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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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The former Sabrina, The Teenage Witch star and her husband Mark Wilkerson welcomed their third child, a boy named Tucker, back in September (12).
They hosted a Christening party in New England on Saturday and Hart took to Twitter.com to share her joy with fans, writing, "It's a beautiful foggy New England day to Christen our wonderful little Tucker. Family all around and lots of love!"
The couple is also parents to Mason, seven, and Braydon, four.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The former Sabrina, The Teenage Witch star and her husband Mark Wilkerson welcomed a baby boy named Tucker on Tuesday night (18Sep12).
The tot weighed in at eight pounds, five ounces (3.9 kilograms) and the couple tells People.com in a statement, "Mom and Dad are elated and can't wait to introduce him to his brothers."
Hart and Wilkerson are already parents to Mason, six, and Braydon, four.
Want to feel old? Ultimate girl next door and Clarissa (you know, the one who Explains it All) now has three children. Three! What would Sam say? Melissa Joan Hart, 36, and her husband Mark Wilkerson, 35, welcomed their third son, Tucker, at 10 PM on Tuesday, People reports. Tucker is now at home with his mom, dad, and two older brothers, Braydon, 4, and Mason, 6.
According to People, Tucker is 8 lbs., 5 oz, and his parents have yet to decide on his middle name. Hart and Wilkerson's rep tells the magazine, “Mom and Dad are elated and can't wait to introduce him to his brothers.”
When Hart announced her pregnancy in May, she told People that she wanted to be surprised by the sex of her baby. “We don’t want to know. We found out both other times, but this one we want [it to be] a surprise," she said. Now that they have welcomed their baby boy, Hart and Wilkerson can start painting the nursery blue. (Or, on second thought, they can pick something gender-neutral and let the boy decide his favorite color for himself).
Congrats Melissa and Mark!
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The former Sabrina, The Teenage Witch star and her husband Mark Wilkerson will welcome the third addition to their family this autumn (12) and Hart was joined by friends, including fellow actresses Soleil Moon Frye, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kellie Martin, and her Melissa and Joey TV co-star Taylor Spreitler, at The Little Door restaurant in Los Angeles last week to mark the occasion.
Guests granted her kind-hearted request and brought unwrapped presents for donation to Operation Shower, which provides gifts for parents-to-be in the U.S. military.
Hart tells People.com, "After two precious babies and a successful career, I didn't want people to spend money on me and the baby. We wanted to help out families that needed a hand and decided to donate baby goods to military families."
And Hart admits she can't wait to meet her new baby - because this time she and her husband have decided to keep the tot's sex a secret.
She tells People.com, "We always wanted the mystery the other two times around but the first time we gave into pressure from everyone and curiosity, and the second time our ultrasound technician gave it away before we had a chance to stop them.
"I'm anticipating meeting this baby more than the other two before. I can recognise every little movement this time and I'm already in love."
Hart and Wilkerson, who wed in 2003, are also parents to sons Mason, six, and Braydon, four.
The former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star is expecting her third child with her husband Mark Wilkerson.
The star is a busy mum to six-year-old Mason and Braydon, four, and got herself as healthy as possible after deciding to try for another baby.
She says, "I was in really good shape before I got pregnant with this one. I tried to set myself up. For about a year I made sure I took the right vitamins and didn't take artificial sweeteners. I did take some precautions.
"I feel like it's going to be a strong baby (but) if the kicks get stronger, I don't know if I can handle it."
Earlier this week (begs17Apr12), the former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star, 36, confirmed reports she was expecting her third child with her husband Mark Wilkerson - but not everyone was as ecstatic about the pregnancy news as she was, and on Thursday (19Apr12) she was forced to take to her Twitter.com page to calm fans' fears that her unborn baby would delay plans for a new season of the popular family show.
She tweets, "To all the fans concerned about Melissa&Joey will be affected by my baby bump;don't be! We finished Season 2& start 3 after baby arrives!"
Season two of Melissa & Joey is due to premiere on 30 May (12).
Hart and Wilkerson wed in 2003 and are already parents to sons Mason, six, and Braydon, three.
Melissa Joan Hart is gearing up to become a mother... again. The Melissa & Joey star (who turned 36 this morning), announced on Twitter on Tuesday that she and her husband Mark Wilkerson are expecting child number three sometime later this year.
“(Early) Happy Birthday to me! And baby makes 3!” the actress posted. She also shared a pregnancy photo of herself surrounded by her hubby and their two boys Braydon Hart, 4, and Mason Walter, 6 — who both sweetly have their hands on her belly.
Maybe the stork will bring Hart's new baby through a ladder in the window.
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The former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star, who turns 36 on Wednesday (18Apr12), recently told Life & Style magazine she and husband Mark Wilkerson were interested in adopting a child - but it appears they're going the natural route first.
She told the publication, "We definitely want to add to our family. We're interested in adopting as well. We're just starting to explore that."
Hart and Wilkerson wed in 2003, and they had their first child, Mason, in 2006. They welcomed their second son, Braydon, in 2008.