Book to Screen: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 Is Better than the Book

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If you’ve read the third book of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, you’re well aware that Mockingjay has problems and is undoubtedly the most difficult book of the series to bring to screen.  Whereas The Hunger Games and Catching Fire had the benefit of following the clear-cut chain of events involved in the Hunger Games, Mockingjay is more of a free-for-all.  Katniss is holed up in District 13, the Hunger Games are a thing of the past and now it’s just about the rebels trying to figure out how to get an edge on President Snow and the Capitol.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that narrative, but for folks who’ve enjoyed the spectacle and structure of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay could be a serious adjustment.

The same is true of the first half of Francis Lawrence’s big screen rendition, but it’s an adjustment worth making.  Minus the familiar faces and settings, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 bears little resemblance to its predecessors, but Lawrence and co. made a number of changes that make the film version far more accessible than the book.  [Please Note: This article contains spoilers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, but there is no discussion of what’s to come in Part 2.]

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New PITCH PERFECT 2 Images Feature Familiar Faces and New Additions

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Earlier this morning, Universal released the first trailer for the upcoming musical comedy Pitch Perfect 2 and it was kind of fantastic.  The follow-up looks to be every bit as fun and surprising as the first film, and it has Elizabeth Banks in the director’s chair to boot.  Continuing on with today’s festivities, Universal has released a batch of new Pitch Perfect 2 images from the film, which reveal what Adam Devine’s Bumper has been up to since the first movie (hanging with Joe Lo Truglio, of course) and also give us a look at the Barden Bellas’ new addition Hailee Steinfeld.  I’d go so far as to say that the first movie was the most entertaining movie I saw in theaters in 2012, so I’m fairly excited for this one.

Check out the new Pitch Perfect 2 images after the jump.  The film also stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, John Michael Higgins, and Katey SegalPitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters on May 15, 2015.

PITCH PERFECT 2 Trailer: The Barden Bellas Take on the World Championships of A Cappella

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Universal Pictures just released the very first Pitch Perfect 2 trailer and it looks as though the musical comedy sequel could be another big winner.  Not only did the first film turn out to be a surprise hit and claim over $113 million at the worldwide box office, but it also helped Anna Kendrick‘s rendition of “Cups” hit #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and wound up amassing such an enthusiastic following that Universal decided to bring the original film back to theaters in sing-along format.  As someone who’s watched Pitch Perfect time and time again, there’s a lot riding on the sequel and based on this first look at the film, actress/producer-turned-first time feature director Elizabeth Banks may have nailed it.

Forget the national college a cappella competition.  In Pitch Perfect 2 it’s all about the world championship of a cappella.  We’ve got familiar songs and faces, “Cups” is still quite catchy and the Bellas are as charming and amusing as ever, but it looks as though Banks and co. are going bigger in every respect and based on how this trailer plays, it could work exceptionally well.  Hit the jump to check out the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer for yourself.  The film also stars Rebel Wilson, Brittany SnowSkylar AstinHailee SteinfeldAnna CampKatey SegalAdam Devine and of course Banks as well.  Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters on May 15, 2015.

EW Cover Offers a First Look at PITCH PERFECT 2 with Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow; First Poster Released

by     Posted 6 days ago

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Get your aca-puns ready, folks, because it’s time to start getting really excited for Pitch Perfect 2.  A first look at the sequel has been unveiled as part of this week’s EW cover, which features returning stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany SnowPitch Perfect actress/executive producer Elizabeth Banks steps into the director’s chair this time around, taking over from the first film’s Jason Moore and making her feature directorial debut in the process.  Plot details for the follow-up are still unknown at this time, but as a big fan of the first movie I’m really looking forward to this sequel.  Kay Cannon (30 Rock) returned to pen the script so hopefully it’s able to maintain sharp tone of the first feature while expanding the scope, as sequels are wont to do.

Check out the first look at Pitch Perfect 2 after the jump, including the cover image and other photos.  The film also stars Skylar Astin, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna CampKatey Segal, Adam Devine, and of course Banks.  Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters on May 15, 2015. [Update: We've added the first poster for the film.  Additionally, Universal Pictures has announced that the trailer will be released tomorrow.]

New THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 TV Spot Loads up on Visual Effects as the Battle Begins

by     Posted 15 days ago

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Lionsgate has released a new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 TV spot, and it highlights how the budget for these movies has really ticked upwards.  The first film cost a reported $80 million, and while I don’t know the budget for Mockingjay, it definitely cost more, and we’re going to see that investment on the big screen in the best way possible.  The franchise is really moving towards the mantle of epic sci-fi, and while I still have reservations because I think the novel is fairly weak, everything I’ve seen from the movie thus far is very impressive.

Hit the jump to check out The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 TV spot.  The film opens on November 21st, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonElizabeth BanksJeffrey WrightStanley TucciSam Claflin, and Jena Malone.

New THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 TV Spot Features Teary-Eyed Josh Hutcherson

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Whether you’re into the non-stop Hunger Games marketing campaigns or not, there’s no denying that Lionsgate knows how to deliver quality promotional material.  At this point, we’ve already seen a teaser trailer, a full-length trailer and a TV spot for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 yet this latest TV spot still rocks some brand new footage and a relatively unique tone.  The film’s promotional push isn’t just laying it all out there to get as many moviegoers into theaters as possible.  Lionsgate is actually taking more of a storytelling-centric approach, having each new piece add a layer to the situation, encouraging viewers to become invested well before the movie even comes out.

Hit the jump to check out the latest The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 TV spot featuring Willow Shields’ Primrose Everdeen, a little encouragement from Elizabeth Banks as Effie and a super sad Josh HutchersonMockingjay – Part 1 is due in theaters on November 21st.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 TV Spot Contains New Footage of Katniss Refusing to Give up the Fight

by     Posted 35 days ago

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Lionsgate has released a new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 TV spot, which contains fresh footage from the upcoming blockbuster.  The film finds Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the forefront of the rebellion in Panem while Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone) are held captive in the Capitol.  We’ve had some huge hits this year, but I’m still putting my money on The Girl on Fire for winning the 2014 box office race, especially since this looks like the biggest Hunger Games movie yet.

Hit the jump to check out the new TV spot.  The film also stars Liam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonJulianne MoorePhilip Seymour HoffmanElizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, and Donald SutherlandThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opens on November 21st.

The Rebellion Continues with 19 New Images from THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Last night, we got a new teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and now we have more images from the upcoming film.  The film finds Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the forefront of the rebellion in District 13 while Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone) are held captive in the Capitol.  These new images give us a look not only at our main heroes, but also new supporting characters Cressida (Natalie Dormer), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Pollux (Elden Henson), Messalla (Evan Ross), and Castor (Wes Chatham).

Hit the jump to check out the new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 images.  The film also stars Liam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonJulianne MoorePhilip Seymour HoffmanElizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, and Donald SutherlandThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opens on November 21st.

MAGIC MIKE XXL Adds Elizabeth Banks, Donald Glover, Amber Heard, and More to Cast; Gets a Synopsis

by     Posted 57 days ago

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I’m getting excited for Magic Mike XXL (despite the fact that Matthew McConaughey won’t be returning).  And I’m excited even though original director Steven Soderbergh (who was able to guide his first film from a $7 million budget to a $167 million worldwide gross), won’t be back either (actually he will, since he’s shooting it under his alias Peter Andrews, which effectively provides new director Gregory Jacobs with the best sounding board ever).  This movie will still, in all likelihood, rule. Channing Tatum is of course back and now he’s got company.

Elizabeth Banks and Donald Glover have joined the film along with Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell and Jada Pinkett-Smith.  And it has a synopsis now too!  Hit the jump to learn the (bodacious) plot basics for Magic Mike XXL.

