- Created on 22 November 2013
Weapon of Choice: Bow and arrow Shining Moment: Um, all of them -- Katniss is amazing. But really, when her wedding dress catches fire and transforms into a Mockingjay, she is literally the symbol of the game-changing rebellion.
(CNN) -- If you've read Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy, then the odds are ever in your favor when it comes to cocktail party conversations about Katniss, the Mockingjay and the Quarter Quell.
If you haven't, then that was all gibberish ... but it doesn't have to be.
As "Catching Fire," the second movie in the series, comes to theaters November 22 we've got all the information you need to dazzle friends with your talk of Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman in our "HG 101" -- as well as some insider facts about the movie that'll make even the most hardcore fans feel a little more informed before heading into the arena.
Happy "Hunger Games"!
HG 101: Every year in post-apocalyptic Panem, two tributes, aka children, from each district are selected in a public reaping to compete in the win-or-die Hunger Games. But every 25 years, there's a Quarter Quell, where a dark twist makes the games even more treacherous. As punishment to heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) -- who not only outwitted the Hunger Games, but also ensured her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) survived too (unprecedented!) -- the Quarter Quell finds them back in the arena, competing against other past winners.
As if that weren't enough, there's also a love triangle, family drama, a score to settle, several districts to save and an uprising that can't be quieted. With evil monkeys and even more evil victors from previous games to battle, it's a lot for one movie to tackle, but the tributes in "Catching Fire" are more fully-formed characters, and they help set the story apart and keep the conflict interesting.
Expert tip: These games are getting darker and sexier. Yes, the very premise of kids fighting to the death for the public's amusement ensures that there's a dark thread throughout the entire story, but the look and feel of "Fire" is darker as well, with new director Francis Lawrence amping up the action and suspense. And while costume designer Trish Summerville didn't allow tributes to be nearly nude as in the books, she did pull some form-fitting designer duds for them to wear. The fandom is growing up, and the movies are following suit.
The big question: With several big names joining the cast, are there any new standouts? Sam Claflin shines as cocky tribute Finnick Odair, and Jenna Malone makes an equally splashy (and equally clothing-free) entrance as Johanna, who's good with an axe, but takes a bit to warm up to. Both have great moments with Katniss.
The love triangle
HG 101: So there's this girl Katniss and she's a total badass, and she's basically best buds with the male version of her, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but she gets sent off to the Hunger Games with Peeta, saves his life a million times and now all the viewers want them to be an item. So they sort of are. Besides fighting for basic survival, the Quarter Quell gives them more time together to explore their relationship, for real and for the cameras. The love triangle is what grounds the entire series in reality, and it ain't over until it's over, so don't expect anything to be decided halfway through the series' four-movie run.
Expert take: Peeta might not be such a bad option for Katniss after all! Fans of the books were outraged that -- spoiler alert! -- Katniss ended up with Peeta after so clearly having a stronger connection with Gale. Peeta always seemed like too much of a damsel in distress for our Katniss, but in "Catching Fire," Peeta is stronger and more independent -- and he can swim, so thankfully you won't have to see a near-drowning when they enter the water-filled arena. We wish he'd get a skill a little more exciting than painting his body with mud to be camouflaged, but we'll take any improvement on the character we can get.
The big question: What about Gale? While Gale is once again on the sidelines for most of the movie, he does have a particularly haunting scene in "Catching Fire" that stays somewhat true to the book. The big difference? This time the changes leave the door open for Gale to really make his presence (and his intentions with Katniss) known in the two-part "Mockingjay" final installments. They've got Hemsworth -- they're going to use him!
HG 101: While the tributes from the districts must compete to take their next breath, residents of the Capitol are the 1%. Their excess knows no bounds, but they're still human. While they felt like caricatures in the first movie, "Catching Fire" reveals some chinks in the otherwise bedazzled armor, all thanks to Katniss and her act of rebellion that's now sparked a revolution.
