President Snow

Visualizing Panem Post-Movies

Now that the entire Hunger Games series has been adapted to film, I’ve been taking stock in how these movies have impacted how I think about the book series. I’ll come right out with it and say it – while I LOVE SO MUCH about the movies, they will never top the books for me. There are some creative choices in the movies that I will adamantly reject forever and try to forget (mainly some parts of The Hunger Games movie and some scenes from the last 25 minutes of Mockingjay Part 2). Hmm, that sounds like fodder for a post, but for a later date.

On the other hand, there are some parts of these movies where everything fell into place and just was so RIGHT that it’s taken over how I visualize certain characters or scenes when I now re-read the books.

Right from the Start: Snow and Coin

SnowCoin

From first casting announcements of both Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore, I felt really good about how these characters would translate to screen. They look the part and inhabit those roles in a way that fits so well with how I’ve imagined the characters. Donald Sutherland owns Snow so much for me now that I get chills when hearing his voiceover work on orange juice or airline commercials. President Snow wants me to drink orange juice. Yes, sir! I remember being surprised how sympathetic Coin was in Mockingjay Part 1, but it seemed very right for the progression of the character, and how she would have been without the framing of Katniss’s “unreliable narrator” perspective.

Oh. My. Finnick

Finnick cfFor those around the fandom in Catching Fire casting days, you remember what a BIG FREAKING DEAL this was. Lots of names thrown around to play Finnick. Lots of fan favorites. And Sam Claflin, a relative unknown (outside of roles in Snow White & the Huntsman and a Pirates of the Caribbean movie) was chosen. We had time to “get to know him” pre-CF. He was delightful on Twitter. Set photos leaked that were very promising. There was that Capitol Portrait with the pirate look. And then we saw him in the movie and YAY, IT WORKED.  He was Finnick. He is how I see Finnick now. Bravo.

Awesome Surprises From Smaller Roles: Paylor and Jackson

paylor jackson

One of the great, wonderful surprises of the Mockingjay movies was the development of these two characters, who I honestly never paid much attention to, at least during my first reading of the books. So Patina Miller and Michelle Forbes had the benefit of a cleaner slate to build these characters. And build them they did. They project authentic power and leadership so well that you don’t question the news that Paylor will be president, or Jackson’s role in Squad 451 in the slightest. When I re-read Mockingjay, I see those actresses in full costume. They ARE those characters now for me, and it’s enriched the reading experience.

An Interesting Mix: Effie and Haymitch

effie haymitch

The overly bright, colorful world of the Capitol in Suzanne Collins books is intentional. You have to admit though, that the Candy-Land-on-acid-type buildings would have been too distracting to deal with on screen so the “Capitol color” is restricted mostly to the people, not buildings. But with the costume, makeup, and hair styling of Effie, the team really nailed it, and Elizabeth Banks surely took charge of making that character her own. I think the decision to add Effie to District 13 was a good decision for Mockingjay Part 1, but still think Book!Effie follows a more realistic path for that character. I love how Elizabeth Banks gave the character more heart, but I don’t see Effie really changing that dramatically so quickly. In terms of how I visualize the character though, it’s all Elizabeth Banks in her full Capitol glory. Kudos to her and the design team for the creativity and transformation.

Then we come to Haymitch, who I always though of as more “Seam” in looks with darker hair and complexion, more damaged, more dirty, more foul, and much more drunk than we see in the movies. Regrettably, the movies give us a PG-version of Haymitch. Sure, you see him drinking, and his mockery and wit is there, but he’s nowhere near the abrasive drunk he is in the books.  I would have loved to see Woody Harrelson given full reign to make the character more rough. All of that being said, when I read the books, my mind sees Woody Harrelson and that blond wig. Somehow, he’s convinced my brain. He is Haymitch. The mind does what it wants. It’s interesting that this happened, considering this next part.

