Liam Hemsworth

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!

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Mockingay Part 1 Premiere Day Fan Frenzy

It’s another milestone day. The LA premiere! Reddit AMA, Twitter Chat, Facebook Fan Events! So much goodness all at once, it’s hard to pick just one.

mj la premiere starsWe were very excited to see the Facebook Fan event, because we saw previews of it from when it occurred on Saturday. It did start, how should we say, fashionably late so we haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, because it was PREMIERE TIME.

But while we waited for the Facebook event and the Premiere Livestream to start, we noticed something interesting. Music that seemed very much to be the Mockingjay Part 1 Score started playing. And then that theory was cemented when a female voice started singing The Hanging Tree. At first it was confusing. Who is that singing?

OMG THIS IS JEN SINGING THE HANGING TREE.

Yes, I kept listening because it was on and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. So beautiful. I can’t wait to see it on film. The score beyond that sounds great, with tones from the previous films.

More bts stories!

More bts stories please!

But onto the Premiere! The WHITE carpet looked super cool and everyone was there. New faces like Patina Miller, who wanted to keep her Commander Paylor boots because it helped her immediately get into character. Mahershala Ali told us that Francis Lawrence made blooper reel that documented how things were so wacky off camera and then would immediately become serious at the word “action.” WE MUST SEE THIS. THIS MUST BE A DVD EXTRA PLEASE.

The livestream hosts kept asking about pranks. It seemed to be their go to question. So we learned that Jeffrey Wright had a close call when Jennifer tried to push him in Beetee’s wheelchair. Liam shared that he tries to be zen when around the Jen and Josh craziness. Jen’s favorite costume was her tribute parade costume in Catching Fire and Josh wanted to keep Finnick’s trident from Catching Fire. A lot of soundbites given. A lot of pictures taken. But the best thing about today is that we can now say this is the week the movie opens!

It’s almost movie time!

JJ

Gale or Not Gale? Mockingjay Part 1 and RAAAAAAAGE

When we saw the first promo spot that featured Gale talking smack about Peeta, there was a sense of foreboding. We actually asked “If there were a richter scale for asshole behavior, how far are we pushing Gale here?”

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y'ALL!

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y’ALL!

The answer? Pretty damn far, it seems.

First, let’s establish something. On the whole, Gale was never incredibly nice in Mockingjay. His thoughts on warfare were full-on destructive and awful like…

“If I could hit a button and kill every living soul working for the Capitol, I would do it. Without Hesitation.”

Or this gem regarding his plan to implode The Nut, block off the only exit, and let the people inside, including many innocents, slowly suffocate:

“Is that everyone’s problem? That our enemies might have a few hour to reflect on the fact that they’re dying, instead of just blowing them to bits?”

Or ya know… developing a double-exploding bomb identical to the one that killed Prim meant to target rescue workers, though those bombs that fell on THE DAY may or may not have been his.

Gale has some rage. He’s a fiery one, as Suzanne Collins pointed out on a number of occasions in the novels. BUT Book!Gale usually has a halting point: Katniss, namely in discussing her relationship with Peeta.

As long as he doesn't turn into this, plzkthx

As long as he doesn’t turn into this, plzkthx

In the beginning of Mockingjay, Gale is surprisingly patient with Katniss. He wants her to be the Mockingjay as much as everyone else, but he knows the method isn’t peer pressure and constantly prodding her. It may be manipulative underneath at all, but he does come off like he’s trying to be supportive. After the Peeta videos, he has his infamous “He’s still trying to protect you” line and generally seems sympathetic to Peeta’s plight.

Movie!Gale’s hate, thusfar, seems mainly directed toward Peeta. All that stuff about how he’d rather Peeta die than do what he did? Those veiled accusations of betrayal? IT’S NOT COOL. After everything he’s been through, Gale does have the right to be angry about a lot of things. The idea that he’d project that anger toward Peeta’s forced attempts to “support” The Capitol isn’t even all that implausible, if it was one outburst. We’ve only seen a couple instances, but when that’s all your see of Gale, it comes off like he’s just one uber-jealous mofo.

