The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Directed by Francis Lawrence, 2013, U.S.
I’m a little late to the party reviewing Catching Fire, since most people who would have seen it in theaters have already seen it. But, thanks to our friends at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, I caught this one pretty recently while enjoying food and beer.
The Hunger Games (2012) was a solid popcorn movie. It achieved what it set out to achieve in adapting a popular book into a well made, popular film. Its production team also lucked out by booking Jennifer Lawrence as the lead while she was still “up and coming indie movie star” and before she subsequently became “hugely popular box office draw and movie star-movie star.” Overall, I was impressed but not terribly so.
Unlike certain hobbit related fare, the middle chapter of the Hunger Games improves on the first one by quite a bit. The themes and plot of the Hunger Games series are fairly derivative of the dystopian science fiction genre, drawing heavily from prior works such as Battle Royale and 1984. What really sets it apart are its strong characters, chiefly its lead, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence). The first film spent a lot of time on a plot, that while well executed, was not necessarily the most creative sequence of events in cinema history.
The second film is all about Katniss, and the plot allows her character some room to breathe and develop. The plot itself comes extremely close to replaying the plot of the first film (this is done intentionally as a red herring). While the first film was too fast paced to really get beyond the first line of emotions, Catching Fire really gets inside of her head and her motivations.
Overall, Catching Fire is a worthy successor to The Hunger Games, and leaves the audience wanting more. If you’re me, that means sitting down and reading the books so I don’t have to wait two years to find out what happens next.
You might like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire if: You enjoyed the first film and/or the books, or you like dystopian science fiction in general.
You might not like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire if: For the sake of consistency I’ll state the obvious: if you don’t like this series for some reason then you won’t like this movie.
(c) 2014 D. G. McCabe