human adversaries and each other. Most of Jack the Giant Slayer is from Jack's ant-like perspective, like a medieval Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
Hoult is up to the physical task of outrunning (and occasionally slaying) the giants, a gimmick that never gets too repetitive thanks to Jack's 90-minute runtime. Livening up the set pieces are McGregor and Tucci, who both chew up their fair share of scenery along the way. McGregor is sprightly as the noble knight. At one point, the actor finds himself wrapped in dough, fated with becoming a human-sized pig in a blanket. Silly, but McGregor knows it — and plays it through for laughs. Tucci has a ball as the diabolical villain, sneering and sniveling against the computer animated giants. The man knows what he can get away with in a fairy tale movie and takes full advantage. The two eventually share a duel and its the highlight of the movie.
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Teased in the trailers, Jack and the Giant Slayer caps off with a grand battle. The movie takes one too many cues from the fantasy films of yore (moments in the score feel directly ripped from Rings), but impressively, Singer's stamp never disappears, even in the biggest scenes. A sequence where the beanstalk is cut and topples over across the open fields is expertly crafted, while the warring finale moves swiftly from small moments, like Elmont and Jack organizing troops for battle, to vistas filled with destruction. When giants attack, they go big. Singer always knows just where to have us looking — at a firing catapult, at a bellowing giant, at knights pushing against the castle gate to ward off intruders — and it's cut together for maximum thrills.
Jack the Giant Slayer is blockbuster entertainment built upon fairy tale logic. Scrutiny does it no justice, but from a giant's point of view — or atop the beanstalk, if you're a pesky human — the big picture is good fun.
What do you think? Tell Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes!
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
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