The Big Three: Love You Guys SO MUCH, but…

What about Katniss, Peeta and Gale? Jennifer Lawrence did a phenomenal job with Katniss. She grabbed hold of that character and owned the performance throughout the four movies. So much so that her voice is very much Katniss’s voice to me. I feel the same way about Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (well at least 90% for Liam, but he got better as the movies went along). For all the wonderful ways they inhabited these roles, my mind still can’t (or won’t) adapt. The way I perceive these three in my mind’s eye when reading the books is much different. The cast is perhaps too physically beautiful, too Hollywood, and for Katniss and Gale, yes, too much of northwestern European ancestry to cancel out how I’ve always imagined the three. It’s nothing against the actors, because those are things they can’t change and these were movies with certain expectations of super-Hollywood-esque attractiveness from the leads.  Katniss and Peeta especially remain murky visual concepts in my head, and I’m fine with that. It’s probably better that way for the two characters who I love the most.

Movies – they mess with your head in unexpected ways.

JJ

 

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Mockingjay Movie Moments That Mattered

Back in our post about spoilers, we talked about how moments specific movie moments are important and have their own unique value. Now we’re going to talk about the special movie-only instances that caught our eye!

We should mention that a great one was already mentioned in JJ’s latest post: Castor and Pollux in the sewers, pooling their strength and solidarity to make it through a tough scenario.

“Plucked!”

President Snow’s need for control is so immense, he feels the need to correct President Coin when she misquotes him. No one can hear him and the rebellion is knocking at his door, but it doesn’t matter because dammit, Coin was misrepresenting him!

Those eyebrows though.

Those eyebrows though.

Leeg’s Last Stand

This isn’t what happened in the books, but we might have liked this better. Rather than Leeg 1 and Leeg 2 dying in completely separate instances, they take a final stand together. One is immobile, but the other stays by her side, knowing the inevitable outcome. There’s a really harrowing shot of the twins hunkering down and aiming their guns toward the stairs, where they expect the Peacekeepers to storm in at any minute.

Finnick’s smile during The Capitol’s tribute to his “death”

The Capitol tries to capitalize on the destruction of Squad 451 almost immediately, flashing a Hunger Games-style tribute to them with the anthem blaring in the background. No one is more amused than Finnick, who’s on hand when a mega-watt smile. It would be adorable… if you didn’t then remember that Finnick was minutes away from death, thus crushing your soul.

It's like this smirk but later away from Annie and... *lip quiver*

It’s like this smirk but later away from Annie and… *lip quiver*

F^%&KING MUTTS!

Yes, we knew they were coming. But the build up was so tense! Damn it all if we didn’t freak right the fuck out in the moment that the first lizard mutt jumped out. There’s a stark difference between reading about these thing and having them leap into your vision after being strung out by shadows and blurs for the three minutes prior. Jump scares get us every time, so frankly we’re just lucky we didn’t pee ourselves a little!

Plutarch’s Letter

We saw the stills from this scene, but we didn’t realize exactly what it was. Haymitch is reading Plutarch’s final words– or rather, Woody Harrelson was delivering them in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. The speech is bittersweet to begin with, but read in this fashion, your heart sinks and you give it all a little more consideration. Not the best pick-me-up, but a really solid scene!

The Hayffie Kiss

Guys. GUYS. WHAT EVEN. Up until a couple weeks ago, Hayffie was a moderately popular bit of fanon supported by Elizabeth Banks. It always seemed to be an inside joke, but then they were kissing in the movie! Not a first-time passionate kiss, a “We’ve been at it for months while you were too busy looking elsewhere” kiss! It’s not quite Greedo shooting first (if compare book-to-movie against movie-to-“remastered”-movie), but it definitely affects opinion in the fandom going forward!

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This is way adaptations are a big deal from fandoms. Books are incredible, the life force behind most fandom. The screen adaptations add new layers of quirk, heartache, fear, and everything in between!

So Many Feels To Revisit…
The Girl With The Pearl

VV’s Spoiler-Free The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review

We saw Mockingjay Part 2 last night and we want to scream all the details with absolute elation from the rooftops. But we won’t, because it’s only Thursday and we’re not terrible people who want to spoil it all for the masses. So we’re going to give a general, spoiler-free review.

