Catching Fire – film review

"Catching Fire" theatrical teaser poster.
“Catching Fire” theatrical teaser poster.
Some people weren’t fans of the first adaption of The Hunger Games, but I rather liked it. Going into the second movie, Catching Fire, I didn’t have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Katniss and Peeta have won the 74th Hunger Games, so they should be enjoying the life of the victorious. Instead, Katniss’ act has made Peeta bitter and hurt, while Katniss’ true love, Gale, grows increasingly distant and jealous over the act Katniss has to keep up with Peeta every time the cameras are on them—an act that she has to keep up or President Snow will kill her family. Then the rug is completely pulled out from under everyone in District 12 when it is announced that two victors from previous Hunger Games from every district will compete in the 75th anniversary spectacular.

This time around Haymitch is actually more useful and less besotted, though he still makes time for the sauce when he can. Peeta volunteered for him which makes him thankful, but there seems to be something else under the surface that is motivating him to see them—especially Katniss—survive. Katniss and Peeta try to align themselves with other victors against the deadly Districts 1 and 2 to give them an edge in the games.

The victors are quirky and delightfully bent characters like the elderly Mags who doesn’t talk but has excellent survival skills, the flamboyantly beautiful Finnick Odair who uses his beauty politically, but has a mind to match, and the brilliant Wiress whose specialty is electricity. Unfortunately for District 12, Katniss is everybody’s favorite to take down and making alliances doesn’t come easy.

Meanwhile, a rebellion is brewing, spurred by Katniss’ defiance at the 74th games. The powers that be hope to make an example of Katniss while snuffing out the rebellion, as she tries to survive with Peeta in the most dangerous games yet. Fortunately for Katniss, she has strong allies, the rebellion on her side, and Peeta’s devotion—a devotion that causes Katniss to wonder more than once if her act of love is truly an act after all.

One of the strengths of this installment in the series is the sumptuous production quality. The costumes on all the characters, especially in Capital City, are ornate and stunning. The sets are just close enough to our reality to be relatable, but fantastical enough to leave us with wonder. There is also the tension from romance, political intrigue, and the gritty survival theater of the Hunger Games. Catching Fire was a quality production and fans of the book should be very pleased.

As usual, some plot elements are altered to make room for an almost two and a half hour movie, but as a fan of the books, I didn’t mind the changes and felt the movie worked quite well. Jennifer Lawrence was good in the role and more than just a pretty face. Although there weren’t any scenes as powerful for her talents as the death of Rue, Lawrence brought a lot emotion to key scenes to help the audience believe in what they were watching. With a strong supporting cast, Catching Fire was a well done movie, and I recommend it.

Release Date: November 22, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 75%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (social drinking at parties and dinners)
Language: 3 (deity, TV swears, an s-word, and the f-word is mouthed but not heard)
Nudity: 2 (Johanna shocks Katniss by stripping down in front of her. We see a bare back.)
Sexuality: 2 (smooching and vague references to more)
Violence: 4 (brutal violence; death by arrow, poison gas, government brutality, monkey and more)


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