The Hunger Games: Catching Fire scored a perfect 5 in the Boar’s official film review, but how did it hold up for the rest of the team?
Jennifer Lawrence is the reason I watched this film and the reason it’s a success. She has the kind of face that would land her the starring role in a Bergman movie, able to reach a level of complexity the average actor could only express with a Shakespearian monologue. She is utterly convincing as the reluctant icon of the struggling proletariat, and I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire movie. Admittedly I am not a huge fan of The Hunger Games franchise, but the sequel shows its not just a cheap rip-off of Battle Royale, but an smart exploration into contemporary culture’s obsession with celebrity and the ways in which propaganda and force are used to maintain both ideological and literal domination over the masses. It’s a neat way of explaining totalitarianism and realpolitik to kids. In addition to the heavier themes, there is a scene in a lift which is totally worth the ticket price. Just watch Josh Hutcherson’s face, his reaction is priceless.
Catching Fire is my favourite book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I was incredibly excited to see it translated to the big screen. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie, a new director and a bumped up budget promised a more spectacular show for the saga, and boy, did it deliver. With the special effects and CGI taken to the next level, the cinematics of Catching Fire are astounding. Everything from the vibrant colours of the Capitol, to the monochrome miners in District 12 is brought to life with tremendous attention to detail. We also lose the little-loved shaky camera from The Hunger Games, a move which was met with approval from seasick moviegoers everywhere.
The acting in the first film was fabulous, and whilst it isn’t necessarily better in the second instalment, the directing accentuates it well. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the lead role of Katniss Everdeen, flexes her Oscar-winning acting in her heart-breaking portrayal of Katniss’ post-traumatic stress disorder. Lawrence has proved time and again that she is an incredible actress, but her ability to tell Katniss’ inner monologue through expression and body language alone is a shining example of her strength as an actress. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) steps further into centre-stage in Catching Fire, and he does a fabulous job of playing the calm, level-headed and determined victor. However, the most impressive performance for me came from Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket). Considering that her character wasn’t even named in the first film, Banks still shows us the transition from oblivious Capitol spectator to a human who is beginning to understand the true consequences of the games. She makes us fall in love and feel for Effie, despite her frivolity and vanity, and presents the character as true to the book as it is possible to do.
Most cinema-goers will know the story of Catching Fire – it’s one of the downsides of book-to-film adaptations. However, this film makes the story feel new, raw, and exciting, and is a massive step up from the original, which was met with fabulous reviews in spite of its flaws. So even if the second book wasn’t your favourite, head down to the cinema and grab yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.
Catching Fire, the sequel to the phenomenon that is the Hunger Games, is the most gritty and emotionally-intelligent film I’ve seen at a cinema this year. Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen and her performance continues to impress. You feel every nuance of her emotional shifts; whether it is the trauma of her past experiences in the hunger games, her forced media pseudonym or her emotional struggles for her loved ones, Lawrence well and truly stamps over the contemporary Hollywood affliction of, what I’m calling, ‘Bella Swan syndrome’.
The opening half of the film is a political dystopia that devotes time to establishing the increasing severity of the Capital’s totalitarianism. The bleak and, at times, invasive cinematography creates a suitably grim aesthetic. It is a bold move for such a popular film series to devote time for character exploration. This time allows audiences to better understand the complicated nature of Katniss’ relationship to her respective love interests, Gale and Peeta, in ways that the first film did not allow time for.
Although, the books may have initially been marketed toward teens it is clear that director, Francis Lawrence, is determined to show to audiences that this series is not just light-action entertainment. This is a film series with something to say about just how far oppressed groups can tolerate a regime of oppression from the wealthy and the ignorant. What Catching Fire does so well is to capture those moments of insurgence and play it out through some very emotional and morally-challenging stakes.
Catching Fire has been the very, very long-awaited sequel to smash-hit The Hunger Games, and I am happy to inform you that the wait for almost two years was certainly worth it. Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen with even more vivacity and passion, if possible, than in the first film, with the love triangle between her, Peeta and Gale heightened to frustrating extremes. Despite the off-putting length of the movie (146 minutes) Francis Lawrence in fact provides a seamless and fast-moving production with never a dull moment, and the dramatic events are highlighted by a climactic soundtrack featuring artists such as Coldplay and Imagine Dragons. The movie was action-packed from beginning to end and the tension of the cliff-hanger actually left me exhausted as I left the cinema, pondering what on earth could happen in the third film, and taking me a significant amount of time to come back down to earth after being sucked into the dystopian world of the Capitol. Please don’t make us wait too long for the next one, Lionsgate!