Cert:12A Runtime: 146 mins Director: Francis Lawrence Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Donald Sutherland
I think these games are gonna be different
Last year The Hunger Games caught me by surprise and many other critics, it was fresh and it wasn’t another teen novel gone wrong *Twilight*. Since last November I even bought the books for my better half, which she finished in about a fortnight. For me I will stick to the films otherwise I mite get angry. It really has been a film I have been looking forward to watch this year, Jennifer Lawrence has grown on me as of late especially since Silver Linings and that Oscar win. She is a real rising star in tinsle town. So what happens in Catching Fire? At the end of ‘The Hunger Games’, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) made a suicide pact with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). This forced Panem’s President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to back down. Now Snow is determined to regain the upper hand. Since Katniss has become a beacon of hope to the impoverished people of District 12, he begins by deviously manipulating public opinion against her. But he then realises that other winners pose a similar threat in their own districts. So when the 75th annual Hunger Games are announced, there’s a rule change to make this the most brutal fight to the death ever! Only previous victors can compete, which means Katniss’s ordeal has only just begun.
Catching Fire embraces various elements that weren’t in the first film, or weren’t as evident. For instance, Catching Fire can be very funny at times. The original film had some laughs as well, but not as many as this one (likely due to the extended amount of social commentary). There are also some wonderfully creepy and just plain weird bits. Also noteworthy is that the cinematography is much improved from the original. It reaches a compromise between those who liked the raw look of the shaky cam, and those seeking a more clear and less dizzying effect. The shaky cam is gone, but the camera still moves around slightly, like it’s a home video, therefore giving you the best of each. The biggest issue with Catching Fire is the same as it was for the original- the romance. For 90% of the film, Catching Fire treats the audience with respect and intelligence. The script is decent, and the acting is good. But both of these things falter when the romance takes stage. Just like in the first film, it’s very poorly written- though there are no lines quite as cringe-worthy as some of the dialogue in the first. Still, these scenes drag the movie down, and they’re the only thing that stops Catching Fire from becoming a film that audiences can watch and say they enjoyed without guilt. The romance is simply unbelievable, and immensely cringy.
Another issue is the run time I do feel there are many long periods in the film that are pointless. I am surprised that a young audience can survive two and a half hours of it. The cast is excellent. Jennifer Lawrence is phenomenal as Katniss Everdeen- as she was in the original. The torment she’s in- both physically, and psychologically- is totally believable. Donald Sutherland is back as the chilling President Snow, and Woody Harrelson is in fine form as Haymitch. The hilarious comic relief comes courtesy of Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks as Caesar Flickerman and Effie Trinket. There are many extensions of themes from the first film, and the mildly creepy violin theme for Wiress and Betee is exceptional- I only wish it was used more! While I don’t think Catching Fire is better than the original- it’s simply not as savagely intense, nor as heartbreaking as the first- this is still a superb win for the Hunger Games franchise, and will leave audiences starving for the sequel(s). The very ending- in fact- will leave fans of the book with a knowing smile, whilst those unexposed to the source material will feel like they were punched in the stomach (in a good way), and they’ll be scrambling to get their hands on the third book.