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12 Things We Loved About ‘The Hunger Games – Catching Fire’

‘The Hunger Games – Catching Fire’ hit theaters Friday and shattered November records making $161.1 million it’s debut weekend. As avid fans of the series, the writers of Rock Paper Watch are counting down the 12 things they loved about the second installment on the big screen.  This goes without saying but, SPOILERS ahead!  Let us know what you think.  Did this movie make up for the lackluster first? What did you think of JLaw? Team Peeta or Team Gale? Did the sight of Finnick make you swoon?

1.  Holy sh*t, she actually loves him

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The first movie missed the mark in showing the complexity of the Katniss/Peeta relationship. Catching Fire was spot-on. It made it clear that Katniss, even though she has feelings for Gale, also has feelings for Peeta. I would have appreciated more flirtation during training but the film made up for it in the arena. When Peeta “dies” after walking into a forcefield and is revived by Finnick, Jennifer Lawrence’s reaction was so intense it took your breath away.  And in case that wasn’t enough, the look on Finnick’s face after read, “holy sh*t, she actually does love him,” followed by Snow’s granddaughter saying, “I want to love someone that much.” And then there was that kiss on the beach, hot damn!

2.  The way Finnick drinks water

finnick hot You drink that water Finnick.

Guys, how perfect was Finnick? He was charming, seductive, and sly in the Capitol. In the arena he was a bit more sincere. My heart broke during the Mags and Annie scenes.  Still, everything he did had a hint of sexuality to it.  Well done, Sam Claflin, well done.

3.  Peeta mans up

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In the first movie and the books, Peeta is kind of wimpy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m Team Peeta all the way but he kind of rides Katniss’ coattails. In the first movie, there was that awful, goofy camouflage scene. This time Peeta carries his own weight (literally, since Finnick never carries him away from the fog but rather they all lean on each other like a team).  He surprisingly kills a tribute during the chaos at the cornucopia and fights off monkeys and saves Katniss with a machete. And how adorable was that smirk after he drops the baby bomb. Get it done Peeta!

4.  Oh, the costumes

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I couldn’t have been more disappointed with the costumes from the first movie but boy, does Catching Fire make up for it.  Katniss’ wedding dress-turned-mockingjay was absolutely perfect, Finnick’s District 4 get-up was mouth-watering (ladies, did you see his neck?!) and Effie’s costumes were wildly fantastic.  It doesn’t hurt that the budget for the film expanded by more than $50 million.  Still, hats off to Cinna for working his magic with the Girl on Fire.  We couldn’t get enough of Jennifer Lawrence’s many, many wardrobe changes.

5.  Effie’s apology

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Throughout the film you see Haymitch, Peeta, Katniss, and Effie acting more like a team rather than a group thrown together by odds. When Effie decides they each need gold mockingjay tokens, your heart swells. The night before the games she delivers Peeta and Haymitch their tokens, a gold medallion and cuff respectively. She then sums up her disgrace in the games with a teary, heartfelt apology and farewell.  She says that they both deserve better than to be thrust into the arena again, and as a citizen of the Capitol, Effie’s apology speaks volumes.

6.  The announcement of the Quarter Quell

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In the book, when it’s announced that the tributes will be selected from each district’s existing pool of victors, readers only experience Katniss’ reaction. In the film, we see all three react in ways that are very genuine for each character. Katniss, knowing she’s automatically in since she’s the only female, runs to and collapses in the snowy woods.  Peeta gapes at the television in disbelief and sadness. Haymitch angrily throws is liquor at the television.  All in all, perfect.

7.  Johanna ‘Eff-ing’ Mason… Literally

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Could Jena Malone be anymore perfect? She’s come a long way since Stepmom. We meet Johanna after the chariot rides as she barges onto the elevator with Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss.  Right after she enters she quickly begins stripping off her costume and noticeably flirting with Peeta right in front of Katniss and it is AMAZING. Her arrogance, her cheekiness, her wink towards Haymitch, all perfect. After that, it only gets better. During her interview, Caesar points out that she seems angry, not tearful she responds saying, “Well, yes. I’m angry. You know, I’m totally getting screwed over here. The deal was that if I win the Hunger Games, I get to live the rest of my life in peace. But now you want to kill me again. Well you know what? F*** THAT! AND F*** ANYONE THAT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!!” And that’s Johanna Mason, everybody. Brilliantly, the F-bombs were bleeped out since that’s what the Capitol would likely do during a broadcast.  Also, Malone’s chemistry with JLaw only makes me more excited for Mockingjay.

