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“The Hunger Games” recruits Steven Soderbergh as second-unit director

“The Hunger Games” recruits Steven Soderbergh as second-unit director (photo)

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Unless you’re a fan of the trilogy of novels on which they’re based, or happen to have a weird thing for any of the seemingly dozens of young thespians cast in the film, you might not have been paying too much attention to news about next spring’s “The Hunger Games.” But that may very well change when you hear who’s directing the film’s second unit: Steven Soderbergh.

The news first broke over Twitter, and was pieced together yesterday by The Playlist. A couple different people involved with the film, including production designer Eddie Mills and electrician Chrys Blackstone spoke out about the director’s involvement, saying “Soderbergh in the house this weekend!!! Very exciting!” and “Holy sh*t! Just found out that Steven Soderbergh is coming to the #hungergames to direct 2nd Unit. I am so excited this is getting good!” Both tweets, however, have since been deleted.

While Soderbergh’s involvement might seem odd at first, he actually has a long-standing friendship with the film’s director, Gary Ross. Not only was Soderbergh a producer on Ross’ “Pleasantville,” but Ross has reportedly looked over Soderbergh’s scripts in the past. Additionally, “The Hunger Games'” production designer, Phil Messina, has also worked on a number of Soderbergh movies including “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic” and others.

If you’re a member of the uninitiated, “The Hunger Games” are basically a televised competition in which young adults fight to the death – similar to Japanese cult film “Battle Royale.” The film takes place in the dystopian nation of Panem, in the area once occupied by the United States. As penance for the outlying districts rising up against the capital, the folks in charge force each district to send one girl and one boy to the fight-to-the-dead Hunger Games. While technically young adult, the books are incredibly dark and mature, and have attracted a wide audience of older readers.

Soderbergh is widely renowned for his speed and ability to film and edit footage quickly, a skill that will no doubt be put to the test on “The Hunger Games,” as the production team is currently rushing to meet a March 23, 2012 release date. The film features a massive ensemble cast, including Jenneifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Paula Malcolmson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

What do you think about Soderbergh signing on for “The Hunger Games?” Does it peak your interest in the adaptation of the best-selling novels? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

New “Hunger Games” photos show us Katniss and her two leading men

New “Hunger Games” photos show us Katniss and her two leading men (photo)

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I’m nearly through with the third book in Suzanne Collins’ dark dystopia series “The Hunger Games,” and I haven’t been able to put it down. The story is a wonderfully written, emotional take on a teenage girl forced into the most horrific of circumstances, and her journey through a damaged world teetering on the brink of revolution. The novels have been runaway bestsellers and now with a movie on the way, we have our first real look at the three main characters in action courtesy of EW.

The books follow Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in the former USA. As penance for the outlying districts rising up against the capitol decades ago, each of the twelve regions is forced to send one boy and one girl to the annual Hunger Games, an arena-based fight to the death.

“Winter’s Boss” star Jennifer Lawrence has been cast in the main role, with Liam Hemsworth as her best friend and hunting partner Gale Hawthorne and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, the baker’s boy who is picked along with Katniss to serve as the tributes at that year’s games. While technically a young adult series, “Hunger Games” is incredibly mature in its themes and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the state-sanctioned murders in the trap-ridden arena. It should make for one hell of a film, and we’re anxiously looking forward to seeing Hollywood’s vision.

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Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games”

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Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games”

What are you looking forward to seeing most from “The Hunger Games” movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

“The Hunger Games” motion poster, now with more fire!

“The Hunger Games” motion poster, now with more fire! (photo)

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It’s no secret that “The Hunger Games” is positioned to be the next big book adaptation to capture movie audiences attention now that the “Harry Potter” franchise has concluded and the “Twilight” saga is on its way out the door.

The expectations are well-deserved, too. The film based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy has all the makings of a blockbuster, with a young cast of characters and up-and-coming actors playing them. Fortunately, it also has an exciting story that should find just as much support among the male demographic as female fans.

Today, Lionsgate debuted a “motion poster” for the film at Yahoo Movies featuring a symbol familiar to fans of the books: a mockingjay engulfed in flames.

In the world of “The Hunger Games,” the mockingjay is a symbol of rebellion against the oppressive government of Panem, a post-apocalyptic nation carved out of what was once North America. In the series, the government chooses two children from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol to fight to the death in a televised tournament and serve as a reminder of the absolute power it holds over its citizens.

Oscar-nominated “Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence plays main character Katniss Everdeen, a girl from a poor District who’s forced to fight in the games. Lawrence is joined in the film’s cast by notable actors Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz, among others.

“The Hunger Games” is scheduled to hit theaters March 23, 2012.

What do you think of “The Hunger Games” motion poster? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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