The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-poster-sequel-review
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Comparable to the first film, good cast

Some repetition in plot

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire

Studio:  Color Force

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  November 11, 2013 (London)/November 22, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-jabberjay-attack-katniss-everdeen-jennifer-lawrence-review

No!!! Don’t make me play again!!!

The big gambit of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has paid off.  Both she and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) escaped the Hunger Games and were able to return to District 12.  Now, reunited with Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), she prepares for her anniversary tour and is forced by President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) to keep up the appearance that she and Peeta are a couple to prevent the rising outrage in the Districts that she inspired.  As Katniss’ name grows, President Snow realizes something will need to be done to stop a revolution, and that means a special edition of the seventy-fifth annual Hunger Games…which plan to bring back all of the favorite contestants for an all out grudge match under a new and deadly game architect named Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

hunger-games-catching-fire-sequel-katniss-everdeen-peeta-mellark-chariot-fire-costumes-jennifer-lawrence-josh-hutcherson-review

Ok Katniss…let’s give President Snow our best “so pissed off at you” faces!

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire is the follow-up sequel to the hit movie The Hunger Games from 2012.  The movie adapts the 2009 novel by Suzanne Collins and switches directors from Gary Ross.  It was released to large praise and huge box office numbers.

I really enjoyed the first Hunger Games and didn’t really mind the “shakey camera” aspect of it because it felt more real than one of those found footage movies.  I also had read part of Catching Fire and found it to be a bit of a snoozer…fortunately, the movie is a good follow-up.

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-katniss-everdeen-and-peeta-mellark-kiss-jennifer-lawrence-josh-hutchenson-review

Oh Peeta! My somewhat boyfriend Gale is going to be so-maybe angry!

The plot for this movie is much more complex than the original Hunger Games which was all about emotion and the danger.  Here, emotion, danger, and a fun government conspiracy load the script with a love story which feels improved from the books.  I never liked the love story aspect of the first book and movie.  It felt like the horrible Twilight rehash with the “good guy” and the “bad-good guy” both vying for the heart of the girl…here, it does get more complex with     having to pretend she loves Peeta for the camera.  Her character is so strong willed that I don’t know that she’d really “fall” for Peeta while acting, but it works for the film.

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-killer-fog-poison-boils-scene-jennifer-lawrence-katniss-everdeen-review

Now if pirates or monsters come out of this fog or mist, we’ve just made a genre jump!

The government stuff is more interesting.  There is a slow movement for overthrowing the government moving among the people and it is also nice to try to figure out how the government was established (with the Districts), and how it functions.  I don’t think having a whole bunch of pissed-off contestants who the people like killing each other is a good idea to inspire loyalty (even worse than the kids of The Hunger Games killing each other), but that also is explained a bit at the end.

*****Spoiler Alert***** One thing that hinders Catching Fire is the set up.  It takes way too long to get to the Hunger Games again…and as a viewer, you know it is coming so you know you’ll have to sit through another kill fest eventually after the plot reaches there.  With not much action for the first hour and a half, the movie turns into an action movie quickly and the last fifteen minutes have a bit of confusing action overload…followed by more of a set-up for Mockingjay—Part 1 rather than an ending.

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-katniss-everdeen-and-peeta-mellark-raised-hand-three-fingers-effie-trinket-elizabeth-banks-jennifer-lawrence-josh-hutcherson-review

Could you wait until the end of my speech before doing your whole little act of defiance?

The cast of the The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire continues to be stellar.  Jennifer Lawrence is great and both Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth develop more.  I think Woody Harrelson is also growing into his role as Haymitch Abernathy along with the outlandishly dressed Effie Trinket played by Elizabeth Banks who gets to act a bit more.  Donald Sutherland has already proven himself as a creepy bad guy in multiple movies, but the movie also benefits from not having to just have kids.  I have always enjoyed Amanda Plummer (too bad her role is “short”) and Jeffrey Wright is also good (I kind of expected him to be a surprise villain).  I really liked Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason…both of which are are set up as the “easy to hate” characters who turn out interesting.  I also commend Lynn Cohen as Mags who is very good and expressive without dialogue and being carried most of the film.  It also was obvious where Lenny Kravitz’s Cinna was going to end up.

hunger-games-2-catching-fire-mandrills-monkeys-baboons-attack-review

Ok Mr. Mandrill…you’re saying you don’t want us in your fake jungle?

Visually, there is a change in this movie with the above mentioned style change, but it doesn’t change the movie much.  I do like that the environment is different in this movie and that we get to see more of the over-the-top Clockwork Orange/Buck Rogers styled costumes of the capital city.  The movie also makes some good use of the creepy mandrill attack and the boils fog, but I wish we had seen the blood rain.

I can’t decide if I liked this film more or less or the same.  There is some redundancy in the movie with a return to “the Hunger Games”, but the script does a good job trying to make it feel original and different.  The movie does leave you hanging and a bit empty so you want the sequel soon.  The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire is followed by The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay—Part 1 in 2014.

Related Links:

The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay—Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay—Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games—Book 1

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response