The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the long awaited sequel to the 2012 hit The Hunger Games and much exceeds the original film. Under the direction of Francis Lawrence, we get a film that is a near perfect adaptation of the novel.
Catching Fire improves upon the first film by raising the stakes. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) were last seen surviving the 74th Hunger Games by means seen as an act of defiance by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss had sparked a revolution – whether she wanted to or not.
Due to the brewing rebellion, President Snow threatens Katniss to assist him in keeping the districts under control or her family would be murdered. During the traditional victory tour of Panem, Katniss and Peeta are instructed to say nothing bad against the Capitol and to keep people from revolting. However, they are not successful and unrest continues to develop/grow in the districts. President Snow announces that the 75th Hunger Games will consist of previous Hunger Games victors. Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the new gamesmaker, promises a much more challenging Hunger Games and vows to President Snow that Katniss will be killed in the games.
The games are just as exciting as the previous film – if not more so. The shaky cam is finally gone, and so the action scenes/sequences are much improved. Whether it’s poisonous fog, aggressive baboons or psychological mind games, the portrayal of the (actual) Hunger Games in the film is extremely intense. There are many instances, when characters are in peril that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
While the games are exciting and intense, they are never the main focus of the film. The actual Hunger Games are shorter than I had expected, but it didn’t detract from the film. The movie focuses more on society acting in defiance of the Capitol. It gives us a broader view of the rebellion taking place in the districts. It also focuses on President Snow’s plan to crush Panem’s hopes by killing Katniss. Although these scenes might end up being slow for some, they are genuinely intriguing to watch.
The performances are top-notch. Jennifer Lawrence excels as the strong, confused and vulnerable Katniss. The performances from Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are good, although Liam Hemsworth has very little screen time. One of my favorite performances comes from Donald Sutherland. He captures how evil and threatening President Snow truly is. Every time he’s on screen you can’t help but be captivated.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is vastly superior to its predecessor. It’s filled with great performances from the main and supporting cast. It’s thought-provoking, intense and filled with twists and turns. On top of that, the film ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you pining for the next installment. Under Francis Lawrence’s direction, the franchise is only going to become more popular. Mockingjay: Part 1 could not come any sooner.
- More noteworthy performances include Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. In fact, the entire supporting cast did a fantastic job.
- The scene in the elevator with Johanna stripping in front of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Peeta, and Katniss was hysterical.
- I enjoyed the balance between character moments and action.