My least favorite book of 2014 (lest I should read something worst in the next six weeks or so) was one that solved a half-baked love triangle by having one character suddenly become a crazed verbally-abusive control freak in order to make the other more favorable. The sudden change was totally out of character and left me angry, hating the book and all its lazy, convenient writing. We just never ever ever want to feel that way about Mockingjay. We don’t want Gale to become some ANGRY RAAAAAAGE MONSTER that the audience is quick to hate.

What we want– No, NEEEEEEED– in this movie is to see that Gale is angry, but his anger is mostly at The Capitol and sometimes misdirected elsewhere. We need to see that underneath it all, he doesn’t hate or blame Peeta for doing what he did and Katniss for feeling what she does.

Thankfully, the full clip Liam Hemsworth has been taking around the late night TV circuit shows that Gale is seriously scarred by everything that went down in District 12 on the day of the firebombing. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that teasers just don’t give you the full picture. Gale could be remorseful or admit to anger issues, we’re just not seeing it in the spots. He can be angry, but it has to be balanced.

So on a scale of 1 to asshole, let’s give Gale another few days before we assign any numbers for sure, okay?

He’s Normally A 6. Way Higher In District 2. But About Peeta? Naaaaaaw!
The Girl With The Pearl

Mockingjay Press Has Begun!

Over the last several years of covering all things and everything Hunger Games, there are a handful of things that always remain the same. Two of them are that when there’s no news, it’s like a desert wasteland. However, when there is Hunger Games news and/ or press, it’s like a crashing avalanche down a mountain side. I can’t keep track of all the press, and the announcements for press that have come out within the last couple of days! I know that the majority of the cast are in Europe in preparation for the world premiere of Mockingjay Part 1 this coming week in London. So when Liam and Jennifer show up on German television sans Josh, ’cause Josh is ill– I’m not in as much of a clamor as

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that's our Jen!

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that’s our Jen!

I maybe should be, ’cause if I am at level 100 on the excitement scale every single time these people show up on TV over the next few weeks, I think I’ll die of exhaustion, or an aneurism, take your pick. All that being said and done, if anything is like how it was last year during and after the whirlwind press for Catching Fire, the cast are going to be sick as dogs by the time they get to Los Angeles– and in perfect Jennifer Lawrence fashion, she’ll be whisked off to the emergency room with acute abdominal pains, then show up to the premiere looking coiffed, and refined in Chanel.

I suggest you start somewhere though, press coverage wise– because following it all as it unfolds is near impossible unless you spend your life on Twitter, or your phone– or both. Most of the top Hunger Games fan-site are keeping track of everything for us lazy lots though, so if you get lost– go here, and just start clicking! You can’t go wrong with watching a few of the interviews that have come out, or will be coming out, but mix it up a bit, because they are going to start repeating them selves, ’cause journalists have a tendency of asking them same questions over and over again. So if Josh Hutcherson starts to look glazed over, and not just from the fevered illness he’s already infected with, and he starts sounding incredibly robotic, switch to something else! Like perhaps Jennifer Lawrence drawing horses on cakes.

Pace your selves guys! And remember to hydrate. BTW, props to Jen for still doing press while she feels like death warmed over!

Them There Eyes

More Blue Steel and a Pony

I’m just going to say it, Liam Hemsworth is giving us more Blue Steel, and there’s nothing we can do 10402038_900209023322649_5942859702756527118_nabout it. I think we just have to accept that that’s his face, and until he’s old, like 80 something, and will likely be one of the handsomest old men we’ve ever seen– maybe then he’ll be able to pull his jowly face into some semblance of an expression that’s not his un patented Blue Steel– we’ll just have to deal. Boo hoo, such an unfortunate face to endure! Kidding, he’s hot– everyone with eyes can see it plain as day, and at this point in the game– we’re practically begging for promotional material. Therefore Liam’s expressionless face is a welcome reprieve!