Expert tip: Yes, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) is still the most stylish tribute sympathizer, but Effie Trinket is more lovable than ever. In "The Hunger Games," Effie (Elizabeth Banks) epitomized everything the Capitol stood for: fashion, material things, excess and an obliviousness to the real issues in the districts around them. But as the stakes of the games are raised, so are Effie's concerns, and seeing cracks in her very colorful façade helps make her more than a one-note character. We saw glimpses of her conscience in the books but, onscreen, Banks takes her from unemotional escort to compassionate cog in the wheel.
The big question: Who's the new big bad? After the execution of "Hunger Games" gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), who ignored orders and let both Katniss and Peeta win, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) steps in -- and he's not going to make the same weak mistakes as his predecessor. With direct orders from President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to make sure Katniss doesn't survive the 75th Games, he becomes the scariest new villain in the Capitol and the biggest potential threat. The role feels tailor-made for Hoffman.
With the Panem rebellion in full swing, and Katniss as their poster child, there's more to prove in this 75th Hunger Games than ever before. Alliances will be tested and monkey mutts and Jabberjays will terrorize the returning victors, all while the clock is ticking to save their families, their districts and themselves.
- Created on 21 November 2013
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Steve James and Oscar winner Martin Scorsese have hit the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise money for their documentary on Roger Ebert, "Life Itself." Directed by James, the film needs an additional $150,000 in funding before completion, money that will go toward post-production tasks like music licensing,...
- Created on 19 November 2013
Year: August 31, 1994
Rating: 4 Stars
Quote: “This is not an action film, not a clever, superficial thriller, but a story of depth and power, in which the dangerous streets are seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old who reacts with the objectivity he has learned from chess, and the anger taught to him by his life.”
Boyz In The Hood
Year: July 12, 1991
Rating: 4 Stars
Quote: “The movie is a thoughtful, realistic look at a young man’s coming of age, and also a human drama of rare power – Academy Award material.”
Menace II Society
Year: May 26, 1993
Rating: 4 stars
Quote: “Anyone who views this film thoughtfully must ask why our society makes guns easier to obtain and use than does any other country in the civilized world.”
Year: September 13, 1995
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
“Although “Clockers” is, as I suggested, a murder mystery, in solving its murder, it doesn’t even begin to find a solution to the system that led to the murder. That is the point.”
Year: July 23, 1993
Rating: 3 stars
Quote: “Janet Jackson provides a lovable center for it, and by the time it’s over we can see more clearly how “Boyz” presented only part of the South Central reality.”
Year: January 4, 2012
Rating: 3 1/2
Quote: “Alike lives in a world where homosexuality is far from unknown, and her problems will grow smaller in a few years as she moves away from home. This story, so tellingly written and acted, is about the painful awkwardness of that process.”
City Of God
Rating: 4 Stars
Quote: “City of God” does not exploit or condescend, does not pump up its stories for contrived effect, does not contain silly and reassuring romantic sidebars, but simply looks, with a passionately knowing eye, at what it knows.”
Do The Right Thing
Year: June 30, 1989
Raring: 4 Stars
Quote: “I believe that any good-hearted person, white or black, will come out of this movie with sympathy for all of the characters. Lee does not ask us to forgive them, or even to understand everything they do, but he wants us to identify with their fears and frustrations.
Year: June 27, 2001
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Quote: “Baby Boy” doesn’t fall back on easy liberal finger-pointing. There are no white people in this movie, no simplistic blaming of others; the adults in Jody?s life blame him for his own troubles, and they should.
Beasts Of The Southern WildYear: July 4, 2012
Rating: 4 Stars
Quote: This film is a remarkable creation, imagining a self-reliant community without the safety nets of the industrialized world.
New Jack City
Year: May 1, 1991
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Quote: The movie isn’t a comic book that’s been assembled out of the spare parts from other crime movies; it’s an original, in-depth look at this world, written and directed with concern—apparently after a lot of research and inside information.
New Jersey Drive
Rating: 3 stars
Quote: (Gomez) wants to look at how an empty lifestyle leads to trouble. If the only choices you can imagine in life are stealing cars or standing around looking at other people driving stolen cars, how long are you gonna stand around?
