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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Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber are among the pop stars who have landed a handful of top nods in the second wave of nominations for the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. Swift's hit song I Knew You Were Trouble and Cyrus' We Can't Stop will go head-to-head with Lovato (Heart Attack), Anna Kendrick (Cups) and Bieber's ex, Selena Gomez (Come & Get It), for the title of Choice Single: Female Artist, while the Baby hitmaker's Beauty And A Beat is up for the male equivalent, alongside Bruno Mars (Locked Out Of Heaven), Pitbull (Feel This Moment), Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z (Suit & Tie), and Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines).
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Swift is also nominated in the categories of best break-up tune and country song.
Candie's Choice Style Icon will be a fight between Cyrus, Lovato, Emma Watson, Lea Michele and Ariana Grande, while the Choice Twitter Personality will be a competition between Bieber, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry and U.S. President Barack Obama.
In the acting categories, Choice Movie Scene Stealer will be a tight race between the likes of Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Kellan Lutz (The Twilight Sada: Breaking Dawn - Part 2) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), while the TV nominees include Cyrus for her stint in Two and a Half Men, as well as Glee co-stars Chord Overstreet and Heather Morris.
Singers Blake Shelton and Adam Levine of The Voice scored nominations for Choice TV Personality - Male, and Lovato (The X Factor) and model Heidi Klum (America's Got Talent) picked up mentions for the female equivalent.
The full list was released on Monday (01Jul13), over a month after the first wave of nominations were announced in May (13).
The winners will be unveiled during a special ceremony in Los Angeles on 11 August (13).
A warning to pervs looking for fake nudes, upskirts and side-boob pics of Hermione Granger: Searching for Emma Watson could crash your computer.
Internet security company McAfee just named the 22-year-old Harry Potter actress the year's 'most dangerous' celebrity to search for online, knocking supermodel and Project Runway host Heidi Klum from the dubious top spot.
Crafty cybercriminals are using Watson's name to trick unsuspecting users into downloading malicious software or to steal their personal information.
In fact, when searching for her online, there's a 12 percent chance of getting infected with dangerous malware.
And it'll take more than a Banishing Charm ("Depulso!") to expunge that sucker.
Here's how the rest of the top 10 rounds out (notice the obvious absence of men on the list):
1. Emma Watson
2. Jessica Biel
3. Eva Mendes
4. Selena Gomez
5. Halle Berry
6. Megan Fox
8. Cameron Diaz
9. Salma Hayek
10. Sofia Vergara Also, if you Harry Potter aficionados, fashion lovers, and Perks of Being a Wallflower fans are wondering, searching for anything related to Watson is risky, not just the nudes. But you're not fooling anyone. We know what you're looking for. [Photo credits: Wenn and NBC] Follow Michelle on Twitter @HWMichelleLee More: 'Perks of Being a Wallflower': Hermione, Percy Jackson and Kevin Walk into a Poster Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and More Assemble for 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' Image David Yates Eyes Emma Watson for 'Your Voice Inside My Head'
From Our Partners:Kristen Stewart Opens Up Post-Cheating Scandal(Celebuzz) Scissors-Wielding Intruder Arrested at Miley Cyrus' House(Celebuzz)
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scooped the Feature Film trophy at the ceremony on Sunday (27Nov11), which applauds the best in children's film, television, games and online media over the last year.
The wizard film, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, also worked its magic on the category voted for by the public, picking up the Bafta Kids' Vote prize.
Stars including former Spandau Ballet musician Martin Kemp, Sugababes singer Heidi Range and British comedian Jack Whitehall were on hand to present the awards.
Other winners during the ceremony at London's Park Lane Hilton hotel included BBC's Newsround show, which was honoured with the Special Award, while TV series Peppa Pig came out on top in the Pre-school Animation category.
Lily Allen has suffered her second miscarriage. She was sixth months pregnant and the baby was due in January. - PeopleHeidi Klum was an alien transformer for Halloween. Why do models have to have Halloween, too? They have the rest of the year to look good. Someone should tell them October 31st is for watching movies on the couch. - Us MagazineYou may feel bad for buying those calcium supplements, but Emma Watson doesn't. She's worth $32 million. - PeoplePETA has offered to pay Lindsay Lohan's rehab bills if she agrees to become a vegan. She is "seriously considering" it. As "seriously" as anything else, that is. - RadarCourteney Cox isn't getting a divorce from David Arquette. They are just separated and keep talking about how whatever the best thing is for them to do will happen. Cue the Ed O'Neill on knowing less now less now than I did before.A spider apparently prevented Katy Perry and Russell Brand from having sex a month before their wedding. They are wisely in the Maldives on their honeymoon, which are known for their bugs. - RadarYour costume wasn't as good as these. - TMZCharlie Sheen is expected to die this week. - RadarCharlie Sheen is not expected to die this week. - TMZZach Galifianakis smoked a joint on Real Time with Bill Maher to show his support for the legalization of marijuana.Then he went home and listened to "I Would Do Anything For Love." - BWEKevin Spacey called recently deceased director, George Hickenlooper, "one of a kind." - MTV