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November 25, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-25

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8A - Monday, November 25, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

BA - Monday, November 25, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

"Dance with me like you danced with Bradley Cooper." LIONSGATE
"Don't let M. Night Shyamalan anywhere near me."
'Korra'finale concudes
toward darkness Q
-in i1 c showdown1t TY

Latest 'Games'
comes to life with
supporting cast
DailyArts Writer
Play time's over, kids. The
75th Hunger Games have begun,
catapulted on screen with the
"Catching A-
Fire" Soaring
above its pre- The Hunger
decessor, this Games:
sophomore film
is anything but Catching
a soporific fill- Fire
er between the
first and final At Quality16
installments of and Rave
the "Hunger
Games" trilogy. ionsgate
Gone is
the shaky camera from the first
movie. Instead, director Francis
Lawrence ("I Am Legend") com-
mands the audience to focus on
steady close-ups and long, cen-
tered frames. A character dies
withvicious immediacy early on in
the film and Lawrence draws out
every vivid moment of the scene.
"CatchingFire" embraces the hor-
rors ofthe Hunger Games over and
over again in this way, resulting
in 147 minutes of white-knuckling
the edge ofyour seat.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer
Lawrence, "Silver Linings Play-
book") is thrown into spotlight
after winning the 74th Hun-
ger Games with. fellow tribute
Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson,
"Epic"). The oppressed nation of
PanemlookstoKatniss as abeacon
of hope, and unrest begins to stir,
which President Snow (Donald

Sutherland, "Jappeloup") tolerates
the way an exterminator toler-
ates cockroaches. Katniss and the
rebellion must be quashed - and
with this, he throws her and Peeta
into the next televised Hunger
Games by requiring past victors to
be tributes.
For fans of the books, it's a real
treat to see the other victors come
to life. Fans can let out the breaths
they've been holding because
the characters are perfectly cast.
Sam Claflin ("Snow White and
the Huntsman") plays dreamboat
Finnick Odaire with a crooked
smile that will likely be soon
plastered all over Tumblr in .gif
form. Jena Malone ("The Wait")
drops in (and drops her clothes)
as Johanna Mason, who gives
Katniss a run for the Strongest
'n' Sassiest Female spot. Malone
deftly adds sympathetic layers
to her character that aren't even
present in the books.
Malone's creative interpreta-
tion of Johanna is an exception
because "Catching Fire" attempts
to be as true as possible to the
book from which it's adapted.
These attempts cause a few hic-
cups. The book's cliffhanger end-
ing becomes jarring and awkward
on screen. Gale Hawthorne (Liam
Hemsworth, "Paranoia"), Kat-
niss's love interest who lives back
home, also disappears from the
pages after she leaves her district.
This makes sense in the book
because of how tightly the nar-
rative follows her point of view.
She's in the Games; Gale isn't.
But a good adaptation isn't nec-
essarily an exact adaptation. The
movie allows for a much grander
scale because of its medium: For
example, the camera can swoop
over arena treetops and travel
through row after row of drum-

mers at a Capitol parade. It could
have therefore inserted just a
single extra moment of Gale
watching the Games' broadcast
or simply looking depressed.
Instead, "Catching Fire" whisks
Gale away just as the book does,
the abrupt cut creating a total
lack of chemistry between Hem-
sworth and Lawrence. Their
characters' relationship is uncon-
vincing because of how little
screen time Hemsworth receives.
However, the rest of the cast
is electric. Stanley Tucci ("The
Fifth Estate") steals every scene
he's in as Caesar Flickerman, a
talk-show host reminiscent of an
overly caffeinated Ryan Seacrest
whose family seems to be held
hostage by a malicious govern-
ment. His buoyancy reeks of
desperation and artificiality in
a world where image is every-
thing. Elizabeth Banks ("Man
on a Ledge"), too, is oddly mov-
ing as Effie Trinket, Katniss's
gaudy one-woman PR team. And
Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The
Master") graces the screen as
new Head Gamemaker Plutarch
Heavensbee, oozing slickness
and secrets.
Heavensbee's Games takes
no prisoners. The film reflects
this with a much more raw and
darker tone than its predeces-
sor. The glimpses of rebellion, in
fact, seem like an eerie alternate
universe of our present world.
One scene of a rebel holding up
a sign amid flames exactly paral-
lels a famous photo from the 2012
Egyptian uprising that depicts a
protester holding the Egyptian
flag up as fire blazes around him.
"Catching Fire" 's realism drives
a sharp but welcome turn toward
grittier tones: This is the Hunger
Games all grown-up.

