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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Film review: The Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire (2013), directed by Francis Lawrence

This review contains spoilers.

At the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) had jointly won the 74th Hunger Games, much to the chagrin of Panem’s President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Catching Fire picks up some time after the previous instalment in the series.

Katniss and fake boyfriend Peeta are back in snowy District 12, but it’s fair to say both are suffering from PTSD courtesy of the Games. Living in the fancy Victors’ Village and finally having money isn’t much help. Neither is Katniss’s sort-of-boyfriend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who has had to become a miner like everyone else.

Going on the Victory Tour with mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and ditzy Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Katniss and Peeta realise that what they’ve done has ignited a rebellion in the other districts, and President Snow is far from happy. Katniss might have fooled the viewers that she and Peeta are a couple but he’s less easily duped. The so-called couple need to keep up appearances, come what may, or suffer the consequences.

Also starring Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, Paula Malcomson as Mrs Everdeen, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, Amanda Plummer as Wiress, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Lynn Cohen as Mags.

When we saw The Hunger Games I hadn’t read any of the books so I didn’t know what to expect. That posed the problem of the first film not going into enough detail, so when I read the book I just went “Ohhhhh, so that’s why” a lot of the time. Strangely, because I’ve read all three books before seeing this film, that’s a problem too. Not in the usual way, however. Normally when you’ve read the book before you see the film you’re unhappy because they haven’t done the book justice or they’ve left bits out, changed things and so on. That wasn’t my issue here, because I don’t have a detailed recollection of the book, frankly.

My issue was that I knew exactly what was going to happen, which is incredibly strange, considering it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what was going to happen when I went to see the Harry Potter films, or The Hobbit, or anything else! And yet for some reason I was disappointed because I knew exactly how it would end. That the first film would end with Katniss winning or at least surviving the 74th Hunger Games was obvious, knowing that it was based off the first book in a trilogy, but I didn’t know how or why.

On the other hand, Mr T knew what was going to happen because some things were glaringly obvious, like the fact that Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, marvellous) is a double agent, that Cinna would get into heaps of trouble for the Mockingjay dress, and that the dome could be short-circuited with lightning. Then again I’m beginning to wonder if any plot twist can surprise Mr T, as he seems to be very adept at figuring out what’s going on.

So … yeah.

Aside from the “well, absolutely nothing new under the sun here” feeling, I thought the film was well-acted (expected as much), with the odd exception; had stunning visuals (also to be expected) and it was nice to see more of Panem than just District 12, some Capitol buildings’ interiors and the train. It’s well-made and I really can’t fault it, but I’m not in love with it.

They’ve split the final book into two films (because another franchise cash cow), so hopefully they will be a bit more interesting than this.

I want to give it a 3, but I don’t think that’s fair, so I’ll say 4 out of 5 whipping posts.

Traxy

An easily distracted Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on.

4 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

  1. With the way the movie ended this time around, it’s hard to not get all amped-up for the next installments. Good review Traxy.

  2. I never knew really what the fuss about the Hunger Games was all about. It sounded depressing, and certainly not something I was expecting to see. But I did. And I did find it depressing and the whole point of the movie being pointless till I drew parallels to everyday life. The Games are like our media, trying to distract people from what is really happening, the Capital are our oblivious politicians and so on. And then the movie made sense,although seemed a lot like 1984.

    The acting was great. And visually lovely. And I was surprised to find myself looking forward to the last installment(s).

    1. Yup. One of the scary things about this film/book series is that it’s something I don’t think is impossible. It’s extreme, yes, but it feels like it really COULD happen this way. πŸ™ Odds of something like the Hunger Games ever happening are fairly high. Odds we get attacked by giant alien monsters from another dimension which we have to fight off with ginormous robots … less so. If you know what I mean? There’s another film as well which I can see happening, but of course its name has slipped my mind as I’m writing this.

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