Review: Catching Fire

catching-fire-posterHow do you successfully follow one of the most well-received films of the year?  With a continuation of the series obviously!  Catching Fire, in theatres today, does not disappoint as either an adaptation of a popular novel or as a follow up to the incredibly successful and well-received Hunger Games.

This review contains mild spoilers but likely nothing you wouldn’t have guessed from the trailers and promotional material.

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Tosche Station Radio #73: Mechanical Breakdown

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On this episode of Tosche Station Radio, Brian and Nanci discuss Razor’s Edge and fan expectations!

Kicking off the show, the hosts highlight what’s New on the Blog. Bria penned an unapologetic love letter to the Young Jedi Knights books. She also reviewed Star Wars Legacy #8. There’s a new episode of our sister podcast, Women of Odd Enthusiasms.This week Bria and Emily chat all about Harry Potter. We looked back on one year after Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced Episode VII.

In Fixer’s Flash, Nanci finished Razor’s Edge and started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. She also work on her next NaNo project. Both of the hosts watched Pacific Rim and are now making Drift Compatibility jokes. Related to this, Bria took to twitter and asked for the best suggestions regarding Jaegers in Star Wars. As often happens on the show, the hosts go off on a tangent about meta diversity commentary in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D fandom

Deak’s Dirt starts with the release of the The Making of Star Wars enhanced eBooks. Last week Jedi News uncovered some Star Wars information out of the European Brand Licensing Show. Next up, it’s the rumor roundup. Rumor the first: LFL wanted a 2016 release for Episode VII, but Disney wants them to stay on target for 2015. Rumor the second: Harrison Ford has a deal for Episode VII in exchange for Indy 5? Finally, some big actual news: Arndt is done with his portion of the script, Kasdan and Abrams to finish. Next on the docket: Trailers! Lots of trailers! Specifically Catching Fire, Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past. And finally, in news very relevant to our interests, Jen Heddle and Shelly Shapiro met with Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo the other day. Wonder what they were discussing…

This week’s installment of Camie’s Concerns has the hosts discussing Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells and a more macro discussion of fan expectations and how they impact our feelings of books, film, and entertainment as a whole.

Don’t forget to check out our sister podcast Wrong Opinions About Movies. This week, they reviewed The Counselor.

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and Audible.com.

SDCC Film/Television News Round Up

In completely and utterly unsurprising news, this year’s Hall H panels at San Diego Comic Con were the hot spot for all the film news.  Plenty of new trailers and clips were shown but here are some of the highlights or at least some of the ones that we thought were awesome and mention-worthy:

  • Zack Snyder will officially be directing a Batman/Superman film with an anticipated release date of Summer 2015.  The Hollywood Reporter also says that Warner Bros. is aiming for a Flash film in 2016 and a Justice League film for 2017 but that wasn’t announced at the panel (or at least as far as we are aware.)
  • Lionsgate treated audiences to a new Catching Fire Theatrical Trailer.  (The staff is still recovering from that one.)  The film will be out this November.
  • We also got to see some of the first footage for the Veronica Mars film.
  • The X-men were out in full force with first some footage from the soon to be released Wolverine and then with a trailer for X-men First Class: Days of Future Past.  Basically every X-men every was on that panel.
  • The anticipated Marvel Studios panel didn’t disappoint especially if you were in Hall H.  The audience was greeted by Loki.  Yes, Tom Hiddleston was in full Loki costume and character as an introduction for extended trailer/footage for Thor: The Dark World.  Then the cast/crew for Captain America: The Winter Soldier got to take the stage.  The cast talked about their characters and Kevin Feige mentioned that the Winter Soldier story will definitely stick pretty close to Ed Brubaker’s run on the book.  Obviously, the audience was treated to some exclusive footage.  Once more, the staff is incredibly jealous.  Marvel continued to overachieve by bringing out the cast and crew of Guardians of the Galaxy who all flew in specifically for the panel.  Even though they just started filming less than two weeks ago, they still brought footage with them.  Unfortunately, no new films were announced.  They did, however, have one last mic drop in the form of Joss Whedon taking the stage for the last few minutes to announce the full title for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.   For those in the comic book know, Kevin Feige as said that the film is borrowing the title from the recent book and will not be a direct adaptation of it.
  • How I Met Your Mother got its very first SDCC panel for its very final season.  Usually, this wouldn’t make this post but we’ve poked fun at how the show has dragged on in the past and how those kids must be adults by now.  The crew showed they have a good sense of humor by putting together this promo for Season 9 in which the kids are finally done with Ted’s story.
  • And finally, even though the panel was Friday,  the trailer for Season 4 of The Walking Dead was also premiered and wow does it look excellent!  Season 4 will start airing on October 13th on AMC. 