Now it must be addressed, or re-addressed, but Natalie Dormer may prove to be the break out star of Mockingjay Part 1. Or, at least that’s what the posters, and the pictures we’ve been slowly getting are saying to us. Cressida didn’t have a massive part in the novel however, but once again liberties have likely been taken– and we’ll just have to deal, grudgingly or not. I’m not going to argue it to death, because I like Natalie Dormer, and I think Cressida is a character that deserves a little expansion. Plus, um– Natalie’s real purtty.

I think it’s been said before, probably here at Victor’s Village even, perhaps by yours truly–
but Caesar Flickerman reminds me of a My Little Pony. It’s the hair ya’ see? It’s got this pompadour thing going on, and then there’s

You're like a magical pony.

You’re like a magical pony.

the tail bit, and obviously the ever-changing color of it that screams Pony to anyone with a memory for pop culture that goes back further than 1998. I’m not ragging on the choices that the hair and makeup heads came up with, because I think it’s a brilliant choice. Also, bear with me, I totally think that Caesar Flickerman could fit in the court of the Sun King, AKA Louis XIV. The brocade suits, the hair, the colors, the stance.

Maybe Caesar Flickerman is a time traveler?!

Them There Eyes

What We Learned From The New Mockingjay Part 1 Stills

In case you missed it, with “The Mockingjay Lives” trailer also came a new edition of Hunger Games Exclusive featuring interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Natalie Dormer, quick bios of Boggs, Pollux, Castor, and Messalla, and a boatload of new stills.

And oh, there’s messages behind messages about the movies in those stills!

1) Gale and Cressida either hate each other or totally get each other

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There are a couple pictures of Gale and Cressida together that make us wonder about how other character relationships will be expanded in the TWO parts of Mockingjay (because hell, that’s definitely room to expand things!) Yes, they’re facing away from each other which suggests that this isn’t a romantic twist– THANK GOODNESS– but there’s some sort of deal going on between these two. On one hand, neither looks particularly happy and they won’t look at each other. On the other, they have each others’ back and it seems like these two share a similar ideology that might have them teaming up quite a bit.

Are we just talking nonsense? We’ll find out in two months!

2) Jen’s wig is pretty solid.. except for when there’s running.

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Witness ZEE WIG.

Not bad, right? Flowy, realistic frizz, and a hair line that doesn’t make you facepalm. It’s not very noticeable at all!

Now.. a second glance:

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IT JUST GOT SO MUCH MORE NOTICEABLE.

Stills of action scenes are very rarely kind to the characters involved. This just proves it. We probably won’t notice it so much with actual, rolling footage, but this shot is a definite reminder that our homegirl got wigged up for these movies.

3) There’s always that one guy.

Extras. Very rarely does one really catch your eye because they’re out of place, but it happens.

Take the District 8 shot. Almost everyone looks tense, resilient, perhaps even a bit frightened and then… Wait. Is that one guy smirking at her?

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It may not be enough to draw most people’s attention, but something about this guy’s look here says “Dude! They put me right next to her! I’m totally going to be in the movie.”

4) Everyone posed in those D13 uniforms (also, see #1)

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Military or not, we’re guessing everyone had a photo-op in District 13′s gray fatigues, just to reassure us that all the characters hate them and even the pretty ones look a bit drab. Alas, more reassurance that District 13 is a fashionista’s worst nightmare.

5) Someone put a tiny braid in Natalie Dormer’s hair EVERY. DAY.

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And yet we can barely manage to braid our own hair without it looks like a rat’s nest. Kudos to Mockingjay’s official braider (we assume that’s their title) and their tiny little hands!

Don’t Blink! Trailer Teaser Time

Happy trailer eve!

Tomorrow we finally, FINALLLLLLLLY get the trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. “About damn time” doesn’t even begin to say how much this trailer is needed, but we’ve already talked about that.

Instead, we’re going to discuss the mini-previews of the trailer that have been released in anticipation of the big day.

First off.. Don’t blink. Not because there’s weeping angels or anything.

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Just kidding, there totally are weeping angels here. Just to make you aware that we are THAT serious right now! (Non-Whovians: These things can kill you in the blink of an eye. Pay attention to the previews!)

These bits are about 10-15 seconds, but how much is actual footage?

3 seconds of footage, 7 seconds of President Snow quotage.