Year: March 14, 1997
Rating: 3 Stars
Quote: As the characters move from coffee bars to record stores to restaurants to the Sanctuary, we realize how painfully limited the media vision of urban black life is. Why do the movies give us so many homeboys and gangstas and druggies and so few photographers, poets and teachers?
Love And Basketball
Year: April 21, 2000
Rating: 3 Stars
Quote: it is a sports film seen mostly from the woman’s point of view. It’s honest and perceptive about love and sex, with no phony drama and a certain quiet maturity.
- Created on 18 November 2013
This photo released by Universal Pictures shows, from left, Monica Calhoun as Mia, Melissa De Sousa as Shelby and Nia Long as Jordan, enjoying the show in a scene from "The Best Man Holiday." The movie releases in theaters on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo / Universal Pictures, Michael Gibson)
NEW YORK (AP) -- In an unlikely battle of sequels, "Thor: The Dark World" bested "The Best Man Holiday" at the box office.
Disney's "Thor: The Dark World" continued its box-office reign with $38.5 million in its second week of release, according to studio estimates Sunday. Opening 15 years after the original "The Best Man," Universal's "The Best Man Holiday" opened strongly with $30.6 million.
Drawing an overwhelmingly female and African-American audience, "The Best Man Holiday" was a surprise challenger for the mighty "Thor." The R-rated romantic comedy, with an ensemble cast including Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs, debuted with more than three times the box office of 1999's "The Best Man." That film opened with $9 million.
The performance of Malcolm D. Lee's "The Best Man Holiday" continued an ongoing trend. Movies that appeal particularly to black audiences have often been surpassing expectations at the box office.
"It's a familiar refrain, and it's getting a little tired," said Lee. "I thought we had a chance to do something special."
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" led the box office for several weeks in August, leading to a cumulative total of $115.5 million domestically. The Oscar-contender "12 Years a Slave" has made $25 million in five weeks of limited release.
Lee said that while black audiences "see everything" at the movies, from action movies to romantic comedies, he hopes broader audiences begin responding to so-called "black films." The audience for "Best Man Holiday" was 87 percent African-American.
Regardless, a third "Best Man" film now seems a likely bet.
"If there is going to be a sequel, it won't take 14 years," granted Lee.
Marvel's Norse superhero, however, has been hammering audiences around the globe. "Thor: The Dark World" made $52.5 million internationally over the weekend, bringing its worldwide total to $479.8 million. With Chris Hemsworth as the title character and Tom Hiddleston as the popular villain Loki, the Thor franchise has proven to be one of Marvel's most successful.
Just as "Thor" approached the half-billion mark, Warner Bros.' space adventure "Gravity" crossed it. In seven weeks of release, "Gravity" has made $514.9 million globally.
"The Best Man Holiday" was the only new wide-release opening over the weekend, as the marketplace clears out for the release of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." In limited release, Alexander Payne's black-and-white Midwest road trip "Nebraska" opened in four locations with a solid $35,000 per theater average for Paramount Pictures.
Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" was originally slated to open, but was postponed to Dec. 25 by Paramount.
Expected to be one of the year's biggest debuts, Lionsgate's "Catching Fire" will abruptly close the box-office window for "Thor" next weekend. "Catching Fire" opened in Brazil over the weekend, earning $6.3 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Thor: The Dark World," $38.5 million ($52.5 million international).
2. "The Best Man Holiday," $30.6 million.
3. "Last Vegas," $8.9 million ($3.5 million international).
4. "Free Birds," $8.3 million ($1.2 million international).
5. "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," $7.7 million ($5.5 million international).
6. "Gravity," $6.3 million ($18.5 million).
7. "Ender's Game," $6.2 million ($2.2 million international).
8. "12 Years a Slave," $4.7 million.
9. "Captain Phillips," $4.5 million ($8.4 million international).
10. "About Time," $3.5 million ($1.9 million international).