Hunger Games: Catching Fire Movie Review

I know how it feels when your mentor (in this case Haymitch)suddenly tells you, “You never get off this train. From now on your job is to be a distraction.” It feels very very sad.

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON…

Catching Fire goes much deeper into the Hunger Games world, and shows the uprising which Katniss’ act in the first film has resulted in. This time round, there are tougher challenges which Katniss and Peeta have to face in the arena, which have been successfully executed. From a mysterious fog, to raging monkeys, the film manages to bring out the tensions present underneath. Despite removing several parts from the novel, it looks like the film has still to managed to bring out the core themes and ideas which define the book, and not missed out any fundamental points, in order to fit a really thick novel into a 2.5hrs film.

Let’s just jump straight into the arena first. Unlike the first film, which seems more like a killing spree for everyone with little outside obstacles, the Quarter Quell, apart from having past victors compete with one another, instead introduce a lot of obstacles and trouble which make Katniss and team be regularly on the move. However, I find the first film’s arena being better- to bring across what the Hunger Games serves to bring, the violence and brutality of children/teens fighting against one another in an arena, this film instead makes it feel like a obstacle course, where one has to get through all the way to the end of it, with lots of allies. The main highlight of teens VS teens have been reduced to a minimum, but still, I can’t deny that the difficulty of the arena have been raised a few notches.

Gale is as angry as always. Maybe at Peeta for falling in love with his G-friend/ "future" wife
Gale is as angry as always. Maybe at Peeta for falling in love with his G-friend/ “future” wife

Before that, we have the victory tour, and the preparation for the games. Katniss and Peeta are supposed to go to all the districts to have a speech to the citizens, which is secretly a mean to piss the various districts off (seriously, who would want to listen to your made-up speech when their district lost and won’t get anything from you winning?). Things are really serious at this juncture, as President Snow has already threatened Katniss. Effie isn’t gone yet, and has yet again changed her style, which continues proving that fashion does not get out of ideas if people were to embrace these weird ideas. In order to make the film better, it is noted that the script has also been changed to facilitate the flow of the film, and to keep it short and sweet. Afterwards, home sweet home it is, and the most intriguing thing which still questions me (yes, I have not finished the book) is the act directly before Gale is whipped-the new peacekeepers were like rummaging through the district. Also, no clear reasons were given to why they even came when there was less of a rebellion in that district (another thing is- how does a person from the Capitol not know Katniss, the girl on fire?). Suddenly, things flow really quickly, and it is quickly evident that Katniss has to make a hard choice between Peeta and Gale.

Doesn't it look like Finnick is quickly falling for Katniss either?
Doesn’t it look like Finnick is quickly falling for Katniss either?

I realize the love triangle issue is still not resolved well. Throughout the film, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is given very little screen time, which makes the love issue more confusing, and make Liam’s role in the film seem redundant and unwanted. It is really getting the audience to fall for Peeta and Katniss’ relationship, and totally not understand or despise Gale coming into the picture. Perhaps more screen time is necessary for him, to emphasize their relationships. Also, Katniss isn’t really portraying who she is really falling in love in well. Every moment, I question who she loves (really, who?).

It would be hilarious if Effie was the one that got picked as tribute... and is forced to wear all those cosmetics into the games.
It would be hilarious if Effie was the one that got picked as tribute… and is forced to wear all those cosmetics into the games.

Suddenly, the games befall and the Quarter Quell calls for previous victors to participate in the games. Until one question arrives- if the existing victors do not consist of a particular gender, who will they pick? I guess we will never get that answer, but it is worth noting. Katniss, being the sole female victor of District 12, is forced to participate, while Peeta volunteers over Haymitch, most likely because he wants to protect Katniss like always. Then, things start to get a little like last year, where the process once again fails to distinguish itself from the first film’s pre-Hunger Games period. Suddenly, some things got missed out (the odds of winning?), and Katniss’ private session with the game makers seems confusing (how would I know what she is doing if I did not watch the first film? And how did she come to that conclusion?) Afterwards, the games officially begin.

Jennifer Lawrence definitely brings lots of life to the character of Katniss Everdeen, and she once again excels in her character (I have no idea why, but I feel that her acting here is better than in Silver Linings Playbook). I can’t deny that Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) also did a rather good job here. However, the one attention grabber in the cast that always delivers, even from the first film, is definitely Stanley Tucci, who plays Caesar Flickerman, who always brings my gaze to him. He definitely makes for a good talk show host in reality.

With the raised budget for the film, everything seems better- well executed set pieces, more interesting and diverse costumes, and better CGI. The Capitol is once again praised for it’s never-ending range of costumes, make-ups and cosmetics, which definitely allows the Capitol to be prominently distinct in culture.

The film has definitely successfully created a universe which I definitely will follow for years. Francis Lawrence definitely does a better job bringing out the emotions and themes of the second film, compared to Gary Ross, and hopefully that brings about a good sign for the next two films of the franchise. He makes the book’s adaptation become a heart-pounding, jaw-dropping film which carries surprises at every corner, for first time moviegoers who have entered the world of Panem. The book to film transition is sleek, and many comparisons can be pointed out, but I feel that this film is a good representation of the book. I can’t deny that the themes are brought out successfully, and don’t fail to ring a bell in me over the unfairness and brutality of this whole universe the film is set in.

What legacy the first film successfully started, continues here once again in the sequel to the hit Hunger Games. Box office has not been a problem- the second film is currently holding up well, even being less front-loaded than what a YA novel’s sequel is perceived to be. So may the odds be forever in this film’s favor.

And that is all for now.

SCORE: 80/100
Good YA adaptation, but some additions previously not in the book are bizarre. Good acting throughout, and definitely enjoyable.

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