Movie Review – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” a Blazing Roller Coaster

The wait for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is finally over as it officially hits theaters today! Fans will be absolutely thrilled with the end result and will feel that the long 20 months between Hunger Games and this installment was time well spent. Director Francis Lawrence did an amazing job, picking up on things Gary Ross left out. I have no doubt the rest of the franchise is in excellent hands.

* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *

We start off back in District 12 a few months after Katniss and Peeta win the 74th Annual Hunger Games in an act of rebellion. In these opening scenes we start to see how having to participate in this competition has effected Katniss as she is dealing with post traumatic stress. Katniss and Peeta are now living in what is called the Victor’s Village, a housing area set up by the Capitol for the Victors.

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Katniss comes home from a trip out to the woods with Gale to discover that President Snow and some of his guards are wanting to speak with her. She is then left alone to speak with the cunning President and he warns that people of the Districts have started to rebel against the Capitol because of her actions. He also warns that if she does not convince him of her love for Peeta then those she loves will be in danger.

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Katniss and Peeta then leave for the Victory Tour in which they go to each District to publicly speak about the games and the fallen tributes. Throughout their journey on the Victory Tour we start to subtly see the rebellion “catching fire” in the Districts.

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The tour ends in the Capitol where Katniss and Peeta attend the Presidential Ball with guide, Effie Trinket. Here we are introduced to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

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We then return to District 12 and because of the events of the Victory Tour, the rebellion across Panem is getting worse. This causes President Snow to take drastic measures and he sends heavier armies of “Peacemakers” to all of the Districts for enforcement. In District 12, the ruthless Commander Thread is put in charge and he does not tolerate rebellion. This leads to a gut-wrenching scene between him, Gale, and Katniss.

The next day, President Snow makes a huge announcement about the 75th Hunger Games. He explains that because the 75th Annual Hunger Games is also the 3rd Quarter Quell there has to be something unique about it. Snow then goes on to announce that the tributes for these games will be reaped from the previous victors. This means that Katniss and Peeta end up back in the Hunger Games.

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Back in the Capitol, we are introduced to the unlucky victors who are once again tributes in the games. We also get to see the new training facility, the new tribute living quarters, and Caesar Flickerman’s new stage.

The night before everyone is headed back into the arena, Caesar interviews each tribute, asking them various questions. However, when it is time for Peeta’s interview, he drops “a bomb” that even has the Capitol citizens ready to rebel. This is when we see a display of the tributes coming together as one and holding hands in front of the crowd. Needless to say, this makes President Snow quite unhappy.

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The next morning, the tributes are getting ready to head into the arena. There is an emotional scene as Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and Haymitch are saying their good-byes. Cinna talks with Katniss as she is preparing to go into the arena and before she heads into the elevator, they too say an emotional good-bye. Then we are in the arena and the games begin…

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I do not want to give too much more away, so get thee to a theater if you want to know what happens next!

Francis Lawrence did an absolutely amazing job as director and fans will definitely be happy with the work and attention to detail that he put into this film. It is a stronger and more faithful adaptation to the novel than The Hunger Games. In the first film, Prim’s cat Buttercup was a tuxedo cat, but he was named Buttercup for his fluffy orange fur. In Catching Fire, Buttercup is a fluffy orange tabby. It is the attention to detail like that that will make fans of the book happy.

The performances from all of the actors involved were excellent and stronger from the previous film. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, is an amazing actress and her performance carried the story. Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci are also two very strong actors who are always amazing at what they do. However, I felt that their performances in this film were much stronger than in the first one. Sutherland is even more cunning and sinister as President Snow and Tucci is even more over the top and flamboyant as Caesar Flickerman.

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Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth also brought more to the table as the two love interests. Due to their stronger performances and a stronger romantic storyline, the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale was much more believable.

Overall, the movie was fast paced and a complete emotional roller coaster. Francis Lawrence did a great job of including funny moments that would make you laugh, emotional moments that would make you teary-eyed, shocking moments that would make you gasp, romantic moments that would make you swoon, and thrilling moments that would leave you on the edge of your seat.

The production design was stunning in every aspect. From the costumes, hair, and makeup details all the way to the props and set pieces. Just gorgeous!

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There were only two major things that I felt could have been handled differently. First off, the arena section of the movie, although very intense, felt a little short and rushed. Secondly, “the bomb” that Peeta drops while being interviewed by Caesar is never really mentioned or dealt with again. It just seemed strange to me that such a major piece of the storyline got dropped off so easily.

Let me tell you, though, you will not be disappointed in the end result! Just like the ending of the book, the ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie will leave you wanting more. Once you have seen the movie, share your thoughts in the comments!

Broadway Casting News – Tony Winner Sutton Foster Returning to Broadway in “Violet”

Fans of the two-time Tony winning actress, Sutton Foster, will no doubt be excited to hear that she will be returning to the Broadway stage this spring as the title character in Violet. Currently, the show is set to be performed at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre, but this may change before the spring.

Here is an official synopsis of the show (via Broadway.com): Violet is set in the deep South of 1964 and concerns the relationship between a physically scarred young white woman and a young black soldier.

