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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It's a classic, beautiful love story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy impregnates girl. Girl's ex-boyfriend releases a single about how he "hit it first." Girl finally gets a divorce from her professional basketball player husband. The public fat-shames girl for her maternity fashion choices. Boy defends his girl during a performance at the 2013 Met Gala.
Okay, okay, so maybe Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's relationship isn't exactly the most normal of stories, but it certainly is one of the most fascinating ones playing out in headlines these days. And at last night's Met Gala, West made a grand gesture that was actually pretty sweet in light of all the flack Kardashian has been receiving lately. He serenaded his lady love, telling her, "Don't let nobody bring you down, 'cause you're so awesome."
Watch the vine of West's impromptu defense of his baby mama below:
Kanye telling Kim not to worry what anyone says that she's awesome. Quite touching really. #metgala vine.co/v/b2iO0Y6P2Eb
— CocoRocha (@cocorocha) May 7, 2013
If only he had ditched the massive amounts of auto tune. Oh well, baby steps.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
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It seems like every mother's mission in life is to forever embarass her kid — Hi mom! I love you! — but Kim Kardashian has taken that mandate one step further. The reality star, who has made a career out of simply being famous, and her baby daddy, Kanye West, decided it was a fantastic idea to pose nude, faux-mid-coitus, on a French magazine cover. And said magazine thought it was a fantastic idea to actually let them! And so, the horrendous nightmare above was allowed to come to fruition. Congratulations, L'Officiel Hommes, you have just fed the ever-growing fire that is Kimye.
As soon as you're finished vomiting out of disgust (go ahead, we'll wait...), let's all take a moment of silence for the dignity of both Kardashian, West, and their unborn fetus. I mean, seriously? Who thought this was a good idea? True, Kardashian did get her "career" started via a sex tape (and maybe that's all she's good at?), but this is just all kinds of wrong.
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Naked pregnant women portraits are classy in the eyes of some, tacky in the eyes of others, but this is a whole new level of terrible. There's no ambiguity here — Kardashian and West are simulating having sex, and that's some declasse stuff right there. Were they going for a, "Hey [insert son or daughter's name here], this is how you were made!" kind of statement? That's like telling someone to imagine their grandparents going at it. You just. Don't. Do. That.
You could rant on and on about how this is just Kardashian's latest ploy at getting attention (because, duh, it is), but that's what the entirety of her career is based on. Haven't we spent enough time debating why on Earth she's famous and why she's able to make insane amounts of money for doing pretty much nothing? It's not like anything will change. She'll just keep doing stunts like the above photo, and we'll just keep writing about them. The cycle never ends.
Let's just hope for her unborn baby's sake that he or she never learns how to use Google. Poor thing.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: L'Officiel Hommes]
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It’s a brand new year! A fresh start. A clean slate. A chance to turn things around. So what do we need? Resolutions of course! From changing our diet, to embracing life's little moments, or mending strained relationships, resolutions are a wonderful way to make you feel amazing for the first two weeks of the year. And for our favorite pop culture characters, this new beginning is the perfect way to fix the messes they made in 2012. As the winter TV premieres draw closer, we at Hollywood.com have channeled the thoughts of our most beloved (and flawed) characters to share with you their resolutions for 2013. Read on for all the confetti-filled commitments from Leslie Knope, Jack Donaghy, Mariah Carey and many more!
Leanne Aguilera's Picks:
Rachel Berry (Glee): I resolve to stop acting like an overly sexual wannabe, fighting with my teachers, and flirting with Brody. I resolve to call Finn more and realize that I can achieve my big city dreams and have a wonderful relationship at the same time. I also resolve to bring back knee socks.
Oliver Queen (Arrow): I resolve to continue making my father proud and take down the criminals of Starling City. But more importantly, I resolve to continue making millions of women swoon with my chiseled abs, huge biceps, and sexy man-scruff.
Penny (The Big Bang Theory): I resolve to realize that Leonard is the greatest boyfriend I am ever going to have and to tell him I love him at least once a week. Okay maybe once every two weeks. Oh and I resolve to (eventually) stop working at The Cheesecake Factory.
Kate Ward's Picks:
Mariah Carey (American Idol): "I will not encourage Nicki Minaj, I will not encourage Nicki Minaj, I will not encourage Nicki Minaj." Mariah Carey, please tell yourself this every day and promise us that you will not provoke your hot-headed fellow American Idol judge into another televised screaming fit in 2013. All we want for Christmas is for you to help American Idol continue to be the only singing reality series left about the contestants, not the judges.
Abbey Stone's Picks:
Walter White Jr. (Breaking Bad): In 2013, I resolved to eat three square meals a day. All foods cannot be breakfast foods.
Leslie Knope (Parks and Rec): I resolve to renew my library card. Just kidding! I will never step foot in a library.
Aly Semigran's Picks:
The Walking Dead Cast: The cast of Walking Dead should revolve to stop eating their showrunners.
Michael Arbeiter's Picks:
Dave Rose (Happy Endings): I resolve to cut down my v-neck usage to only three v's per day.
Michonne (The Walking Dead): I resolve to work on my people skills.
Ted Mosby (HIMYM): I resolve to get to the end already. Sydney Bucksbaum's Picks:
Zoey Hart (Hart of Dixie): I will be happy in my relationship with Wade, and not think about George Tucker, or how much I love George Tucker, or how much I want to marry George Tucker, or how perfect I am for George Tucker, or George Tucker’s beautiful smile… wait, who’s Wade again? The CW: We will give our freshman series at least a full season before making the final judgment call so we won’t make the “Emily Owens MD” mistake again… (I’m not still bitter, or anything…)
Christian Blauvelt's Picks:
Troy Barnes (Community): I resolve to spend less time in the Dreamatorium.
Abed Nadir (Community): I resolve to spend more time in the Dreamatorium.
Shaunna Murphy's Picks:
Entire Miami Metro Dept (Dexter): We resolve to finally get good at our jobs and after seven seasons, catch a serial killer.
Britney Spears (The X Factor): I resolve to learn more adjectives that aren't "amazing" for next season of X Factor.
Carrie Matheson and Deborah Morgan (Homeland/Dexter): I will buy a "cuss jar" and put a quarter in it every time I say "f--k"
Lindsey DiMattina's Picks:
Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time): I swear not to use magic for evil ever again.
Dexter Morgan (Dexter): I will not murder anyone else that does not fit the code.
Alicia Lutes' Picks:
Ron Swanson (Parks and Rec): Ron Swanson does not make resolutions because he is a man run by rational thought, free of emotions (unless you're at a funeral, or the Grand Canyon). Ron Swanson will eat all of the breakfast meats he likes in 2013 because big, grandiose ideas and declarations are as useful to him as big government.
Miami Citizens (Dexter): Similarly to Shaunna's, everyone in the fictional Miami of Dexter should resolve to move, because—damn, that's a lot of serial killers in your town.
Lady Edith (Downton Abbey): I resolve to take up knitting to prepare for my inevitable life of spinsterdom.
Jack Donaghy (30 Rock): I resolve to stay handsome and continue tailoring my suits.
Taylor Swift: I resolve to be less surprised when I win every single award on the planet.
What resolutions would your favorite pop culture characters have? Shout ‘em out in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: FOC (3), ABC, WENN]
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