‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Movie Review – Rare Repeat
Actions have consequences. Even the most mundane actions can come back to mean something. While Katniss’ actions in The Hunger Games, then again in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, are anything but mundane, they still have unintended consequences. Rather than running away from the aftereffects, she (because of the great story created by Suzanne Collins) must deal with these problems to ultimately change the world. Francis Lawrence’s (I Am Legend) adaptation gets rid of some of things wrong (however small) with the original and creates a much more thematically-rich story that reminds us why “big story” storytelling can still work.
Catching Fire takes place shortly after the aforementioned prequel. (If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you have at least seen the original). The new story can be summed up as dealing with the fallout from the climactic end to the 74th Hunger Games where the Capitol and gamemaker, Seneca Crane, had to make an odd alteration to the barbaric games.
Catching Fire essentially shows the consequences of Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) actions that put her, her family, and the entire Panem population at risk.
While I hesitate to use The Dark Knight as a comparison, I can’t help myself. Part of what makes The Dark Knight work so well is that it doesn’t have the clunky origin story, unnecessary exposition, and etc. However, that doesn’t mean all sequels are free to do what they want. On the contrary, actually, because when sequels aren’t planned, they usually need some absurd story to make the movie even conceivable. In some ways, Catching Fire can be compared to The Dark Knight because it doesn’t fall into the “sequel trap,” and is allowed to breathe on its own.
Suzanne Collins, the author of the entire ‘The Hunger Games’ book trilogy, deserves a lot of the credit for the sequel’s success. The movie is a pretty spot-on adaptation, and hopefully we’re passed the point of needing a movie to be 100% accurate anyway. The most important part is that it flushes out all the themes that pop up during the acclaimed second book.
While Catching Fire is still a little heavy-handed on their use of the word “hope,” they also show sacrifice, cooperation, courage, loyalty, and all of the above. The beautiful part is that different audience members can take something different away from the movie.
For me, the political corruption and propaganda parts work the best. Since Katniss becomes this beacon for hope – or the symbol all the commoners can stand behind – she unintentionally sparks a political and social movement that is unmatched when compared to other stories, regardless of genre.
Lawrence turns in a better performance this time around, too, simply because her character has more personality. There’s nothing wrong with her performance in The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire allows us to see deeper into Katniss’ soul and her problems. Some issues are less interesting, in my opinion (ahem…the love triangle), but they have to fill the seats with tweens somehow, right?
I want to go deeper into Katniss’ character, though, because not only is she a strong symbol for sticking up for what you believe in, but we can finally rejoice at the sight of a strong female protagonist. This certainly isn’t anything new to people who have read the books, but it’s still worth mentioning, especially since I just mentioned the tweens that flock movies like this.
There is so much to say about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and most things, if not every single thing, can be construed as good. In a time of overdone sequels, oversappy love stories, and cliché-riden plots, Catching Fire truly does go above and beyond. If you are stretching the movie to find something “wrong,” then it’s time to step back and smell the roses: The Hunger Games franchise is a force to be reckoned with, and in no way is that a bad thing.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is available in wide release all over the country. Check your local listings for both regular and IMAX screenings.
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