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
The record boss hoping to release Amanda Bynes' new rap album has offered to help her parents pay for the actress' legal and medical bills in a bid to get her out of hospital. The Hairspray star was arrested last month (Jul13) after allegedly starting a small fire on a driveway in her parents' neighbourhood of Thousand Oaks, California. She was initially hospitalised for 72 hours, but a court extended her stay following concerns about her ongoing mental health, and she has since transferred to UCLA Medical Center at the request of her parents, who have won a temporary conservatorship over the actress.
And as the family awaits a court decision about the conservatorship, Chinga Chang Records boss Daniel Herman reveals Bynes has been calling to him to discuss her record deal.
He tells blogger Perez Hilton, "I've talked with Amanda a few times and she wants out. She sounded normal, lucid, chill and focused."
And he still has big plans for the troubled actress, adding, "My record offer to Amanda has not changed one bit in terms of the vision... I believe Amanda can work out her issues outside of a treatment centre and I'm willing do anything in my power to make that a reality... even fund it. (Her mother) Lynn knows I care about Amanda getting better before we hit the studio."
TV personality Nick Cannon has attempted to reach out to his former All That co-star Amanda Bynes amid concerns about her mental wellbeing, but he could not get in touch with her management team. Mariah Carey's husband starred alongside Bynes in the hit U.S. sketch show for three years, and he admits it's been tough for him to watch the Hairspray star's life play out in the headlines thanks to her months of bizarre behaviour and recent drug possession arrest.
He tells American radio host Howard Stern, "That's like my little sister. To see someone you've seen at nine and you know she was running around with a snotty nose, and now to see her like that, it's like, wow, man. It's sad."
But Cannon reveals he has been unable to make contact with the 27 year old to offer his support - because she's ditched her manager and publicist.
He adds, "I tried to reach out... She doesn't have any of her people (staff members) anymore."
Cannon isn't the only former pal reaching out to Bynes - Lance Bass and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton have also shared their concerns for the embattled actress, while her former The Amanda Show co-star Drake Bell and Hairspray castmate Nikki Blonsky have both revealed they are in contact with her - and she's fine.
Bell recently told America's OK! magazine, "I talk to her every day. She's a sweetheart... She's good, and she's healthy... She's in a place right now where she is searching. She's ready to be her own person, and do her own thing... She is a girl who is finding herself... Anytime I've ever been with Amanda, she's totally coherent, totally there, totally everything."
Amanda Bynes has taken a swipe at her former friend Lance Bass on Twitter.com, branding the pop singer talentless and "ugly" after he expressed fears for her mental health in a new interview. The Hairspray star has sparked concerns for her wellbeing in recent months after posting several topless shots online and being arrested in New York last week (23May13).
She has also been stirring up trouble on Twitter in recent days, taking aim at blogger Perez Hilton over an article he posted and branding Chrissy Teigen "an old ugly model" after the beauty questioned the troubled star's mental health.
Now she has turned on Bass, who produced her 2005 movie Love Wrecked, after he spoke about her apparent issues.
In an interview on a Las Vegas radio station, he revealed, "No one is able to get to her. I'm actually really scared for her, and I hope someone is able to get to her to give her the help she needs."
Bynes heard about the former 'N Sync singer's comments and took to her page on the microblogging page to declare, "I ignored Lance Bass on Twitter and now he is saying I have a mental illness. Sorry you're an ugly ex boy band member w/ (with) no talent or career."
Bass fired off a response, stating, "Ouch - The Amanda I know would never had said something like this to me - either this is a fake person or she really does have a mental illness. Way too sad. I reached out - all I can do."
Bynes later added, "I haven't spoken to Lance Bass in 11 years. To say I have a mental illness out of nowhere makes me lash out! You're making me crazy!" prompting the singer to declare: "Now I really don't think this is Amanda - we shot LoveWrecked together 7 years ago and she was just at my bday (sic) party 3 years ago. Hmmm..."
