Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Review: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (2013)

Movie: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Director: Francis Lawrence
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes
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After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return to their home in District 12, along with large sums of money, new houses in Victor's Village, and all of the attention that their star-crossed love story garnered them. Katniss is visited by President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who urges her to make him believe that she is actually in love with Peeta, since some of the other Districts believe their love story to be an act of defiance against the Capitol. Katniss has, unknowingly, become a symbol for rebellion in many of the Districts with just a few simply berries.

As part of their duty as winners, they must travel through each District on a Victor's Tour and distract the masses from the awful living conditions to which they have grown complacent. Upon their return to District 12, things have changed: there are more Peacekeepers, which means more public beatings, more starvation, less work, and growing unrest. President Snow believes that Katniss and the other victors pose a threat to the power of the Capitol, and with the help of new gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), they concoct a plan. As part of the Quarter Quell, the 75th Hunger Games are to be reaped on the existing pool of victors, meaning Katniss and either Peeta or Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) will be going back into the arena to fight for their lives one more time.

WOW, WOW, WOW. My like for the first "Hunger Games" movie has been eclipsed for my love of this one.

It is a $140 million dollar budget, better sets, and greater effects, and gone are the bad CGI flames, trains, and shaky camera movements.

There is much more of a meaty plot to this book and subsequent movie than the first. It doesn't just deal with kids trying to survive in a battle-royale forced upon them by their government. This movie deals much more with the idea of the revolution and uprising based on Katniss' actions inside the arena. It deals with the emotions they feel much more heavily than the first movie, what they go through mentally, physically, psychologically, and eventually, as a country that has been run-down, starved, beaten, brutalized, and kept in the dark. And we like the turn this movie takes with Katniss and the Mockingjay as symbols for the uprising against the oppressive Capitol. With lines like "remember who the real enemy is," the author of this book, as well as filmmakers, don't gloss over the whole "fighting against the government/revolting/revolution" theme...and the characters should fight back, as they have been living in despair for far too long.

Just like the first movie, there are some plot points from the book that were left out, but it seems as though "Catching Fire" follows the book extremely closely, even borrowing the majority of the lines straight from the book. I am glad that filmmakers did this, as I was expecting much of it to be a loose interpretation.

The directing job Francis Lawrence has done for this movie is superb. It's powerful when it needs to be, and he seems to get the majority of the details right. It is masterfully shot. "Catching Fire" seems much more intense than the first movie, and is far more exciting in our opinions. Again, there is a fine line between it being violent without showing too much. The scenery is gorgeous as well. The interactions between characters, especially newcomers to the series Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are still as good as ever, as well as perfectly cast.

If "Catching Fire" is any indication of where "Mockingjay" will go, we have high hopes for the third installment of "The Hunger Games" series.

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10 (+/-)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89% (+/-)
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

1 comment:

  1. Though it was a tad long, the ending had me hyped-up and ready for what's next to come. Nice review.