With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire scheduled to shoot in just a few months, it’s about time for casting to get underway. And indeed, earlier this week we got word of a shortlist for one of the sequel’s key roles, Finnick Odair.

According to that report, Armie Hammer, Taylor Kitsch, and Garrett Hedlund were in consideration for to play the fan favorite character. However, we can now confidently eliminate one of those names from the running. Kitsch has announced directly that he will not be starring in the blockbuster YA franchise. More after the jump.

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With any popular franchise, each subsequent sequel brings new, exciting characters and The Hunger Games is no exception. In Catching Fire, the second book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Finnick Odair is the stand out. He’s a handsome, brash, outgoing and athletic former winner of the Games who finds himself tangled up with Katniss and Peeta. (I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers for now.)

When I spoke to The Hunger Games director Gary Ross before the release of the first film, he said he had some ideas on the casting of this wildly popular character. Now that’s Francis Lawrence‘s job. Fan-choice Robert Pattinson is out but, according to E! the short list contains three worthy names: Armie Hammer, Taylor Kitsch and Garrett Hedlund. Read more after the jump. Read More »

If Safety Not Guaranteed and Battleship seem like opposites in every way, it’s probably because they are. One is an offbeat indie that’s drawn glowing reviews on the film festival circuit; the other is a big, splashy blockbuster that’s been likened to Michael Bay’s Transformers. But both have just released new clips in preparation for their summer bows, so I’ve decided to arbitrarily lump them together. Watch the scenes after the jump.

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Want to watch the entire red carpet premiere of The Avengers from Wednesday night? Has The Hulk become a cover model? Why is Wolverine killing Don Draper? What happened to Tony Stark between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers? How does Tom Hardy think Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is different from Joker in The Dark Knight? Which person could get Taylor Kitsch to come back and play Gambit again? How did X-Men First Class inadvertently derail The Hunger Games sequel? Read about all this and more in today’s Superhero Bits. Read More »

On the one hand, Universal’s Battleship looks, frankly, kinda stupid. It’s an adaptation of a Hasbro toy, along the same lines as Michael Bay’s dumb (but occasionally fun) Transformers franchise, and early spots and footage did nothing to suggest it’d be anything more than an uninspired, cynical cash grab.

On the other, there’s some promising talent both in front of and behind the camera: Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg at the helm and his Friday Night Lights stars Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons in the cast, plus Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard, Hamish Linklater,¬†and Liam Neeson. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the film looked smart, I respected that it seemed perfectly aware of what it was — mindless popcorn entertainment, no more and no less.

But all of that ambivalence was based more on the marketing team’s efforts than on the film itself. Now that the first early reviews are rolling out, however, we’re getting a much better sense of what, exactly, Berg is offering us next month. Read all about Battleship‘s early buzz after the jump.

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Yesterday we saw the first bit of footage from Oliver Stone‘s new film Savages, in which the girlfriend (Blake Lively)of two pot growers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel, the better to get said growers to work for the bigger outfit.

The film features the sort of cast you’d expect to see Stone pull together: in addition to the leads there are Benicio Del Toro, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Demian Bichir, Salma Hayek, Joel David Moore and Emile Hirsch, and it is shot in a style reminiscent of a few of his lurid ’90s entries such as U-Turn and Natural Born Killers. (Speaking of ’90s films, is Salma Hayek cosplaying as Thurman’s Pulp Fiction character Mia Wallace?)

Now we’ve got the full trailer, which sets up the story, offers a little bit of sex and violence, and shoves a knife through John Travolta. Check it out below. Read More »

Earlier this week at WonderCon, director Peter Berg revealed that he’d taken inspiration for his new movie Battleship from an unlikely source: Stephen Hawking. Berg had been watching a documentary in which the iconic scientist discussed Goldilocks planets, so called because their distance from the sun is “just right” for sustaining life. NASA has been trying to send signals to those planets in an attempt to discover extra-terrestial intelligence, but according to Berg, Hawking believes this to be a terrible idea because aliens knowing of our existence can do just as much damage as good. Berg then spun that idea into the plot of the film.

Which sounds pretty interesting, but unfortunately, most of the trailers we’ve seen so far haven’t gone into much detail about the sci-fi storyline. So far, they’ve shown us who the characters are and what it looks like when Berg tries his best to be Michael Bay, but we’ve had no sense of what exactly the aliens are doing here. Now a new featurette focuses on just that, explaining what exactly a Goldilocks planet is and how the crew of the USS John Paul Jones¬†find themselves to be defending our planet from vicious otherworldly visitors. Watch it after the jump.

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Taylor Kitsch‘s John Carter may not quite have been the blockbuster hit that he and Disney were hoping for, but the star will take a second stab at leading a major action franchise when Peter Berg‘s Battleship hits this summer. Inspired by the Hasbro game, the film stars Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson as naval officers dealing with an otherwordly force that threatens to destroy our planet. The new trailer downplays the plotlines and character moments we glimpsed in earlier trailers, choosing instead to dive right in to expensive, explosive Transformers-style action. Watch it after the jump.

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