You can read my review of The Hunger Games here and no, I still haven’t read the books….
Being touted as the movie the world has been waiting for is a double-edged sword. I always wonder if the Directors, writers et al cringe or revel in those words. Sure, the Hunger Games franchise has it’s ready-made audience of book fans and/or fans of the first movie, but as any producer will tell you, that’s not enough to sustain a sequel. So as I watched the many months long build up to this movie’s release, I promised myself that I would ignore the hype.
Catching Fire picks up not long after the return of the Games’ victors Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutcherson) to their district. They are preparing for their Victory Tour with the haunting resignation that permeates every aspect of these people’s lives. It is simply another thing that must be endured to survive just a little longer. Katniss, her mother (Malcomson) and sister Primrose (Shields) now live in a small estate just outside their district 12 shanty town called the Victor’s Village. I chuckled at the bleak irony.
Katniss is out hunting with Gale (Hemsworth), who has amped up the broodiness to Brando-esque levels, and it is here we first witness her torment from the Game’s experience. When she returns home, the scarily evil President Snow (Sutherland) is waiting to try to destroy her fire and spirit yet again. She has ignited a spark of hope….real, true, tangible hope …. in the people of the districts, hope that he and his Capitol cronies have long tried to stamp out.
Katniss and Peeta embark on the Victory Tour and it becomes clear just how profound their impact has been. The people of the districts are showing their support more boldly and are being publicly flogged or executed for their actions. Katniss and Peeta are horrified and attempts to stage manage the tour are unsuccessful. By the time they finish the tour and are allowed to return home, the die has been cast. The reaping for the next Games, the special 75th Games Quarter Quell will come from remaining Games Victors.
The tributes for these Games are a mixture of the young and fit such as Finnick (Claflin) and Johanna (Malone), the clever and cunning like Beetee (Wright) and Wiress (Plummer) and those who are there simply because they won at some stage in their past. The announcement of the tributes provides a few laughs. Actually, there are a few darkly comic moments in this movie. Unexpected but very welcome.
Needless to say, the tributes are trained and trotted out to the public as always. But this time, they are all experienced and so the staging of the games is vastly different. It is more dangerous and far deadlier and rather than the tributes fighting each other, they must also contend with their environment.
Okay so no more from me about the plot as I dont want to spoil it for anyone.
Catching Fire surpassed all my expectations. It fleshes out the characters and gives us a little more insight into the lives of those in district 12. This movie is not so much about the Games but about those who compete and why. We see more of the machinations in the Capitol regarding the subjugation of the people.
We also witness the depravity of the Capitals inhabitants. One example is at a party Peeta is offered food which he denies as he is full. He is incredulous when then offered a liquid so he may purge and continue eating. How else is he to try everything (food)? This line is uttered without a hint of irony or shame. Yet another dig at our own western society….. yes I think so too.
The games themselves are a marvel of ingenious evil. The book’s author, Suzanne Collins, must have quite the imagination and kudos to her. It takes all kinds of clever to come up with stuff like this. I am impressed.
The perfect mix of drama, intrigue, courage, guts, love, human spirit and human suffering combined with the by now well-loved protagonists ensures you will be left wanting more. And more.
As I stated at the very start, I have not read the books. But I will be reading them now. To describe the movie’s final scene as a cliffhanger is to completely undervalue it’s impact. I was stunned and literally slumped back in my seat, feeling as if someone had knocked the breath from me. I didnt see it coming and judging by the howls of outrage neither did anyone else who had not read the book. There were 2 distinct groups of people in my screening…..those who had read the book and those who had not. Those of who had not were easily identified by our shocked expressions as sat wordlessly staring at the screen while the rest of the audience broke into applause.
Oh but I WILL be finding the copy of that book that lives somewhere in my home. No way I can wait another year. Nope…..not a chance.
Love Flick xx
Director : Francis Lawrence
Starring : Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone, Toby Jones, Lynn Cohen, Sam Claflin
Running Time : 146 minutes
Release Date : November 21, 2013