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Foster has won two Tony’s for her work in Anything Goes and Throughly Modern Millie. She has also starred in productions of Shrek the MusicalYoung FrankensteinThe Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women, Les Miserables, Annie, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Grease. This actually is also not Foster’s first time performing in Violet. The Broadway starlet was a part of a one-night-only performance, directed by Leigh Silverman, at New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center back in July.

What do you think of this casting news? Are you a fan of Sutton Foster and her work in theater? Would you be interested in seeing her perform in Violet again?

Joshua Henry & Sutton Foster in "Violet"
Joshua Henry & Sutton Foster in “Violet”

Source: Broadway.com

Red Carpet Photos from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Los Angeles Premiere

The Los Angeles premiere for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was held on Monday, November 18th at the Nokia Theater. All of the main stars were in attendance along with director Francis Lawrence, author and executive producer Suzanne Collins, producer Jon Kilik, costume designer Trish Summerville, and screenwriters Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt.

The official Hunger Games Facebook page recently posted some gorgeous and unique red carpet photos that were taken by photographer Eric Charbonneau. Take a look at the photos and be sure to check back here on Friday for a TrulyLuminary exclusive review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire!

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What do you think of the red carpet fashion choices? Are you going to be seeing Catching Fire when it hits theaters this weekend? What are you most excited to see in the film?

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Source: The Hunger Games Facebook

Broadway Exclusive – “Matilda” Movie Musical Adaptation in Early Development

Fans of the new hit Broadway show, Matilda, may be interested to hear that a movie musical could be heading to the silver screen. Tony winner Dennis Kelly, who wrote the musical’s book, will be writing the screenplay for the proposed movie musical.

However, a contract agreement prohibits any film version being made until at least six years after the Broadway opening. This means that fans may have to wait until at least 2019 for even a glimpse at the movie. Even though that might be disappointing news, director Matthew Warchus shared that composer Tim Minchin might contribute some new music for the film.

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In a recent interview the the U.K.’s Daily Mail Warchus had this to say: “It’ll be different from what we did on stage. Matilda‘s imagination lends itself very much to film. We can open up her amazing acrobat stories. And there will be the conundrum of trying to capture the naughtiness and anarchy of the stage version.”

Matilda is still running at the Shubert Theatre and young actresses Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro all take turns performing the lead role.

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Sources: Broadway.com and Daily Mail

Movie Exclusive – Character Portraits and Bios Released for “Divergent”

Summit Entertainment recently released some beautiful new character portraits and short character bios for the Divergent adaptation. These portraits and bios will help those new to the franchise learn more about some of the major characters. Plus, it might also remind fans of the novel of character details that they may have forgotten.

The portraits feature some of the main characters, such as Tris (Shailene Woodley), and some of the important secondary characters, such as Eric (Jai Courtney). The bios all share important details about the character and some of their personality traits. Take a look at Tris’s portrait and bio below:

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Divergent is directed by Neil Burger and also stars Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Mekhi Phifer, Ray Stevenson, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold, and Ben Lloyd-Hughes. Be sure to take a look at all of the character portraits and bios in the gallery below!

Are you excited for the Divergent movie? What do you think of the cast behind this project? What do you think of these new portraits?

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Source: Official Divergent Movie Website

Movie Exclusive – First Teaser Trailer for Disney’s “Maleficent”

Disney fans will be happy to here that the studio has finally released an official trailer for their upcoming live-action fantasy, Maleficent. Production on the highly anticipated film started in June 2012 and the studio has been very secretive about sharing anything.

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Maleficent retells the classic story of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s (Angelina Jolie) perspective and we get to see the motivation behind her villainous actions. This new trailer gives us our first glimpse at the unique fantasy world director Robert Stromberg has created.

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The trailer opens up with Elle Fanning speaking to Maleficent and explaining that she is not afraid. We also see Vivienne Jolie-Pitt running through a field as a toddler-age Princess Aurora. Plus, audiences get a closer look at Jolie as Maleficent and some iconic moments from the original Sleeping Beauty. Watch the stunning teaser trailer below:

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Maleficent also stars Brenton ThwaitesSharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Miranda Richardson, Peter Capaldi, Sam Riley, and Hannah New. What do you think of this new trailer? Will you be seeing Maleficent when it hits theaters on May 30, 2014?

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Sources: Yahoo! Movies, YouTube, and IMDbPro

Broadway Exclusive – First Look at Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway

Several of the classic Disney films have already been created into successful and stunning Broadway musicals by Disney Theatrical. The latest Disney story to get the Broadway treatment is the well-known story of Aladdin.

Aladdin is currently previewing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto until January 5, 2014. From there, the production will head to Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre starting on February 26, 2014.

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The show stars Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Courtney Reed as Jasmine, James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie, and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. Interesting fact for the day, Freeman actually voiced Jafar in the original 1992 animated film!

The creative team behind this show includes Tony-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, with sets done by Bob Crowley, costumes by Gregg Barnes, and lighting by Natasha Katz. Plus, bookwriter Chad Beguelin and Alan Menken have composed new songs for the score, which includes “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.”

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What do you think of the cast and the creative team behind this show? Do you think it will have a strong and successful run on Broadway? Would you be interested in seeing this show? What do you think of these exclusive photos? 

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Source: Entertainment Weekly