Movie Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire
Reviewed by Constance Bourg
Millions of fans have been waiting for more than eight months for the second installment of the popular book series The Hunger Games to appear on the big screen. The big question is of course: is part two as good as part one? The answer is mostly "yes", but also a little bit "no."
It takes guts to make a sequel of a successful movie like The Hunger Games. In part one director Gary Ross managed to bring the complex world of Panem to life in a very convincing way. Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence expanded on his predecessor's work and, above all, added depth to all of the characters. He was helped by screenwriters Simon Beaufoy, writer of Slumdog Millionaire, and Michael deBruyn, writer of Little Miss Sunshine.
In case you haven't read The Hunger Games or seen the first movie, it is helpful to know that Katniss Everdeen won the 74th Hunger Games in part one. The Hunger Games is a bloody game in which teens are made to slaughter each other until just one remains. In what is an extraordinary exception, Katniss won together with her fellow District 12 buddy Peeta, a boy who has been infatuated with her for many years. Their blossoming romance, which Katniss faked to increase her chances of survival, proved popular with the wealthy inhabitants of the Capitol, who were following the Hunger Games on television. Katniss and Peeta became crowd favorites.
In part two, the two reluctant victors are taken on a victory tour through the districts. The fact that the two winners are both from a poor district creates a lot of anxiety and social unrest. Many see Katniss as a symbol of rebellion against oppression. The dictatorial President Snow wants to get rid of her, so he decides with the Gamemakers that all recent Hunger Games winners must take part in an especially dangerous and deadly game.
The Hunger Games is known for addressing themes, such as celebrity culture, rich versus poor, the game of politics, and of course love. So, how you will rate the movie depends on your personal taste. If you like to see a lot of background information about the districts, this movie might not be for you. You won't find much history on the screen. There is no mention or explanation of the various backgrounds of characters, like coach Haymitch, Peeta, or President Snow. Fortunately, there is still plenty left to enjoy. The new characters are very well cast, especially Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Sam Claflin as Finnick. Jennifer Lawrence is still convincing as Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson is an even nicer Peeta than in part one. In this movie you get the feeling that you really get to know the characters so much better.
This film deserves a score of eight out of ten. The main appeal is that the characters are much more real than in the first movie. The main drawback is that fans of the books will miss the history that makes the story matter.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Cohen, Patrick St. Esprit, Meta Golding, Bruno Gunn, Alan Ritchson, E. Roger Mitchell, Maria Howell, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright
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