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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Sci-fi movie Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Garner were all double winners at last night's People's Choice Awards.
The final installment of George Lucas' adventure series was named favorite movie and favorite movie drama at a star-studded ceremony at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium.
Alias beauty Jennifer Garner, who gave birth to baby daughter Violet last year, won the Female Action Star and Female TV star awards--while DeGeneres was honored as Favorite Daytime Talk Show Host and Funny Female Star.
Johnny Depp was named Favorite Male Movie Star and Sandra Bullock picked up Favorite Female Movie Star, seeing off competition from Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Female Movie Star: Sandra Bullock
Male Movie Star: Johnny Depp
Leading Lady: Reese Witherspoon
Leading Man: Brad Pitt
Female Action Star: Jennifer Garner
Male Action Star: Matthew McConaughey
On-screen Match Up: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Movie Comedy: Wedding Crashers
Movie Drama: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Family Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Movie: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Female Performer: Kelly Clarkson
Male Performer: Tim McGraw
Group: Green Day
Song from a Movie: “These Boots (Are Made For Walking)” as performed by Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard
New TV Comedy: My Name Is Earl
New TV Drama: Prison Break
Comedy: Everybody Loves Raymond
Drama: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Reality Show, Competition: American Idol
Reality Show, Other: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Late Night Talk Show Host: Jay Leno
Daytime Talk Show Host: Ellen DeGeneres
Female TV Star: Jennifer Garner
Male TV Star: Ray Romano
Funny Female Star: Ellen DeGeneres
Funny Male Star: Adam Sandler
Crest Whitestrips Fans Favourite Smile: Cameron Diaz
Nice 'N Easy Fans Favorite Hair: Faith Hill
Olay Total Effects Fans Favorite Look: Jennifer Aniston
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
The stars will certainly be out come January 10 when the 32nd People’s Choice Awards take place in Hollywood.
The nominees include the likes of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz and Adam Sandler, to name just a few A-listers.
The show is a mash-up of movies, television and music, thus featuring unprecedented stars set to roam the Red Carpet.
One of the many subplots to emerge will be the potential on-stage pairing of Jolie and Pitt, since they’re nominated in the Favorite On-Screen Match-up category for Mr. And Mrs. Smith.
And you can help make that moment a reality by casting your votes.
And the nominees are:
Favorite Female Movie Star:
Favorite Male Movie Star:
Samuel L. Jackson
Favorite Leading Lady:
Favorite Leading Man:
Favorite Female Action Star:
Favorite Male Action Star:
Favorite On-Screen Match-Up:
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. And Mrs. Smith
Chris Rockand Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers
Favorite New TV Comedy:
Everybody Hates Chris
How I Met Your Mother
My Name Is Earl
Favorite New TV Drama:
Commander in Chief
Favorite TV Comedy:
Everybody Loves Raymond
That '70s Show
Favorite TV Drama:
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Law & Order: SVU
Favorite Reality Show Competition:
Favorite Reality Show--Other:
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Favorite Late Night Talk Show Host:
Favorite Daytime Talk Show Host:
Regis Philbin & Kelly Ripa
Favorite Female TV Star:
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Favorite Male TV Star:
Favorite Female Performer:
Favorite Male Performer:
The Black-Eyed Peas
Favorite Funny Female Star:
Favorite Funny Male Star:
MD Governor's Wife Wouldn't Really Shoot Britney
According to a statement made by a spokesperson for Kendal Ehrlich, wife of Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, the first lady's remark that she would shoot pop star Britney Spears if she had the chance was an "inadvertent figure of speech," The Associated Press reports. Ehrlich made the statement Friday while speaking at a domestic violence conference at Hood College in Frederick, MD. Referring to her advocacy for more women to embrace education, Ehrlich remarked, "It is incredibly important to get that message to young women. You know, really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would." Meghann Siwinski, a spokeswoman for the first lady, attributed the comment to Ehrlich's concerns, as a mother, about the influence of pop culture over young children.
In Other Britney News…
A Santa Monica judge issued an injunction Tuesday ordering Japanese businessman Masahiko Shizawa not to come within 300 yards of Spears for the next three years, following accusations that Shizawa had been "tracking" the pop icon, sending her photos of himself, and attempting to contact Spears at both her and her parents' homes. While Superior Court Judge Alan Haber ruled that Shizawa was "abnormally obsessed and fixated with Spears," Shizawa's lawyer insisted that his client is merely "in love."