8.  The Victors Village (Its just the way we imagined it)

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Throughout both movies, one of the things I couldn’t get over is how they nailed it with the way I envisioned the sets. Specifically, the Victors Village. Everything about the village says opulence, however, it had this dingy feeling of death about it, almost as if it served a reminder of how the victors had arrived. One of the scenes I was looking forward to the most was the confrontation between President Snow and Katniss in the library of the new victor’s home. I envisioned it to be very cold and stark with lots of dark wood, very “President Snow.” The room set up an ominous feeling for the very cold relationship that is to come between Katniss and President Snow.

9.  Plutarch as the new Gamemaker

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Does Philip Seymour Hoffman ever disappoint?  We loved his portrayal of Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Gamemaker brought in to replace the late Seneca Crane.  Hoffman was in a tough position since book-readers already know his role in the story.  Yet he still played a convincing double agent.  Posing as the top Games advisor, he carefully manipulated President Snow without giving even the slightest hint that he was in fact a conspirator for the rebellion.  Hell, I even questioned his intentions for District 12’s survival when he bellowed “Change it up.  Spin it!” and I read the book twice!  Props to Hoffman for his dynamic performance, and his decision to dress Plutarch in a more subdued manner.

10. The Arena and it’s little horrors

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This time around, you could say the ante was upped with the games and the chaos that came along with it. Poisonous fog, crazed monkeys, jabberjays, blood baths of rain, rotating cornucopias. I was a little nervous as to how they were going to go about some of these, specifically the poisonous fog, but the execution was perfect. I mean, who didn’t feel their skin bubble up when Katniss touched the fog and screamed in pain. I sure did.

11.  Nuts and Volts

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I’m currently watching Jeffrey Wright wreak havoc on Boardwalk Empire.  When I realized he was Beetee, I was a little nervous.  Would I be able to disassociate the heroine slinging Dr. Narcisse and believe he’s a tribute in the arena?  The answer was… Narcisse who?  Jeffrey Wright was sensational as the wiry and brilliant tribute from District 3.  It didn’t matter to us that Wright didn’t 100% fit the bill for Beetee; he was witty and his timing was perfect.  Volts was every bit the teacher and techie that Katniss describes in the books.   Wiress, aka Nuts, the female tribute from District 3, was also a pleasant surprise.  I was worried that her “tick-tock, tick-tock” warnings to the other tributes would be too campy when we met her in training and she seemed to be, well, with it.  But, thankfully, Nuts went nuts in the arena and the end result was perfect.

12.  That perfect ending, a look that says it all

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Sadness…check.  Anger…check.  Despair…check.  Determination…check.  Loneliness…check.  These are just some of the emotions that Jennifer Lawrence packed into her final close-up, when she learns the extent of the rebellion and her role as the Mockingjay.  In the last minutes of the film, Katniss Everdeen learns that while her family is safe with her in District 13, the rest aren’t so lucky.  As Gale so gently puts it, “There is no District 12.”  While the scene was fantastic because it was a true adaptation from the book, Jennifer Lawrence took it to a whole new level when she delivered so many intense emotions in one look.  We know that YA films are usually overlooked by the Academy, but they just might have to reconsider after seeing Lawrence’s passionate performance.


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12 Must-See Fall Movies

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With the summer blockbuster season drawing to a close, it’s time to head back into theaters for some of the most highly anticipated films of the year. From blockbusters to buzzworthy indies, this fall season has them all and we’re counting down our top 12 picks. Below are the movies we can’t wait to see, which one are you most excited for?

1. Lone Survivor

“Based on SEAL Team 10’s failed mission: Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005, to capture or kill a notorious Taliban leader during the War in Afghanistan.”

Reasons to watch: That cast. That story. It promises to be an edge of your seat movie. The trailer alone makes me an emotional wreck.
Also, I’m excited to see Taylor Kitsch. Finally, he’s making smart career moves and joining a great ensemble for a dramatic movie rather than trying to carry a one-dimensional, action movie on his own.

In theaters for limited release December 27, 2013.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

“Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.”

Reasons to watch: Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, the dream team is back together. What more of a reason do you need? Oh, and this gif.

In theaters November 15, 2013.

3. Parkland

“A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.”