Bynes' rant comes a week after she was taken into custody at her New York City apartment and later charged on suspicion of marijuana possession, attempted tampering with physical evidence and reckless endangerment, after allegedly throwing a bong out of the window.
Singer Lance Bass has risked incurring the wrath of his old pal Amanda Bynes after going public with his fears for the embattled star's mental health, insisting he's "really scared for her". The Easy A actress has been hitting headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past year after a number of traffic incidents in California and a drug arrest in New York last week (23May13), while she has been busy stirring up trouble on Twitter.com by lashing out at speculation she is mentally unstable and posting topless shots online.
She launched a vicious attack on her former friend Perez Hilton early on Thursday (30May13) after the celebrity blogger posted a photo online of a woman purported to be Bynes, bouncing around at an indoor trampoline centre in the Big Apple, and demanded he "stop living" and "kill yourself". The outburst came after Hilton urged the star's parents to step in and seek help for their daughter.
Now, another old friend, Bass, has voiced his concerns for Bynes during an interview on a Las Vegas radio station, revealing their mutual friends have been unable to get in contact with her.
The former 'N Sync member, who befriended Bynes in 2005 after producing her movie Love Wrecked, said, "It's one of those situations where obviously there's some mental problems there and she's not able to see that.
"No one is able to get to her. I'm actually really scared for her, and I hope someone is able to get to her to give her the help she needs."
Amanda Bynes has launched a vicious attack on celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, demanding he "stop living" and kill himself after he posted an article suggesting the troubled actress had been spotted at an indoor trampoline park. The 27 year old actress has been lashing out at gossip about her erratic behaviour and legal issues in recent months, taking to her Twitter.com page to blast reporters, bloggers and fellow celebrities for raising concerns about her mental health.
Perez Hilton, a former friend, has had the worst of the backlash after he urged the Hairspray star's parents to step in and seek out help for the embattled star.
And now Bynes has taken aim at Hilton again after he shared an eyewitness' blurry picture of a brunette, purported to be Bynes, having fun at Sky Zone trampoline centre in Buffalo, New York.
She fumed, "THAT'S NOT ME! I'm so sick of fake fans such as Perez Hilton! Send the picture to me privately first to confirm that it's me! I've never been to SkyZone! That looks nothing like me! I don't own a brown wig!"
The Hairspray star then continued her tirade by tearing apart the gay blogger for his looks and his lifestyle.
She wrote, "@perezhilton no one wants to s**k your d**k! Stop living! Kill yourself! I look sooooo much better than the girl you hired to look like an awful cheeky version of me! So I'd say F**k You but no one wants to! I just say keep living in your s**tty existence leaching (sic) off of stars who you look, sound, and act nothing like (sic)!"
Hilton has yet to speak out about Bynes' shocking comments, but took a screen grab of her hateful words and shared it with his Twitter followers on Thursday morning (30May13).
Meanwhile, bosses at the Sky Zone centre have confirmed that the actress did pay them a visit on Wednesday (29May13).
One staff member tells In Touch magazine, "She was at the Sky Zone Buffalo location yesterday at 7pm. She was there for about an hour. She was jumping on the trampoline and she was pleasant to the staff.
"I know she says she wasn't there but we can confirm she was. She was jumping on the trampoline and that’s all she did."
Actress Amanda Bynes has lashed out at her critics and former friends for making up stories about her mental health in a new magazine interview. The Hairspray star has been dogged by speculation about her stability following a spate of bizarre behaviour, including walking around New York City with items of clothing over her head, while ex-pal Perez Hilton recently went public with his concerns for the star, urging her estranged parents to do what they had to do to get their daughter committed. Bynes, who is still facing a string of legal problems relating to 2012 traffic incidents, has batted away the attacks on her mental state with fiery tweets and online messages, and now she's addressing them in the pages of In Touch magazine.
