What is The Hunger Games Catching Fire All About?
Following District 12 Tributes Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) win at the 74th Hunger Games (see first movie), Capitol President Snow (Donald Sutherland) becomes fearful that their exploits may be inciting unrest and revolutionary thoughts throughout all twelve districts. In order to kill any hopes of rebellion, Snow orders that the 75th Games, or Third Quarter Quell, be composed of current and past Games winners, so to systematically eliminate any hopeful figurehead that may disrupt the peace and order in all of Panem.
Katniss and Peeta must unite with several other competitors in order to survive and find a way to avoid plotted death in a whole new deadly arena filled with sharp weapons and unseen traps and poisons.
What Does The Hunger Games Catching Fire Compare To?
Basically the same premise as the first film, except the past champions get short changed by the Capitol by being drafted into a special edition of the Games, putting their lives at risk…again.
As with many YA novels of late, this franchise picks up momentum from the three-book series by Suzanne Collins and just keeps running with it. Jennifer Lawrence, arguably one of the most easygoing celebrities out of Hollywood these past few years, just slips into the role of Katniss Everdeen like one would don a comfortable wool sweater. Though she bears one of the saddest “ugly crying” faces this side of Claire Danes during dramatic scenes, she really sells the concept of an unlikely rebellion figurehead, a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks who just wanted to kiss the boy she liked at the end of the District prom. Think Pretty in Pink, if Stefan and Blaine fought for the girl and were likely to die ironically in her name.
The costumes, makeup and set pieces (though many of them an amalgamation of physical and CG backdrops) are just astonishing, completing the illusion for fans of the novels. My personal favorites are still Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks as Caesar Flickerman and Effie Trinket, respectively. The over exaggerated extent to which their characters revel in their cosmetics is just silly and delicious. They really sell the excessive narcissism of the upper class, bring much needed contrast to the story.
Out of 24 potential champions of years past, only a handful are really fleshed out from the source material. Also, Finnick’s background and experiences in the Capitol are glossed over, taking away from his character’s psyche, barely scratching the surface of a much more interesting character onscreen. Though I won’t get into the scandalous specifics of his past, here’s hoping the sequels delve deeper into the reasoning behind that character’s motivations and eventual decisions.
Well, it depends on who you ask. The deleted scenes are mere seconds long, while the interviews and behind-the-scenes pieces are as elaborate as the set designs. If you’re inspired by the costumes, hair and makeup decisions made by the crew, then you’ve found your own cornucopia. Otherwise, stick with the main feature and enjoy the film.
Oh, and there’s a big promo trailer about the similar YA series Divergent, hinted at in the previews. Well played, eOne!
The Final Word on The Hunger Games Catching Fire
I want to say that this sequel far surpasses the original film, but it really doesn’t. Aside from the Presidential scheme against possible martyrs, much of the plot is a familiar rehash of the original. That said, the goods here are delivered by way of equally colorful new supporting characters, especially Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Wiress (Amanda Plummer).
All in all, Catching Fire holds just enough surprises to keep you sated until the last few minutes, where the reveal is just as promising, making you wish you owned a time machine to jump forward a year to catch a glimpse of The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1, out in November.
Score: 3 out of 5