Reasons to watch: I’m a sucker for a historical movie, especially if it involves JFK. The incredible story aside, the ensemble cast is impressive and includes such names as Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thorton, Jacki Weaver, and Paul Giamatti.

In theaters October 4, 2013.

4. Gravity

“A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.”

Reasons to watch: The movie just had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and has many marveling at both the technical and emotional achievements of the film. Rumor has it, Sandra Bullock is a shoo in for this year’s Best Actress award.

In theaters October 4, 2013.

5. Catching Fire

“Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.”

Reasons to watch: The latest installment of the series follows the story of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mallark (Hutcherson) as they are forced to participate in the 75th Hunger Games. This movie has a new director, new writer, and bigger budget. Here’s hoping that all of our disappointments about the first film are washed away with the sequel. And I’m more than excited to see all the new cast members like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, and Sam Claflin.

In theaters November 22, 2013.  Check out the trailer breakdown here.

6. Dallas Buyers Club

“The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.”

Reasons to watch: A lot of Oscar buzz around Matthew McConaughey’s performance, will it be worth the hype?

In theaters November 1, 2013.

7. American Hustle

“The story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians – namely, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey.”

Reasons to watch: A lot of actors playing against type. The film reunites David O. Russell with several of his favorites (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from The Silver Linings Playbook and Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter) so performances promise to be strong.

In theaters December 25, 2013.

8. Carrie

“A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.”

Reasons to watch: Every list needs a campy horror flick so why not include a remake of a classic? Chloë Grace Moretz brings her skill to the title role with Julianne Moore playing the part of her deranged mother.

In theaters October 18, 2013.

9. Out of the Furnace

“When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement fails to follow through, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.”

Reasons to watch: Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe… I can keep going.

In theaters December 6, 2013.

10. Rush

“A re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.”

Reasons to watch: Directed by two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth’s performance is garnering a lot of attention (as is his 30-pound weight drop). The script was crafted by Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan and is being praised for its suspense and sexiness.

In theaters September 27, 2013.

11. Prisoners

“When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?”

Reasons to watch: With Terrance Howard and Hugh Jackman portraying the fathers of the missing girls and Paul Dano the potential kidnapper, the performances promise to be quite powerful.

In theaters September 20, 2013.

12. Captain Phillips

“The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.”

Reasons to watch: Tom Hanks

In theaters October 11, 2013.


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Catching Fire: Dissecting the Trailer

Yesterday, at the Catching Fire Comic Con panel The Hunger Games team debuted the first official trailer.  All the writers of RPW are HUGE Hunger Games fans, so we were eagerly sitting by our computers waiting for the first glimpse at Finnick and hoping for a sneak peek at the arena.  The trailer delivered that and more.  Here’s the breakdown:

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Victors’ Village

Now that Peeta and Katniss are victors, they live in District 12’s Victors’ Village.  There are several rows of houses and only three are occupied by Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch.  It’s just as dreary and lonely as I imagined it would be.

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Hope

“Since the last games something is different, you can see it.”
“What can you see?”
“Hope.”

In The Hunger Games, the games end when Peeta and Katniss threaten to digest nightlock, intending to commit suicide, they are both pulled from the arena and declared victors.  For the first time in history, The Hunger Games had two victors.  Its also the first time that the Capitol and President Snow have been publicly defied.  Because of her actions, Peeta and Katniss have unintentionally started a revolution giving the nation hope.

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Playing Nice for the Cameras

Post-Games, Katniss and Peeta must keep the faux-romance (or is it?) alive.  I have very strong opinions about how the first movie depicted this romance and I’m curious to see how it plays out in the second film.

“You saved us.  I know that.  But I can’t go on acting for the cameras and ignoring each other in real life.”

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Devising a Plan

“She’s not who they think she is, she has to be eliminated.”
“I agree, but in the right way at the right time.”

President Snow and Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee hatch a plan to eliminate Katniss Everdeen and hopefully eliminate this pending revolution.

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Caught Red Handed

Realizing the upcoming danger, Katniss makes a plea to Gale for them to run away with their families.  Gale is resistant, he wants this revolution. “People want a fight, I’m staying here,” he declares before passionately kissing her not realizing that she’s under Snow’s watchful eye.  Before their Victor’s Tour, Snow surprises Katniss at her home and let’s her know that he controls her every move.  “You fought very hard in the games Miss Everdeen, but they were games.  Would you like to be in a real war?  Imagine, thousands of your people dead.  Your loved ones, gone.”  “What do I need to do?” replies Katniss.