12043070_10153658258916810_107667881438186217_nReally, this is all about THE FEELS. There are a lot of them. I went to the Mockingjay Double Feature and I started to tear up during Mockingjay Part 1, which is something I didn’t even do the first time I saw it, just from the sheer momentum of what was to come. It’s the end of an era, but if it’s gotta end.. Damn, at least it went out with a bang!

We’ve read the books more than once and talked about them at length here, so like many of you, we knew what was coming. Know this: Being aware of what will happen and watching it unfold in a visual medium are two very different things. There were several situations throughout the movie in which waiting for the other shoe to drop amped up either the tension or the excitement for me– sometimes both. It’s a testament to the way Francis Lawrence and his team purposefully crafted the film to squeeze every possible emotion from the tale.

297A9B5D00000578-3117094-image-m-29_1433866860839Likewise, the action is pulse-pounding and sharp. The film deftly portrays the horror of violence and war without glorifying it, exactly as its source material sets out to do. With the details covered pretty thoroughly in Part 1, this film wastes no time jumping into the action. The pacing isn’t too breakneck, but you don’t have much downtime until the last few scenes.

More than being utterly gripping, this film is the franchise’s best tribute to Suzanne Collins’ work. The film follows the book more closely than any movie before it without losing its cinematic glow. The popular scenes and quotes that you’re waiting for are there, perhaps delivered in a way you didn’t always expect but powerful nonetheless. That’s not to say there aren’t any changes, but they were pretty minor and didn’t affect the overall viewing experience for us. We were hit hard by one scene change in particular, knowing it was due to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely passing.

19291497-20776541-thumbnailThe acting has always been superb in the franchise, but I genuinely think they give their best performances to date. Liam Hemsworth transforms Gale’s broody nature into something more fierce and palpable and Jennifer Lawrence just is Katniss Everdeen, but this is especially true for Josh Hutcherson, who truly rose to the occasion and portrayed Peeta’s compromised mental state with a zinging undercurrent of desperation and earnest. Of course, the supporting cast was also wonderful as always, particularly Julianne Moore as Alma Coin and the members of Squad 451, who really got to sink their teeth into this script.

new-effie-stillWhile I ultimately loved the film and its sweet ending, we do imagine that– as is the case with most epilogues– it will become a source of debate in years to come. It’s more about your perception of the characters and their lives in the aftermath than the actual content.. aaaand that’s all we shall say about that for now.

Urgh. We love this film. We love this franchise. We are clearly biased as all hell, but if you’re here, we think you will too. If you’re a Hunger Games fan, this final movie has so much to offer you and you will not be disappointed!

We’ll Do The Crazy Spoiler Edition Soon,
The Girl With The Pearl

The Deleted Scene that Was Behind the Scenes

There are certain levers that Lionsgate knows to pull to REALLY set the fandom off (in a positive way). 1) Tease new material. 2) Make fans do something silly on social media to get the new material. 3) Make the new material feature Peeta. Or Katniss and Peeta. That one is when you want total fandom mega insanity x 1,000,000.

They did all three this time, releasing on President’s Day a new deleted scene of Snow and Peeta in the Capitol, after making fans go crazy with the #UnlockMockingjay tweets again. This time, the unlocking had a great payoff – the scene is 3 minutes of fantasticness for many reasons, but I understand why they left it out of the film – it would’ve given the Capitol’s strategy away too early in the story.

It starts out with President Snow watching one of our favorites scenes from the Quarter Quell, when Peeta is revived from being electrocuted and Katniss is genuinely showing her feelings of relief, and dare we say, love, for him. Movie!Snow really watches a lot of Katniss and Peeta, it’s pretty damn sick actually. I can’t imagine what obsessively watching the two of them together does to help strategize his plans to keep power, other than he’s a secret Everlark shipper, but the really sadistic type of shipper that writes fanfic with MAJOR CHARACTER DEATH.

Anyhoo, he’s interrupted from his QQ rewatch by his granddaughter, who wants to meet Peeta. Because who wouldn’t? Sign me up too. But, Snow’s like, “No way, he’s mine.” and shuts her down. Then Peeta arrives, appearing to be scared shitless, quite understandably. And they have a nice little chat where Snow praises Peeta and explains what he wants him to do – use his words and approachable public image to help calm the public and stop the rebellion.

