I missed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie when it hit theaters last year and I thought, with Mockingjay Part 1 coming out this week, that I should get caught up. I thought for sure it would be just a rehash of the first movie and there was some of that but in general, Catching Fire impressed me and I enjoyed it. I thought it improved over the first film.
Jennifer Lawrence is back as the symbol of revolution Katniss Everdeen along with Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, and Donald Sutherland as the evil President Snow.
The plot in general is that President Snow is ticked off that the people love Katniss more than himself or the Capitol. He wants to kill her and is talked into a special Hunger Games called the Quarter Quell. The reaping is done with the names of past victors and since Katniss is the only living female victor in District 12 she got the short straw. Peeta volunteers after Haymitch is picked for the male draw.
The scenes leading up to the new game was a rehash of the first movie with a plot twist here and there. We get to meet the new gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and he has designed a more complex game arena.
Although there were similar beats in the game scenes as the first movie, I was glad they didn’t spend all their time on the game because who won or lost, just like in the first movie, was irrelevant for the overall plot of the series.
The first movie just hints at the coming rebellion but Catching Fire hits you over the head with it and at times some of the scenes seemed forced and overdramatic.
One such scene is when Katniss meets Finnick Odair, played by Sam Claflin, for the first time. I got that we aren’t suppose to like Odair but Katniss acted like she had known him for some time and disliked him. Either there was an earlier scene I missed or the screenwriters just skimmed over this part but I didn’t buy Katniss’ negative feelings so soon. Also Finnick’s story line wasn’t difficult to figure out before it happened. I had to remind myself that the source material was a Young Adult novel so it can’t be too complex or layered.
The new characters like Finnick and Johanna Mason, who is played by Jena Malone, weren’t one dimensional. I was glad the film spent time setting up their characters. One scene I liked was when Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch are riding the elevator back their rooms and Johanna joins them and proceeds to strip off her costume until she was completely naked. It setup how out of control Johanna is in the film and I laughed as Katniss rolled her eyes while the boys grinned ear to ear. Well Peeta looked more bewildered but Haymitch loved the show.
It was also good to see that Woody Harrelson’s wig didn’t look as fake as it did in the first film.
I haven’t read the books and except for the first scene between Katniss and Finnick, it didn’t seem like a problem to figure out what was going on if you hadn’t read the books.
Catching Fire turned out to better than the first movie in my view and I hope the remaining movies continue the build up.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Official Theatrical Trailer (2013)
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