The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Distributed by Lionsgate
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Having never read the books the movie was based on, I went to see The Hunger Games based on the action and the glimpse of the storyline offered in the promotional trailers for the film. I had a feeling that the movie would be epic and I was not disappointed in the least. It only made sense that I would find myself in the theater a year later to view the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
When we last left our heroine Katniss Everdeen, she had won the 74th Hunger Games. It was the first time that there were two winners of the games and Katniss returned to the 12th District with her male District 12 tribute and alleged lover Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Katniss appears to be suffering some from post-traumatic stress disorder, but is trying her very best to adjust to life after the games with her family and boyfriend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). Unfortunately, during the 74th Games, Katniss made a very deadly enemy – President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Apparently, Katniss’ actions in the last Hunger Games has given the citizens of the beleaguered districts hope, something that President Snow cannot allow. For if the downtrodden have hope, they have the will to rise up against the establishment and perhaps move toward freedom. Snow approaches Katniss and threatens her family should she not play up to the romance with Peeta in an effort to quell the uprisings of the Districts during their victory tour. Unfortunately, no matter what Peeta and Katniss do, riots erupt at every single District they visit along the tour.
In a last ditch effort to destroy Katniss’ credibility with the masses and perhaps put an end to her once and for all, President Snow, with the assistance of new Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), announces a change for this new year’s Hunger Games. Being the 75th Anniversary and the Quarter Quell, the rules will be changed and the tributes will be chosen from the winners of past Hunger Games, forfeiting the protection always afforded the winners in the past. Once again, Katniss and Peeta find themselves competing in the games, but this time it will be against a more hardened group of players who have much more to lose than ever before.
The rules have changed, the game is completely different and the President has an axe to grind. Could this be Katniss’ last stand against the corrupt government that has oppressed her and her people for 75 years. Or will this be the year that it all comes crashing down for the government of Panem?
I had heard some rumblings about this sequel to the Hunger Games. Critics had complained about the film dragging in places, being too long, not being as entertaining as the last film. I wondered what could have changed from the last movie, or perhaps if those complaining about this sequel even enjoyed watching the first movie. Perhaps they were against the whole franchise. Once I got to the theater and the film began, I wondered what movie these critics were actually watching.
For one thing, I noticed that Jennifer Lawrence’s acting had improved much since the last film. She’s much more expressive as an actress, both vocally and (often times more importantly) visually, giving Katniss much more depth as a character in this film. For another, the whole beginning of this film is set up in an effort to allow the viewers to understand the social unrest and the political ramifications of Katniss’ actions in The Hunger Games. The point had to be made that the people were ready to rise up and that momentum would not be stopped, no matter what attempts Snow or Katniss makes to stop it. So, no, the action of the games wasn’t going to start right off the bat. So sorry that some folks out there can’t take time to think about the social issues and political unrest in the world of Panem, but this part of the film gives the movie more depth than your average action film.
Catching Fire, like the original Hunger Games, is visually stimulating. I love the whole Girl on Fire theme and the weirdness of the Panem fashions which are so much brighter than the clothing of the Districts which must be more functional and less austere and thus drab for a very good reason. The contrast of colors and brightness makes a very poignant statement throughout the film.
The action of the film is incredible. If this is even close to what goes on in the book, I must applaud Suzanne Collins for outdoing herself in her own sequel. Poisonous fog, murderous apes, blood, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, flying arrows and daggers, spear-play and more make this a very exciting movie. But the best part of it all is the crazy twist at the end of the film. I won’t give it away for those who haven’t read the books or seen the movie, but even if you couldn’t enjoy the action or the social and political issues in the film, you have to enjoy this plot twist.
As I said before, I don’t know what movie those other critics were watching, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, an action film that is both thought provoking and visually stimulating with an awesome cast and very believable acting. Catching Fire is a brilliant sequel and I can’t wait to see the trilogy completed. Rumor has it that the last novel in the series will be divided into two film adaptations. One can only hope that the final two films are as good as the first two.