She tells the publication, "I have no clue (why people say I'm insane). Every time I've heard it, it came from an ugly person's mouth, so I don't care. The only ones lying about me having a mental illness are people I don't talk to." And commenting on her new pierced cheeks look, which has also led to critics questioning her sanity, Bynes tells In Touch, "I wanted to look like (exotic dancer) BlacChyna."
As for suggestions that the actress has issues with alcohol and marijuana, she states, "I don't drink. I'm allergic to alcohol. I don't smoke pot. I smoke tobacco." Meanwhile, Bynes tells the publication she's on a quest to slim down to a scary 100 pounds (45.3 kilograms) for a series of planned photoshoots, and she has confirmed reports suggesting she has retired from acting at 24. Asked about her plans for the future, Bynes says, "I'll design clothes and sing because I want to, not because I need the money. I love singing and I can't wait to start working on an album."
Actress Nikki Blonsky is urging media outlets to leave her Hairspray co-star Amanda Bynes alone, insisting she's in regular contact with the former child star - and she's not going mad. Blonsky has spoken out to defend her pal just days after celebrity blogger Perez Hilton urged Bynes' parents to do whatever they needed to do to have their daughter committed following a series of bizarre antics, which have put his former friend in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Blonsky insists the actress is not heading for a breakdown, as has been suggested, stating, "She's the same Amanda I met working on Hairspray. She's happy. I don't think that's a breakdown, but a breakthrough. I back Amanda 100 per cent."
She tells Life & Style magazine, "I don't think there is any (cause for) concern on anybody's part. She is just living her life and doing what she wants to do and I totally support that for her.
"I think it was more like an episode of events that maybe people are finding her different for, because she has been so cookie-cutter and so perfect over the years."
Among the 'events' that have surprised many over the past 18 months are a string of traffic offences in Los Angeles, including an alleged collision with a police car, and a series of odd tweets and posted photographs and videos. Bynes has also pierced her cheeks and often takes to the streets of New York City with an item of clothing over her head.
Actress Amanda Bynes' former pal, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, has urged her parents to do what they need to do to have their daughter committed. The fallen child star has threatened to sue Hilton for remarks he has made online about her mental state, following a series of bizarre incidents in Los Angeles and New York, but he isn't backing down, and now he is publicly urging her estranged parents to take "drastic measures" to help his old friend.
The new dad tells In Touch magazine, "Her family needs to do whatever they need to do to have her committed.
"Amanda's a totally different person. When I was friends with her, she was really normal. Like boringly normal. I think she may keep acting out in even crazier ways if people start ignoring her.
"I've tried to help her repeatedly. It's just so sad to see what's going on."
Following a series of traffic offences in Los Angeles last year (12), which included allegedly hitting a police car, the actress relocated to New York, where she often takes to the street with shirts and jackets over her head. She has also pierced both her cheeks and recently hit the headlines after posting sexually-charged tweets about her feelings for rapper Drake.
Former child star Amanda Bynes has waged a war of words with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton after he posted unflattering photos of her online. Bynes took to her Twitter.com page on Thursday (11Apr13) to take aim at Hilton, who has regularly reported about the embattled actress' erratic behaviour and legal woes in recent weeks.
The Hairspray star accused Hilton of using unattractive snaps of her on his website, and tried to exact revenge by sharing a picture of him looking less than his best to show his readers "how much hotter I am than you".
She raged, "I'm so sick of you saying you're sincerely worried about me. At least pick a photo from my Twitter if you won't stop talking about me. Leave me alone! You are the scum of the earth!! Pick better photos f**ker! Perez Hilton is ugly, has never had a hot boyfriend. He makes being gay look bad! No one wants to be a single parent bc (because) no man wants them..."
Hilton appeared to take her rant in his stride and uploaded an old snapshot of himself and Bynes posing together, writing, "Look at how fat I was in this pic! Wowsa (sic)!"
He also tweeted, "How can you ignore someone who won't stop saying 'Look at me!'? You can't. Especially when they're saying 'Look at me!' very loudly!"