Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victors Tour” of the districts. Along the way, Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.
The idea of a post apocalyptic world where reality TV is kids randomly selected to fight to death is completely absurd, but on screen it is surprisingly engaging. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is the second installment of four films being released under the title.
I found the plot to be almost the same as the first with the added advantage of already knowing the characters and their relationships. It felt as though the emphasis was put on Katniss’s live life and her tedious love triangle worries. Well, that’s what you get for faking love to cheat death; it just seems like nostalgia to other love triangle based films and you;re almost certain you know who she’ll end up with.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is a strong character with depth and hidden emotion. Lawrence performed well and I never doubted her character. She is consistent and never misses a beat; when she’s hurting, you feel her pain. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is good as well, although, his performance at times seems rehearsed. This doesn’t take away from what is happening on screen, it just disconnects the audience ever so slightly. Overall, he works well with Lawrence and they share a great chemistry. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is that of a minor character it seems. I’m unsure whether or not scenes with the actor had been cut out, but there needed to be a little more of Gale and his relationship with Katniss. It felt as though he wasn’t in much of the film to create a distance from Katniss and it just didn’t sit right.
I must mention the visual style, and forgive me if I get too technical. CATCHING FIRE has an entirely different feel in comparison to the first film as the grade in the districts is slightly grey which, in turn, displays a dull life lead by those living in poverty. Even the playing ground for the arena seems a touch lifeless compared to the first. This was a great choice as the battle ground is a place where innocent people doe for the entertainment of the rich. It worked really well.
There seems to be more thought with the costumes as well. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) still looks as ridiculous as ever, but her eccentric personality and genuinely heartfelt moments outshines her crazy dresses and hideous wigs. The security guards who are dressed in white suits look like modern day Storm Troopers. I like the idea of having the contestants dressed in the same uniform as it shows equality and they all have something in common.
At times the film did seem lengthy and there definitely could have been a sharper knife in the editing room. There were some scenes during the second act that could have been cut all together and wouldn’t have affected the films progression in the slightest. Sometimes I felt some characters could be cut, however they probably pose as an important person in the next film. The structure of the film felt a little odd, but I put that down to being a sequel with another two films yet to come.
Director Francis Lawrence (I AM LEGEND) has done a great job at taking over directing from the first and I am excited for what he has to offer with the next two films in the saga. For THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE I am giving 7 out of 10 stars.