Beyonce To Delve Into Fashion
Pop diva Beyonce Knowles and her mother Tina are set to release two lines of clothing by next year Women's Wear Daily reported Monday. Beyonce joins artists Jennifer Lopez, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Jay-Z as the latest recording artist to try to cross over into the fashion industry. According to the Knowles design duo, the first collection of clothing will consist of more "funky and hip-hop" items, including T-shirts and jeans, while the second line will feature more dressy styles. "People my age love fashion and want to dress in designer clothes, but can't afford it. I want to do something that is affordable, but sophisticated and sexy and feminine--something I would wear," the 22-year-old pop singer stated.
Will "Siegfried & Roy" Go On?
Despite the fact that his co-star, Roy Horn, 59, was critically bitten and dragged off stage by a 600-pound tiger during their show in Friday, Siegfried Fischbacher, 64, insists that the team's performing career is not finished. "What happened does not mean it's ended…Our show will go on. We've always been fighters. The history of 'Siegfried & Roy' is nowhere near its conclusion," the illusionist said to Reuters. However, doctors at this point maintain that it is far too early to know to what extent Horn will recover. Neurosurgeon Derek Duke described Roy's condition as "critical" and added that his survival "is all but miraculous," considering the nature of his injuries. Prior to this incident, the "Siegfried & Roy" show had been performed some 5,700 times without any serious mishaps.
2 Fast 2 Furious Video Sales Explode Off the Line
After only one week of availability on DVD and VHS, the fast-paced action movie 2 Fast 2 Furious has pulled in $65 million in video sales and rentals. Since Sept. 30, when the film was released by Universal Studios Home Video, some 3.5 million copies of the DVD, and 700,000 copies of the VHS version of the sequel to The Fast and the Furious have been sold or rented. This surpasses the mark left by the original title, which sold 2.9 million copies on DVD. Together, the two films constitute Universal's most profitable DVD franchise to date.
CBS Takes Top Ratings Second Week in a Row
With CSI: Crime Scene Investigation leading the way as the nation's top show, CBS easily came out on top of the ratings race for the second week of the fall television season. Along with CBS, NBC has dominated series television, though some of that network's key programs, such as Friends and Frasier, have shown drops in their popularity. For the second week of the fall season, CBS attracted an average of 13.1 million viewers, followed by NBC (10.9 million), ABC (9.8 million), Fox (9.6 million), the WB (4.6 million), and UPN (3.4 million). The top 10 shows for the week were CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, Friends, NBC, ER, NBC, Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, Survivor: Pearl Islands, CBS, NFL Monday Night Football, ABC, Law & Order, NBC, CSI: Miami, CBS, Scrubs, NBC, and Will & Grace, NBC.
Spielberg To Team Up with Sci-Fi Again
Following the success of the Sci-Fi Channel's 20-hour miniseries Taken, which was co-written and produced by director Steven Spielberg, the two parties have announced that they will collaborate once again, according to Reuters. Though no details are available as yet, the cable network has said that the upcoming miniseries trilogy, titled Nine Lives, will be "an epic story of love, death, and beyond." Spielberg has signed on to executive produce the new series, along with Les Bohem, who will also write.
NBC, Vivendi Announce Final Merger Agreement
According to AP, General Electric's NBC and Vivendi Universal have reached a merger agreement that will create a new media giant, called NBC Universal, worth an estimated $13 billion per year. The finalized version of he agreement had not changed much from preliminary plans that were outlined a month ago. The deal will enable Vivendi to begin reducing the debt left under former management, and allow NBC to be more competitive against other media giants such as AOL Time Warner and Walt Disney.
Roll Call: "Real Women" Director Joins Halle Berry Film; Wilson, Vaughn Invited to Wedding
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Patricia Cardoso, director of the HBO film Real Women Have Curves, has signed on to direct an upcoming Halle Berry comedy/drama titled Nappily Ever After. Based on the Trisha Thomas novel, the story follows a woman's rediscovery of life after shaving off her hair and showing her boyfriend the door…The Hollywood Reporter also reports that actors Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are involved in talks to appear together in the romantic comedy entitled The Wedding Crashers. In the film, two friends routinely sneak into weddings as a way to meet women, until one of them falls in love. In January, Wilson will appear in the Warner Bros. thriller The Big Bounce.