Catching Fire Teaser Trailer

Probably my most anticipated movie of the year is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (which shouldn’t be surprising considering how much Brian and I talked about the series on the podcast when we first read the books). Last night, MTV aired the “exclusive” teaser trailer during their annual movie awards. For those of you (like me) who didn’t bother staying up that late, you can watch it now online.

Personally, I’m really enjoying getting more of Snow in the films. He’s got that creepy Palpatine vibe that I find so repulsive yet so compelling. And since the books are told in first person POV, it’s nice to see what else is going on outside of Katniss’s world. It makes the story bigger and more compelling.

Jena Malone Joins the Catching Fire Cast

It’s official: Lionsgate announced this morning that Jena Malone, known for her roles in Saved! and Sucker Punch, has joined the cast of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second part trilogy, as Johanna Mason. Some of you may know Malone from her role as young Ellie Arroway in Contact, one of my favorite movies ever.

(spoilers after the jump)

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‘Catching Fire’ Casting Updates

Remember when we talked a lot about The Hunger Games on the blog and podcast? Good news, we’re talking about it again!

Academy-award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been confirmed to play Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire. While that’s the only official casting calla t the moment, the web seems abuzz that Jena Malone of Sucker Punch fame has been offered the key role of Johanna Mason.

Via 

Gary Ross Will Not Direct ‘Catching Fire’

After a weekend of confusion over whether or not The Hunger Games director Gary Ross would return to for Catching Fire, news dropped late Tuesday that he was officially leaving the franchise.

Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.

I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.

Lionsgate Studio also issued a statement.

We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.

As I mentioned over the weekend when dueling reports from the press hit the Internet, I was going to be surprised to if Ross left. Color me surprised, but I do understand his reasoning. With the mammoth success of The Hunger Games, expectations and deadlines were going to mount for the sequel. I did hope Ross would stick around for no other reason than his ability to work with Suzanne Collins to adapt the book to the screenplay. Hopefully whoever Lionsgate brings in next will be able to pick up right where Ross left off.

What this means for the future of Catching Fire is unclear and the rest of the planned four-film series is unclear. Most fans will want to know if this means the production schedule has been set back. When a film loses its director, there’s always the risk that the timetable can slide while studios scramble to find a replacement. For now, fans and the Internet will begin speculating over who will step up to direct in Ross’ place.

For the rest of Ross’ statement, head over to the Wall Street Journal blog.

Director Ross’ Status Unclear for ‘Hunger Games’ Sequel

Yesterday, it was reported that Hunger Games director Gary Ross would not be directing its sequel, Catching Fire. Speculation ran rampant as to why Ross would back away from the already-blockbuster franchise with some showbiz sites stating that a money dispute was part of the issue. Others theorized that he simply didn’t have the desire to attach himself to a single story for the next several years.

Now there are reports that the previous reports were erronious and Ross has not told Lionsgate that he’s leaving. Stepping away from an almost guaranteed hit sequel didn’t make a whole lot of sense and for the sake of the next three films, I’d hope he sticks around. He seemed to have worked well with author Suzanne Collins in creating the adapted screenplay and that chemistry could be invaluable moving forward.

As so many of these stories go, no one really has a clue as to what’s going on. Yesterday’s news sounded rather definitive and today’s followups are backpedaling quickly, leaving fans rather confused about the future of the franchise. Personally, I would be surprised if Ross and Lionsgate parted ways at this point.

H/T to Club Jade for the followup news