The first Hunger Games movie was largely successful. The first in a series of movies based on the hyper-popular book series for teenagers and young adults. Despite a lot of shaky camera action, the first movie was very entertaining. While the movie mostly worked, there was fear with the departure of the original direction, and with word the sequel was being rushed for release, there was quite a bit of trepidation the movie would fail to live up to the first.
It is great to be able to say you can completely throw that fear aside. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes everything that worked with the original and expands on it, while losing what didn't so much work from the previous film.
The movie starts shortly after the first movie left off. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are back in District 12, now champions from the previous Hunger Games tournament. While the pair professed love (fake on Katniss' part - authentic on Peeta's) for one another so both could survive the games, the two are barely speaking to one another now. The two are about to be whisked away again, this time to tour the different districts as celebrities from their win.
But before leaving, Katniss is visited by the cruel President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and is basically told that he is not buying her affection for Peeta. He knows it was all for show and is concerned their actions could spark an uprising against the Capitol.
While the pair try to convince President Snow, their efforts are futile. Uprisings begin, and a new Hunger Games tournament, known as the Quarter Quell begins. It's essentially an all-star tournament, where winners from previous tournaments are selected to face off against each other, leaving only one survivor.
What is especially interesting about this sequel is how different it works from the previous film. This tournament is not about kids facing off against one another. Many of the competitors are now adults. None of them want any part of the games, but have no say in the matter. The movie is startlingly mature and does not feel like something only geared for teens. Twilight series this definitely is not.
The acting is great all around in Catching Fire. The always excellent Jennifer Lawrence may be one of the best role models a girl could have. She is tough, smart, kind and heroic. She knows how to survive and you feel the pain when she is forced to fight to the death once again. Josh Hutcherson is great as Peeta. Woody Harrelson is at the top of his game playing their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. The introduction of Jeffrey Wright as the inventive Beetee and Sam Claflin as Finnick are also wonderful. Claflin, in fact, is probably going to be a face to watch out for. His charisma is a very welcome addition to the cast.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire works on almost every level. At it's 2 hour, 26 minute run time, the movie never drags, even though we don't get to the tournament until almost 90 minutes into the film. The movie perfectly sets up what is to come, an exhilarating story of rebellion against a society that tries to control a people using fear and suffering. There is not a dull moment in this movie and it is highly recommended. You will be dying to see what comes next, when the two-part movie version of Mockingjay hits theaters. Let's just hope it's as successful as Catching Fire truly is.
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Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:45 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:45:12 GMT
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