The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have survived the 74th Hunger Games and are back in District 12. They are trying to get back to their normal routine but they know their lives will never be the same. Due to the nature of their victory, all eyes are on their “new relationship” and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) isn’t buying their love for a moment. He gives Katniss a warning that her family will be in danger if she isn’t convincing in her love for Peeta during her Victory travels to each district, but as Peeta, Katniss, Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) make their way from district to district, they notice something about the people of Panem… they have hope! Because he fears an uprising is eminent, President Snow wants to make an example of Peeta and Katniss, and for the upcoming 3rd Quarter Quell (the 75th Games), President Snow has something special in mind. The tributes that will be selected at the reaping this year will only be from the previous Victors, meaning Katniss and possibly Peeta will be returning to the games once again! Co-starring Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone, Willow Shields, Lenny Kravitz, Sam Clafin, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, and Lynn Cohen.
I have to say that after seeing the first movie over a year ago, I’m still hooked! The Hunger Games shot up to #25 on my personal top 100 list and was my #1 movie of 2012. I had only read half of the book for Catching Fire and wanted the “meat” of the movie to be a surprise, and I must say, I wasn’t nearly as captivated by this movie as I was the first. Sure the whole act of President Snow getting Peeta and Katniss back into the games is pretty sinister and clever, but once they actually get into the games, the movie changes. The first movie emphasized the fighting, but in this movie (and I’m sure the book too – so I should really be complaining about the book and not the movie but oh well) the games are more about everyone running away from threats created by the game maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and not the other tributes. Sure the scene with the fog was pretty intense, but when it came time for the baboons, I wasn’t feeling like it was the Hunger Games. It felt like this time around the games weren’t the focal point and I really wanted them to be. I know, I know the story and the book isn’t that way, and I get that, but all the more reason for me to love and cherish the first movie (book) more. I also think that the addiction of new characters “watered down” the amount of attention we paid to Peeta and Katniss. In the first movie, the 2 didn’t have very many allies and this go round, there are more friends that foes and they take up screen time as well. Not that these new characters are not likeable, but still, it gave me a different feel. I was hoping for this movie to also take personal top honors in 2013 just like it’s predecessor, but I think at this point, at the end of November, Star Trek, and maybe a few others, are better movies and for that I’m disappointed. Perhaps once I see the conclusion to this story, I will appreciate this movie more, but for the time being I can say that Catching Fire is a pretty entertaining sequel that left me feeling empty at times, and definitely not as good as the first. It may seem like I’m destroying this film, but due to my expectations I feel let down. That is by no means deterring the fact that this is a worhty sequel and I highly recommend watching it. The 146 minute run time felt too short. I wanted more details!
8/10 Stars – It is a worthy sequel to the franchise, but compared to the first movie, it doesn’t recreate the feeling of the characters and the games like it should!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire burns bright as a fairly accurate representation of the second book but doesn’t go deep enough to truly put all the odds in its favor. I think that saying you hear about how the movie always ruins the book might actually be the opposite. For me, the book ruined the movie. The movie was faithful to the book in terms of plot and direction. The problem was that the movie left out too many of the little touches, those things that give moments a deeper meaning or take the characters to a new level. Aside from Katniss there is no character development what so ever in the movie, yet there was in the book. For most people this missing element won’t spoil the fun and excitement but for the true fan it will disappoint ever so slightly. On the flip side, even though this movie is well over two hours and things were left out the film still feels stuffed full. Scenes fly by giving you no time to stop and catch your breath or admire the magnificent costumes and sets. Seriously the costumes are awesome! The quick pace does keep you engaged but it never truly quickens your pulse like the first one did.
Ultimately the success of this film rests solely on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence. If her performance as Katniss in the first film was captivating, her performance in the second film is moving and inspiring. Her ability to morph to the various emotions and stressors of the story is astounding. I can’t think of a single other actress who could have played this part so perfectly. Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin have their shining moments as well and each bring something special to their respective roles. I can’t say the same for Liam Hemsworth who didn’t wow me with his skills this time around and fades into the background as true secondary character.
When it’s all said and done, Catching Fire is a worthy sequel to its predecessor. It carries the story forward with great momentum and does leave you excited for what is yet to come. I may have missed some things from the book – thus the book ruining the movie for me – but that didn’t mean I was any less enthralled by what was on-screen. I can say with confidence I will be seeing this in the theaters again and I won’t hesitate to wait in line to see the next two installments either. I wait with bated breath for the continuation of The Hunger Games.
9/10 Stars – You might not catch fire watching this film but it will surely ignite a spark in you!
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