The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Running Time: 2 hours 26 minutes
After barely surviving their entry into Panem's televised bloodsport, The Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have returned home to lives that have been significantly altered. As victors, they are now provided with food, fuel and other luxuries in abundance and they live in large homes in the nearly empty Victor's Village. Along with the rewards, they are now living with the constant scrutiny of the Capital who views their victory as an affront to the government. Next they are forced to keep up the charade of their romance in front of the cameras as they tour the other 11 districts.
The victory tour turns into a disaster as political unrest erupts in each district that Katniss and Peeta visit, with Katniss unwittingly becoming a rallying point for an oppressed people clamoring for revolution. The government has decided to eliminate her as a threat, so for the upcoming 75th edition of the Hunger Games they have introduced a twist: the tributes will be chosen from the existing pool of victors. This means that Katniss and Peeta will fighting for survival again, but this time their opponents won't be other kids, they will be seasoned killers.
I thought that this adaptation of the second installment in the Hunger Games Trilogy was nearly perfect. This movie takes advantage of Jennifer Lawrence's considerable skills as an actress to bring weight to the character of Katniss Everdeen and she skillfully imbues this story with an incredible level of pathos. Hutcherson admirably shoulders his share of the load and the two of them are surrounded by a great group of veteran actors who make sure that you FEEL everything. The fear, the hopelessness, the sadness and ultimately, the grim determination to survive.
New director Francis Lawrence has added a newfound confidence and visual style to this series which has helped them transition to a much more adult level of storytelling in the same way that the book series has. The look of Panem's peacekeepers who intimidate, flog and kill dissenters is reminiscent of the Star Wars saga's Stormtroopers and the sinister machinations of the government are expertly spun between Donald Sutherland's President Snow and Philip Seymour Hoffman's Plutarch Heavensbee. The casual, yet calculated way that they discuss how to break the spirit of an already downtrodden citizenry allows us as viewers to finally see the Capital as the deadly enemy it is, instead of the silly group of out-of-touch peacocks that the first film gives us. Everything about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better than the original. This isn't merely a good sequel, it one of the most complete movie-going experiences of the year. Go see it. A
Catching Fire was intense, emotional, and action-packed. The Hunger Games was one of my favorite movies of 2012. Therefore, I had high expectations of Catching Fire. Director, Francis Lawrence did not disappoint and I was on the edge of my seat for the full 2 and 1/2 hours. Jennifer Lawrence portrays the hoplessness of Katniss perfectly. The real standout to me was Jena Malonewho plays Johanna Mason. She is fearless, unashamed and willing to show the citizens of Panem that she can't be controlled. My only contention is that she doesn't get enough screen time.
If you were waiting to see of the sequel was worth it, the wait is over. Go see Catching Fire, now that the theaters are a little more empty, and be prepared to be Thoroughly Entertained. A