2 seconds of footage. Almost 3. 2 1/2, to be fair.

The trailer is short, so we suppose it should be no surprise that even their trailer previews are short. Most movies give you a solid 5 to 10 seconds of actual footage in mini-teasers. Buuuut we’re nitpicking because we’re desperate for more.

There’s really not much to comment on, but we are liking what we see. Katniss looks positively horrified as she discovers the beautiful white rose amongst the dead flowers in her abandoned house. Katniss and Gale fighting off Capitol predators together in District 8 is pretty much the only form of Katniss/Gale “togetherness” we can get behind.

And that right there is the big point:
The campaign for this movie has been very slow and some fans are losing enthusiasm, but we’re still pretty damn sure the movie will be among the best for the year. Why? Because the movie was made by Lawrence Squared, J-Hutch, Hemsy, Nina Jacobson (we don’t have a fun nickname for her), and some of the most celebrated actors out there and the promotional packaging, well… isn’t. In the end, the overall experience feels dimmed, but the movie will probably still leave us all like “OHMYSWEETGOODNESS DID YOU SEE THAT?”

And hopefully the trailer makes us super excited too. Because if we’re only getting one full trailer, it better be freaking glorious.

Looking For To Basking In The Glory With You (Hopefully),

The Girl With The Pearl

Gale Hawthorne– Blue Steel

So, this happened.

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Along with that we also got the other equally as anticipated for character posters. The Girl With The Pearl, and JJ both covered this topic, but they didn’t cover this topic. Liam Hemsworth has one facial expression. You can take that one of two ways, that I’m poking fun at him, or that he’s got to make the best impression on casting directors– because if they paid more attention to his ability to express emotions with his face alone– he’d have to do a whole lot more than chat, or say lines, or whatever the hell those crazy kids are doing in casting rooms now.

In all seriousness, look at the evidence.

Exhibit A. Remarkable that he hasn't aged as well.

Exhibit: A. Remarkable that he hasn’t aged as well.

I don’t know about you, but to me that looks like the same expression he has in the character poster! Maybe I’m being overly critical, because there’s been so very little promotional material of real circumstance for this film as of yet. Yeah, we’ve got the tie-in propos, we got the teaser trailer, but we’re only now getting in character representations of new and old favorites– it feels a little stagnated. And then we get a patented Hemsy Blue Steel expression.

Exhibit B. Same every time.

Exhibit: B. Same every time.

Exhibit Do I Really Have to Say C?

Exhibit: Do I Really Have to Say C?

I feel like we’ve been hoodwinked a little bit, ’cause seriously! That’s the same friggin’ facial expression! True, it’s the same person in all of these photos, but isn’t he supposed to be expressing something else? Capitol Portrait Gale looks a little like he’s holding down a sneeze, I’ll give him that much! But the rest, even the examples of Liam not playing a character other than himself, those are undeniably similar to uncannily similar facial expressions. I’ll throw Liam one bone, ’cause I know I haven’t been that nice to him today. He’s much better outside of still photographs, granted he’s done his fair share of modeling, and he is without a doubt a very handsome young man, but his acting ability is not in his Blue Steel, it’s in his presence on screen, his entire body in movement, acting opposite other people– or with a better director off to the side giving him feedback. Stills are not his game, it’s just unfortunate, or fortunate depending upon how you look at the world, that the world at large’s first impression of Commando Gale looks about as annoyed as he might if his mom asked him to take out the trash. 

Until next time– this has been Them There Eyes with her wacky point of view on a piece of still photography.

District 13 Rebel Reaction

IT’S MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Posterama! We got six brand spankin’ new posters of what will be Star Squad 451 minus Finnick, Peeta, and Katniss; our first official look at the crew in their gear.

And OF COURSE we’ve got lots of feelings we need to share about all this! BEHOLD!

Rebels_Gale2

Oh, Hemsy! Your eyebrow game is just through the roof in this poster. We just want to brush them methodically for you (as we assume someone else did shortly before this picture was taken.) But we don’t love this image nearly as much as we should.