Peeta Snow face off

Only SNOW’S NOT ASKING… Chilling final line. Also pretty disturbing is how Snow just casually lies about how Peeta’s cooperation would get him back HOME again. You know, this place.

district 12 destruction

Not cool, Snow. Not cool at all. In fact, we really hate you right now.

We’ll hate you even more after we watch Mockingjay Part 1 again tomorrow.

JJ

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

Mockingjay Still-O-Rama Reactions

Mockingjay is less than two weeks away! Besides press tour interviews galore (and the return to the entire cast seemingly getting sick at once), there’s something else coming in droves: NEW STILLS AND BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES!

Of course, you don’t just see a still. You see it and you have a reaction. Sometimes it’s just a basic “Oh that’s cool!” or “Meh”, but sometimes it’s something much bigger. So let’s share those more substantial reactions:

Effie1

Effie’s eyebrows are in a semi-natural state! Now are they gray-ish from years of over-treatment, plucking, etc? Or are we actually supposed to believe that homegirl has naturally light blonde eyebrows? Because as a natural blonde, that does not happen! Wait, what’s Effie’s natural hair color? Does SHE even know?!

District13-5

WIIIIIIIIIG! It’s like “The Mole” scene from Austin Powers for us at certain points. It’s not a bad wig– it’s actually a good one, hairline-wise and all that jazz. But you started thinking about how shiny and perfectly wavy her hair looks and then OH YEAH IT’S A WIG. Because nobody’s real hair ever stays that nice. We mean, Woody has a wig too but his reflects his character, thus is a total mess.

District13-4

Is that District 13 schematic just like… their screensaver or something? When they don’t have anything relevant to their missions, is that always just there in the background like “HEY GUYS! THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!”? We’ve seen a lot of that sucker!

D8-Hospital1-620x413

Paylor in contrast to Katniss, Gale, and the film squad is beautiful. She’s got this very salt-to-the-Earth look that’s we’re digging. She is a part of a grassroot rebel movement. They don’t no stinkin’ armor! Okay, they need it, but they don’t have it and they fight anyway. And that is true badassery.

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Snow’s office is awesome and all, but there are young people lined up in Capitol clothing in the upper right-hand corner of this photo. Why are they there? Are they supporters? Could they be consorts toted around the city like Finnick and Johanna were? What are you doing to them Snow?!

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So you’re telling me that the dude with the cowboy hat and mutton chops is NOT in the movie? DAMMIT! DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! WHY NOT?!

Reaction Post: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

It’s that time again, that time where the bloggers of Victor’s Village sit down at our respective computers, and chew the fat about the trailers, and in this case it’s the final trailer for Mockingjay Part 1! Yep, the one we’ve been waiting for for about four months!

 

WHERE SOUND OF MUSIC REFERENCES ARE MADE WITHOUT SHAME OR IRONY
The Girl With The Pearl
: Okay, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to staaaaaart!)

Them There Eyes: Sew… a needle pulling Katniss around like a marionette!

JJ: Katniss’s line is fantastic.

TGWTP: Katniss is talking, and there’s these nice shots of her and Prim and Gale… and then you realize she’s pretty much face-timing with President Snow?

JJ: A big new addition to the screenplay! Snow looks so fiendish there. It’s so unnerving.

TTE: Also Jennifer Lawrence has a Sexy Lauren Bacall voice, which is über important to note.

TGWTP: I’m not sure if I like them chatting. Doubt it will ruin the movie, but it felt weeeeeird. Though the Lauren Bacall voice IS lovely. (more…)

Donald Sutherland Saves the Teen Choice Awards by Being THE BEST

We admit it. We may mock the Teen Choice Awards, but due to our addiction to everything in this fandom, we watch this award show for “teens,” even though we haven’t been teens for quite a few years.

Our fan hearts were happy early on, because Josh was there and he won and was his adorable, sexy self.  I think this calls for another picture of him in his moment of glory.

josh teen choice

 

But after he won, the show went majorly downhill. It’s okay, this show is not meant for us adult people. But I was debating turning the show off since Jennifer was not there and the only other category besides hers was “Best Villain” and no way Donald Sutherland was going to bother to…

WAIT

HOLD UP

Donald Sutherland is on the TV. Wearing a tux and a white rose.