LOVE & MERCY Review | TIFF 2014

by     Posted 76 days ago

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The Beach Boys are one of my favorite bands of all time, and their seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds is also one of my favorite albums of all time, so I came into director Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy with high expectations and a certain degree of skepticism.  As it turns out, the film is actually really good.  Pohlad takes a non-traditional approach to the biopic genre by splitting the story between young Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) and older Brian Wilson (John Cusack), focusing on the creation of Pet Sounds and the troubled SMiLE in the Dano timeline and Wilson’s severe mental illness and abusive relationship with his caretaker in the Cusack one.  Both actors rise to the challenge, with Cusack turning in his best performance in years, and Pohlad ends up crafting not only one of the more interesting biopics to come along in a while, but also a moving and honest chronicle of mental illness and success.

New THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 Posters Focus on the Revolutionaries of District 13

by     Posted 109 days ago

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Lionsgate has released new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 posters focusing on key members of the resistance in their home base, District 13: President Coin (Julianne Moore), Finnick (Sam Claflin), Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson).  I like these character posters because while these are the members of the resistance, they’re also behind cold, grey walls.  It’s a signal that while the resistance has a headquarters, they don’t have a sanctuary.

Hit the jump to check out the hi-res The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 posters.  The film opens November 21st, and also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 Teaser Trailer Hints at the Battle to Come

by     Posted 121 days ago

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Lionsgate has released the first teaser trailer for the first half of the conclusion to the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, directed by Francis Lawrence.  Since the teaser trailer is only a minute, Lionsgate has wisely chosen to let the visuals and minimal dialogue set the stage at the battle to come.  I especially enjoyed seeing Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) discussing Katniss’ purpose in the rebellion.  Plutarch insists, “Listen to me.  No one else can do this, but her.”  Coin disagrees.  “She won’t be able to handle it.  The games destroyed her.”  Shortly after their scene we get a glimpse of Natalie Dormer as Cressida with her half shaved head as well as Liam Hemsworth looking serious as Gale.   Hit the jump to check it out.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright,, and Donald Sutherland, and opens in theaters November 21st.  Watch the first The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 trailer after the break.

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 129 days ago

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Elizabeth Banks is one of the best comediennes working today, and she always brings something interesting to a part, be it big or small.  She should be a bigger star and films like Walk of Shame aren’t going to help prove it as the film ended up debuting in theaters and on VOD at the same time for a reason.  A high concept movie that leaves its star to wallow in embarrassment, there’s probably a sharp film to be made of the story of a woman who, after a night of casual sex, ends up having to make her way through the city to finally get her car and life back — but this isn’t it.  James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star and my Walk of Shame Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER TV Show May Come to Netflix; Original Cast Expected to Return

by     Posted 186 days ago

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Director David Wain’s 2001 film Wet Hot American Summer remains one of the funniest and weirdest comedies in recent memory, and though the film was a box office bomb, it later gained cult status on home video thanks to a number of its cast members eventually becoming huge stars—including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks.  The film revolved around the last day of camp at Camp Firewood, but Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter hit upon an absurdist tone for the comedy that resulted in a twisted, hilarious little movie.

Talk of a prequel to Wet Hot American Summer has been going on for years, and while most of the cast is game to return (playing even younger versions of their 10-years-ago selves), movement on the project has yet to materialize.  Well now it appears that an alternate route for the Wet Hot American Summer follow-up is being considered, as Netflix is in talks to turn it into a TV series.  Hit the jump for more on the Wet Hot American Summer TV show.

The Barden Bellas Reunite in New Image from PITCH PERFECT 2 Rehearsals

by     Posted 194 days ago

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Pitch Perfect surprised a lot of people when it was released, not only because it made a lot of money ($113 million worldwide against a budget of just $17 million), but also because it was actually really funny.  As such, it’s no surprise that Universal is now moving forward with a sequel, and rehearsals for Pitch Perfect 2 are currently underway in Baton Rogue as filming is expected to begin soon.  Producer and actress Elizabeth Banks takes over directorial duties this time around, and co-star Rebel Wilson has now shared an image of Banks with the reunited Barden Bellas (plus new addition Hailee Steinfeld) getting down to business on the rehearsal stage.  It’s admittedly not much, but those looking forward to the follow-up should find the tease amusing.

Hit the jump to check out the Pitch Perfect 2 image.  The film also stars Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Adam Devine, and Katey SagalPitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters on May 15, 2015.

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