The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland
In UK Cinemas November 21st, 2013

by Joanna Orland

I am one of these people that hasn’t read The Hunger Games book series, in spite of promising to after reviewing the first film in the franchise.  I feel that because of this fact, a lot of the film’s appeal is lost on me.  There were many mumblings of how the film was so true to the many characters and all of this nonsense.  As an avid cinemagoer, I believe that a film should stand on its own two legs, no matter what the adaptation is based on.  In this case, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire does a pretty good job of it.

Following on from the first Hunger Games film, Catching Fire continues the story of our heroine Katniss Everdeen who was the victor of the previous Hunger Games, an annual tradition put on by the evil overlords of the Capitol city to subdue the population and prevent them from revolting.  The Hunger Games are a battle to the death – with only one survivor and victor.  In the first film, Katniss beats the system and manages to not only win the Hunger Games, but also save the life of her friend Peeta by claiming they are in love, and that she would die rather than be the sole survivor of the games.

Many in her society believe the love story and see her as a hero of the reality television world that the games play into.  Others see her move as an act of defiance against the ruling class and have put her on a pedestal as a symbol of impending revolution.  Her defiance has angered the president and he must seek a way to eliminate her.  So in Catching Fire, the annual Hunger Games has a new twist – the contestants are chosen from a pool of previous victors, including Katniss and Peeta.  They once again must fight to survive.

This exploration of a dystopian society has many layers to it, all packaged neatly in the sci fi action of The Hunger Games.  The second film of the franchise feels more solid and interesting than the previous.  The first one felt like one big set up for what was to come.  The first part of Catching Fire has somewhat of a similar feel in its establishing scenes, but once the games start, there is a lot more going on.  But still, it does feel like it never fully kicks off, but leaves the audience wanting more from the impending third film in the franchise.

The film’s plot is perpetually catching fire, but never quite gets caught.  This film series is one for binge watching as the first two efforts feel like fragments rather than whole entities.  Great and entertaining fragments, but fragments nonetheless.  I’m sure I will change my tune once I’ve read the books or the series has concluded.  In the meantime, I’m still hungry.

23 Responses to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

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