1.11 "1"'-. 71LVVV l1VJVV 11

DailyArts Writer
Tradition versus change. Politi-
cal autonomy. Forced segregation.
They're not exactly the topics you
would expect
from an ani- A-
mated show on
Nickelodeon, The Legend
but "The Leg- of Korra
end of Korra"
is a little more Seaon two
ambitious than finale
your average
program. The Nickelodeon
season finale
deals with each of these themes
and more, interconnecting mul-
tiple ideas and perspectives for a
rather intriguing end. Of course,
the show still finds the time to
include a giant fight between
good and evil for the fate of the
universe. Also, there's a talking
mushroom spirit. It's pretty awe-
The fight between light and
dark marks the climax of this sea-
son's main plotline: The spirit of
darkness Vaatu (Jonathan Adams,
"Green Lantern: The Animated
Series") works with the human
Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle, "Sons
of Anarchy") to form into a Dark
Avatar and unleash 10,000 years
of darkness. Upon suffering an
initial defeat, Korra (Janet Var-
ney, "Burning Love") must rely
on her own spiritual strength to
defeat Vaatu. The show's expan-
sive mythology is a little muddled
here, an indication that at times
the show is ambitious to a fault.
The story seemingly employs
deus ex machina to settle things,
not having time to give a proper

the Inte
that, o
arcs, a:
ping m
tity wa
in that
that ea
ing fro
from tr
the spi
more c
in the
one of
the mo
and sp
sion to
cal shi
her tal
that pi

ation for what happened together peacefully. Another
. There might be an expla- major change comes from the end
out there somewhere on of the civil war subplot, where the
ernet, but the lack of clarity Southern Water Tribe split away
ly makes it the narrative's from the Northern Water Tribe.
:t point. This challenging issue, whether
it's atestamenttothe "The or not people should try to live
I of Korra" 's strengths together despite their differences
verall, the finale remains or live separately to keep peace,
ng. This season juggled is approached in a variety of ways
le subplots and character and handled in a nuanced manner.
nd it did a solid job wrap- The mature look at these topics is
nost of them up. Tenzin arguably the show's - not just the
Simmons, "The Closer") finale's - strongest quality.
to terms with his iden- Meanwhile, the romantic sub-
is particularly strong. His plots are more or less concluded,
ter development also par- at least for now. Korra and Mako
Korra's own development, (David Faustino, "Married with
both came to understand Children") break up, while the
ch needed to be their own third piece of the love triangle,
, even if that meant break- Asami (Seychelle Gabriel, "The
m the past and expecta- Last Airbender"), isn't really
Korra ended up breaking addressed, most likely because
adition in a much grander of time constraints. The other
keeping the connection pairing, Bolin (P.J. Byrne, "The
n the mortal world and Game") and Eska (Aubrey Plaza,
rit world open. "Parks and Recreation"), also
ends up not getting together in
the end. Another weak point for
M ore than the series, these relationships
didn't really bring much to the
ght vs. dark. story outside of melodrama and a
little humor.
Nonetheless, the strengths
vastly outweigh the weaknesses.
e, the season deals with The thematic work alone pro-
omplex ideas than simple pels this show well beyond the
versus darkness. Earlier quality of a typical cartoon. The
season, Korra learns that animation and music are also
her past lives sealed off astounding, while the story gives
rtal world from the spirit plenty of substance to the show's
believing that humans fantastic style. Even if it fumbles
Brits couldn't live together at parts, it's usually because it's
it fighting. Korra's deci- being too ambitious, ambition
undo this act marks a radi- that otherwise pays off. And it's
ft in the status quo, with thanks to this ambition that Sea-
king a progressive stance son 2 of "The Legend of Korra"
eople and spirits can live ends on an excellent note.




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