Book!Gale most certainly had some rage at this point in the story line. Yes, he’s finally made it to the rebels, but Katniss still describes him as intensity and fire when all is said and done. WHERE IS THAT? We all know Liam has epic emo face, but what about the other faces?! This is stern, at best. We want RAAAAAGE! He pulled that off much better in the Catching Fire character poster.

Rebels_Cressida2

Dammit, Natalie Dormer! Even in 1,000 layers including various padding, you still look glam! The last time we tried to look fancy, we still looked worth than that. URGH!

We’ve also discovered the new game we’ll be playing through the rest of the Mockingjay Part 1 promotional period: What exactly is the proper brightness of Cressida’s tattoo? It looked much darker and less green in the trailer, but it might have just been the lighting?

Rebels_Boggs2

YES! THIS! THIS FOREVER AND EVER!

If you can’t tell, we really like this poster! The image alone justifies Mahershala Ali’s casting as Boggs. Intimidating but serene, focused and powerful. The kind of guy who seems serious but has a solid sense of humor underneath it all. He definitely comes off as a leader and we are officially excited!

Rebels_Messalla2

Is it just us or was anyone else thinking Messalla had more of a Capitol flare?

Yes, he’s relocated to District 13, joined the rebellion, and probably toned down has look a bit. But still, we expected more than a bridge piercing and a line tattooed on the bottom lip. That modifications aren’t as “Oh so Capitol!” as we’d expected and despite not believing in the government, Messalla was still culturally Capitol. In the book, he stood out much more drastically. Why change that here?

Rebels_Castor2

When… When did one of the camera guys get kinda sexy?

We understand why it was easier to make Castor and Pollux brothers instead of twins… even though it kills the whole Greek mythology reference but WHATEVS. Still, aren’t these guys the “insects”, the background characters that have their special moments but mostly kinda blend in? How are we supposed to focus on military strategy and political strife when there’s lean muscle and faux hawks in our faces?!

Rebels_Pollux2

Not sure how we feel about ponytail and beard combo, but we’ll let this one slide because its FULTON REED (aka Elden Henson). Pollux is a former Avox and admittedly, the styling choices give the character the look of someone who’s been worn down after seeing too many horrors in the world. Also, you can see their “insect” camera bags really well in this one ad we’re digging it!


Everyone’s Worried About Katniss and I’m like “BUT WHERE IS FINNICK?!”

The Girl With The Pearl

The Mockingjay Challenged (with the #ALSIceBucketChallenge)

It’s swept the internet over the past couple of weeks and made over $50 million (and counting for) ALS Association. Some think it’s wasteful and silly, but from a fundraising perspective, it’s worked phenomenally. And it’s given us some priceless videos of people getting cold water dumped over their heads.

ice_bucket_promo3
And some of the Hunger Games Mockingjay crew have taken up the challenge too, offering us a fun little respite from the August blahs.

Thanks to a fan and PanemPropaganda, the challenge got on Nina Jacobson’s radar, who took up the call and nominated the Mockingjay cast’s leading ladies.

Then Francis Lawrence joined in the, fun, nominating the Mockingjay boys.

Julianne Moore heard your cries for MORE WATER.

Liam Hemsworth showed love for Ninja Turtles his challenge.

hems

Willow Shields put on a brave face (but it was COLD).

Jena Malone has plans to take part too. Anyone else thinking about how Johanna was tortured with water? Ok, this just got dark.

Sam Claflin seemed to be game, but we’re still waiting on him too.

He’s probably just devising a plan to out-water Benedict Cumberbatch (I know he’s not Mockingjay, but this was impressive. *Applause*)

And what about Natalie Dormer, Josh Hutcherson, and Jennifer Lawrence? No word on their plans. Though Josh and Jen may be having flashbacks to those freezing days filming Catching Fire water scenes?

Update: Friday night, Josh took up the challenge (while wearing one of his signature white tees, of course). The person pouring the water did it tortuously slow too. Eeeevil.

Update #2: On Saturday, Sam bundled up and got dance-y!

You can show thanks to all those who’ve spread the word with their challenges and support ALS by donating.

Stay chill.

JJ