Movie Review – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson
This is one of those movies you can’t watch without having seen the first. There are three books in the Suzanne Collins series, and there will be a total of four movies in the franchise. Catching Fire
is both Book #2 and Movie #2, following the 2012 original. I won’t go back and explain the back story of this plot; if you haven’t read the books or seen the first movie you probably aren’t in the market to watch this one. But for a brief synopsis you can read my Hunger Games
Anyway, Katniss is back for a sequel, or a continuation, depending on how you look at it. I liked the first movie enough, although it wasn’t perfect. It’s a great concept more than it’s great cinema, but it’s entertaining at the very least. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this one more than the first, as they were able to put the set up behind them and move on with the characters, creating a deeper story and pulling me even further into a fascinating fictional world.
Spoiler alert if you haven’t read or watched The Hunger Games; Katniss & Peeta survive. Their act of “true love” has saved them from the fate of the other Tributes, and they are now Victors. As they begin their victory tour, they realize that they won’t be able to return to their families & their lives, that they will always be a part of the Capitol’s schemes. And Katniss has unwittingly become a symbol for the freedom of the people, a figure for the unhappy people of Panem to rally behind. In an attempt to quell a future rebellion and to show the populace that even Victors are under Capitol control, the 75th Hunger Games will be made up of previous winners, including Katniss & Peeta. So back in the arena they go, but this time it will be different. This time the Tributes understand that the real enemy is the system, not each other, and that by working together they might just be able to win their freedom.
In a way, the second story is really just a copy of the first. Another arena, another Games, another fight for survival. But it does have a different feel, because of the alliances between Tributes, because of the building pressure between the Capitol and the people of the Districts. The plot has a little more depth, a little more edge, and you can feel the story taking a turn for the violent. Surprisingly, Jennifer Lawrence was weaker in this one than she was in the first. I could feel her reaching and not just counting on her talent to pull her through. But the side characters were much better: Peeta, Hamitch, Snow, Effie. It was as if they had stepped up while Lawrence had stepped back. Weird, but I guess it didn’t matter, because the movie as a whole was an improvement over the original. And I’m excited to see Mockingjay this November, even though it wasn’t my favorite book. If you haven’t gotten on the Hunger Games train yet, jump on; it’s not too late and you’re missing out. Not on the greatest books & movies of all time, but on a highly entertaining story line that has a quick hook and a solid pay out.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