The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

There are a number of young adult novels that have tried their hardest to grab that cinematic spark that The Hunger Games has successfully captured, but very few are able to do so. Those bad ones? They’re made to look like wedding videos in comparison to the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, a worthwhile sequel that contains more top grade action and drama that will make you want more.

Warning; there are movie-ending spoilers in this review.

The Players:

Plot Synopsis:

Time has passed since the 74th annual Hunger Games and the Districts are uneasy, and heading toward revolution. At the center of it is Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) who’s experience in the Hunger Games has left her and Peeta (Hutcherson) shaken up, but President Snow (Sutherland) doesn’t care about that. All he wants to do is avoid a full-out revolution and is determined to eliminate Katniss through some clever mind games and an altered version of the 75th annual Hunger Games which will force her back on the field again.

The Good:

  • Our Stellar Cast: Most young adult movie franchises that contain weak actors who fail to grasp your attention, but that’s not the case with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Throughout the cast we see a fantastic mixture of bright young actors and dedicated veterans who bring more dimensions to these already complex characters in this dystopian future. The biggest change we’ve seen in this sequel is the amount of experienced supporting actors joining the strong cast, including the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman and more. There’s an air of mystery to each one of these new characters as you sit and wait to see if they’re on Katniss or President Snow’s side. Speaking of Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence continues to show us that she’s the perfect big screen interpretation of that character as she bobs between a flurry of mixed emotions, trying to keep afloat in a bleak and unforgiving world. Jennifer Lawrence brings an added dimension to our struggling heroine as she battles a number of demons out in the real world and in her own mind, making us fall in love with Katniss even more.
  • The Look: The creativity of the production design and the wardrobe alone is a sight to behold in this movie. Similar to the book, we get a better idea of the world surrounding Katniss and Peeta outside of District 12. We’re able to peer out at a few other Districts along with the exuberant glitz and glamour of the Capitol, all of them brought to life by a fantastic production design team. They even manage to sprinkle variations on what are rather simple outfits on members of the Districts, including that wonderful scarf/shawl that Katniss has draped around her at the start of the film.
  • The Brink Of Revolution: This is an unstable world that Katniss and company live in right now, especially after the 74th Annual Hunger Games. There are the themes of change, of one voice sparking a new chapter in the lives of many, poking out of this film and it’s approached with grace. As a viewer you feel uneasy along with Peeta and Katniss as they do their Victory Tour, traveling around the 11 Districts as they pay their respects to those in the previous Hunger Games who have died, but that’s overshadowed by the impending revolution. The themes of hope, change and the sense of family through chaos reign supreme in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and are articulated wonderfully under the direction of Francis Lawrence.
  • Cliffhanger: If you’ve read The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, then you know the movie ends with Katniss receiving some life-altering news, finding out that her beloved District 12 is no more. The sequels to these young adult novels-turned-films usually get dull by the end because there’s little to drive you back to the theaters. For those of you who may have guessed by this point, the revolution is upon these characters by the end of Catching Fire and we can’t wait to see what happens in Mockingjay.

The So-So:

  • Balancing Act: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has a running time of over 2 hours, and once we get into the 75th Annual Hunger Games (the Quarter Quell), you can definitely hear the impatient drone of the clock ticking away. Similar to what happened in The Hunger Games, the movie slows down to a snail’s pace once we actually get into the main event, which is a little odd considering it is the most action-oriented part of the whole film. There’s more tension felt when Katniss and Peeta and making their rounds through the Victory Tour than there is when you go through the first half of the Quarter Quell. The main blame could be placed on the script, considering that we don’t have to be on the battle field for such a prolonged amount of time, but viewers need to see some action from the Quarter Quell before we can move onto the big cliffhanger.
  • Plutarch Heavensbee: Now I’m not too familiar with the book version of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but the approach of this character (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) was a little sloppy going from script to screen. The character’s true motivation is revealed towards the end of Catching Fire, but the fact that he was able to slip his way into the Head Gamemaster position boggles my mind. President Snow has his eyes all over the Capitol and the 12 Districts, so how could he have let Plutarch return in his Head Gamemaster position if he is for the revolutionaries? This sudden reveal made sense, but the fact that he popped into the Capitol with everyone oblivious to his true intentions didn’t really work for me.

The Bad:

  • There’s nothing awful to report about on this movie here.

Overall:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a solid sequel that both fans of the books and movies will adore. If you enjoyed the first movie, you should definitely make your way to your nearest movie theater to check out this sequel.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is out in theaters everywhere this Friday.

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