Throwing berries to the audience.

Such a great (and badly needed) surprise. THANK YOU for saving the night. It’s these type of moments that make us really love the cast. When they take the time to play along with us fans. Donald Sutherland is an actor with a long, distinguished career who I doubt cares about winning a brightly painted surfboard. He didn’t need to take time out of his life to show up at this silly award show, but he did. And it was glorious. The visual of seeing fans give a three finger salute to “President Snow” was a unique experience but ABSOLUTELY DESERVED. And he definitely is “nice, sweet-tempered and generous” for that appearance.

Three Finger Salutes Forever, Mr. Sutherland.

JJ

Product This

Awhile back, like a couple of years ago– I wrote about the prospect of The Hunger Games utilizing the tried and truth money-making method of product placement. However, now that a few major companies have made brief, and lasting partnerships with the franchise (Cover Girl, Subway) I’m struck with the thought again of “what if?” In the case of the most recent news of Lionsgate having sold the trailer debut of the first Mockingjay film to Samsung, I’m struck even harder with “what if?” But now it’s pulsing, and loud, and um… annoying.

What if Samsung are the makers of all those futuristic projection televisions we’ve seen in the last two Hunger Games films. Or worse, what if in Mockingjay: Part Two the Holo that Boggs carries around in the field is made by Samsung as well? What if for some ridiculous reason Lionsgate decides that in the last installments of the series to throw integrity aside, and forget that the companies of our world no longer exist, and have no place in the world of Panem. But alas they start

I totes want an Audi now

I totes want an Audi now

throwing in familiar, contemporary logos and symbols left and right, like a Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film. Granted those directors were more tasteful than gratuitous with their usage of product placement, dare I say it– they perfected it, but things could change. They could do close ups on Snow’s white, blue veined hand reaching out and clicking a button on his projection television, and the Samsung logo is clear and prominent, like Audi in iRobot, or Omega in Casino Royale, or Ducati in Tron: Legacy– or the worst offender of them all, almost every frame in Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Speculation you will be the death of us!? Damn… I want a Coke.

Them There Eyes

Cinna’s Subliminal Design Clues

Caesar’s Scrunchy is back once again with EVEN MOAR visual beauty! Today, she’s talking about how Catching Fire portrayed the way Cinna left his mark on more than just The Mockingjay!

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I decided to fill the time waiting for “Mockingjay” by watching “Catching Fire” again, and noticed that Effie Trinkett was wearing a necklace (in Katniss’ wedding dress/Mockingjay dress scene) that looked like arrowheads. Then I noticed Katniss’ earrings when her dress transforms become arrowheads too, and then… there were arrowheads (triangles) ALL OVER the movie!

And they were worn only by Katniss’ allies, whether she knew they were her allies or not.

Then I decided that because, as Effie says, Cinna is the most influential designer in the Capitol, it makes sense that he would put these arrowheads subliminally in his designs, and that others would copy him.

Check it out – these pages show Cinna’s influence, with tons of arrowheads (triangles) throughout. I found these images from basic Google web searches (I don’t own any of the photos or anything else– it all belongs to Lionsgate and Suzanne Collins, ok?)

KATNISS

2 Katniss 1b

4 Katniss 2b

PEETA

6 Peeta b

VICTORY TOUR COSTUMING

8 Victory Tour b

JOHANNA

14 Johanna b

HAYMITCH

10 Haymitch b

FINNICK

12 Finnick b

BEETEE

16 BeeTee b

PLUTARCH
18 Plutarch b
PRESIDENT SNOW AND HIS FOLLOWERS

19 Snow
20 Capitol Folk

GALE

21 Gale

EFFIE

22 Effie

OTHER ARROWHEADS

23 Whole Cast

24 Arena

But trust me: it’s tons of fun watching “Catching Fire” again, and seeing if you can find who else wears the arrowheads…and who doesn’t!

Sincerely,

Caesar’s Scrunchy