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The Twist

How do Plutarch and Snow plan to get rid of Katniss?  Cue the 75th Hunger Games.  Every 25 years, there is a “Quarter Quell” that allows the Capitol to introduce a twist in the games.  This year’s twist is that 24 victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again.  Katniss and Peeta enter the games for District 12, both vowing to protect one another.

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“I think these Games are going to be different.”

Haymitch says to Peeta and Katniss when discussing the Quarter Quell to provide a little bit of foreshadowing.

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“Ready to go to work?”

God bless you Cinna.  Those who have seen the first movie know how important Cinna’s work was to creating the Girl on Fire.  Just because she won doesn’t mean the work is over.  Cinna, Portia, Effie, and Haymitch band together to build the faux-romance story and give Peeta and Katniss and stronger chance at winning.

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Meet the Other Tributes

Hello Finnick!  I don’t know about you guys but I’m feeling pretty good about this one.  Finnick Odair, from District 4, won the 65th Hunger Games when he was fourteen years old by using a net and trident.  And yes, he’s wearing a fishing net.

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This is Enobaria from District 2.  When she became old enough to participate, she volunteered for the 62nd Hunger Games. She became famous for ripping another tribute’s throat out with her teeth and after the games she had her teeth cosmetically altered to end in sharp points, like fangs, and inlaid with gold to remind everyone of her savage victory.

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This is Gloss, he’s a career tribute from District 1.  I already don’t like him.

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Finally, Johanna Mason!  The axe wielding bad girl from District 7.

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Training

Unlike the last games, Peeta and Katniss go into the training sessions to actually train.  Up against these known-killers, they need all the training they can get.

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District 12 Has Arrived

Dude, the CGI looks so much better than last year!  The costumes are fantastic for the opening ceremony.  Way to step it up.  Do work, Cinna.  And how hot does Josh Hutcherson look?

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The Mockingjay

Again, the costumes are killing it.  During her tribute interview, Katniss’s “wedding gown” transforms into a beautiful and breathtaking Mockingjay costume.  Why is this important?  The Mockingjay symbol (above) is the nation’s symbol for hope.

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The Arena

You guys, we’re seeing much more of The Arena in this trailer than we did for The Hunger Games and I’M LOVING IT!  Also, knowing what happens to Katniss right before she’s sent into The Arena and seeing it all over Jennifer Lawrence’s face.  Whew!  This is going to be rough to watch.

Watch the full trailer below.  Initial thoughts?  The quality seems to be better, the story lines are all there, I’m feeling good.  What are you most excited to see?


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Catching Fire Teaser

Before it’s release last night, I was discussing what we would see in the teaser with a friend.  Would it be just the victor tour, even if though that’s just a fraction of the book?  Or would they unveil the “big twist” and show us the 75th arena, Finnick, and Johanna?  We have our answer!

The teaser mostly depicts the tour and the revolution that is beginning around Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).  We see the riot at District 11 and the execution.  We see the powwow in the attic where Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) tells Peeta and Katiniss that this is their life now, their charade will continue for the rest of their life.  We see what is happening in District 12.  Prim (Willow Shields) is inspired (like the rest of the world) by Katniss’s bravery.  And probably the most chilling scene, Gale’s (Liam Hemsworth) beating in front of the whole district and Katniss.

Then, my favorite part, everything is unfolding as Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) cruelly discuss what must be done about Katniss.  She is a threat that has to be eliminated.  Setting up perfectly for the rest of the story, the trailer (and their conversation) ends with:

Snow: Their entire species must be eradicated.

Plutarch: Their species, sir?

Snow:  The other victors.  Because of her, they all pose a threat. Because of her, they all think they’re invincible.

May the 75th Hunger Games begin!  Catching Fire will be in theaters November 22.


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Catching Fire Teaser Trailer to Debut During MTV Movie Awards

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The Catching Fire Teaser Trailer is scheduled to debut during the MTV Movie Awards hosted by Rebel Wilson on April 14.  MTV has released a teaser for the teaser and you can watch it here.

GOOSEBUMPS! What do you think? Is this taking place before the reaping or during the victory tour?  My bet is on the victory tour.

The full teaser trailer will be available on http://www.thehungergamesexplorer.com/ in partnership with Internet Explorer.