Sarah Kozer, one of the three women finalists on Fox's reality series Joe Millionaire, has starred in about a dozen bondage and fetish films under the stage name "Cindy Schubert," the Web site The Smoking Gun reported Wednesday. Often bound and gagged--but usually clothed--Kozer appeared in films such as Hogtied and Helpless Heroine. The pictures on the Web site depict Kozer dressed as a cheerleader or a nurse, and in some instances she is seen tying up men. A spokesman for Fox, which describes her occupation as "sales and design" on the show's Web site, told Reuters they do not comment on the personal lives of our reality show contestants. The show, a surprise hit for the network, has 20 women competing for the affections of a man they believe to be worth $50 million.
Sadie Frost, the wife of actor Jude Law, is suffering from severe postnatal depression and was admitted to Cromwell Hospital in London over the weekend, The Associated Press reports. "This depression can be a serious thing and it has left Sadie feeling very sad and run down and she is just trying to get a handle on it," Law said in a statement. "She has had so much on her plate recently and realizes she needs help and to catch her breath." The couple's third child, Rudy, was born prematurely in September.
Actor Colin Farrell's latest role appears to be playing boyfriend to pop princess Britney Spears. According to People.com, Farrell and Spears have been gallivanting around Tinseltown and were seen hand-in-hand at the Hollywood premiere of The Recruit Tuesday. Farrell, however, told TV's Entertainment Tonight that the two were just friends. "Seriously, we just met a week ago, (we're) having a laugh." The pair met when Spears visited the set of Farrell's movie S.W.A.T..
Russell Crowe has reluctantly backed out of this year's Orange British Academy Film Awards ceremony, People.com reports. Traditionally, last year's winners act as this year's presenters, but Crowe said he needs to help his girlfriend, Danielle Spencer, with their upcoming nuptials. Last year Crowe, who won best actor for his performance in A Beautiful Mind, manhandled a producer who edited his acceptance speech for TV."I am flattered to hear of the invitation to attend BAFTA through the press," Crowe told Australia's Associated Press. "Unfortunately I have a prior engagement, so to speak."
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer gave birth to her first child, a boy, on Thursday after being admitted to hospital for a Caesarian section, her spokeswoman told Reuters. Schiffer, 32, was admitted to the exclusive Portland Hospital in central London for a planned delivery with her husband, British film producer Matthew Vaughn, at her side. "Claudia crushed one of her feet in an accident in November and has been on crutches ever since so doctors advised her against a natural delivery," her spokeswoman said.
Frances McDormand, who won on Oscar for her role in Fargo, is set to join Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves in an untitled Columbia Pictures comedy written and directed by Nancy Meyers (What Women Want). According to Variety, McDormand will play the sister of Keaton, who takes up with the mature boyfriend (Nicholson) of her daughter after he has a heart attack and convalesces at her Hampton house. McDormand's character helps her choose between Nicholson's character and a young dashing doctor, played by Reeves.
TV veteran Ken Kwapis is set to direct the coming-of-age feature The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for Warner Bros., Variety reports. The project, based on Ann Brashares' best-selling novel, revolves around four best friends who share a magical pair of jeans that unites them when for the first time they are forced to separate. Production is expected to start early this summer, though cast and locations have not yet been chosen.
TV producer David E. Kelley is furious at ABC for moving his hit legal drama The Practice to Monday nights. "They've killed it in one fell swoop," Kelley told Variety. "I would hope (ABC) would act in their own self-interest and put it back where it was doing well." The Practice consistently ranked No. 1 in its Sunday night time slot, but finished fourth in its first airing Monday opposite Joe Millionaire on Fox, NBC's drama Third Watch and the CBS comedies Everybody Loves Raymond and Still Standing.
Friends star Courteney Cox will create and executive produce a new home improvement program set to debut this fall on the cable channel WE: Women's Entertainment. Mix It Up is described by the network as "an unscripted, Trading Spaces-like show" that will track people with diverse tastes who move in together, People.com reports. Production of the first 13 episodes is due to start in the spring or summer.
Earvin 'Magic' Johnson will co-executive produce and appear in a new reality series pitting the country's best "street" basketball players against each other. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Who's Got Game will yield 12 athletes who will compete once production begins this spring in New York. The winner will receive $100,000 in cash and have his hometown court revamped and named after him. The focus of the series, which will premiere on MTV, will alternate between the elimination tournament and off-court looks into their personal lives.