The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

 

The Hunger Games return to the big screen for the second instalment of the much lauded series. Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, and so do most other characters from the first movie. Based on the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the film journeys into the epic world of science fiction adventure.

 

STARRING:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Donald Sutherland
Philip Seymour Hoffman

 

DIRECTOR:
Frank Lawrence

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
22nd November, 2013

 

RUNNING TIME:
146 minutes

 

The first Hunger Games was surprisingly good, even to a largely cynical moviegoer such as me. The premise may be fanciful but was backed by some rather good work by the actors and the technical staff. I eagerly awaited the sequel. The news that Gary Ross, the director of the first movie would not direct the second one was thus, a bit of a downer.

 

I needn’t have worried though. Frank Lawrence, the replacement, has justified his selection with a fantastic effort. His previous works like Constantine and I am Legend may have hinted of potential, and this film is evidence that I was not mistaken.  Lionsgate studios helped his case considerably by nearly doubling the budget for this movie compared to the previous one.

 

The film starts off from a year after the events in the first one. On the eve of the 75th Hunger Games, a competition is devised by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) that pits previous winners against one another. Meanwhile our surviving pair from the first film, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchison) are on a state organized victory tour. Katniss finds it hard to curb her rebellious streak and elicits a reaction from the people in the Districts.

 

Her family is threatened by the President along with the possibility of a District 12 wipeout. She and Peeta hence find their way back to the ring for a far deadlier game this time around. There are a few intriguing entries to the character canon, such as Gamemaker Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Amanda Plummer and Jena Malone’s Joanna as fellow contestants. Their training is compelling to watch, if only for the intricacies of character development.

 

The games follow and are a considerable let-down in many ways. The first film had more of a head to head element about the Games, whereas this one focuses more on obstacles that must be crossed. Instead of a survivalist Battle Royale, the competitors end up going through things like blood rain, waves, thunder and electrified barriers. It is still a compelling watch, but loses out on the bloody mindedness quotient that was a feature of the first film.

 

Indeed the high point of the film is not the actual games, but rather character insight. Jennifer Lawrence is quietly imperious in her act as Katniss, and is ably backed by Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Donald Sutherland is icy as President Snow, and with Phillip Hoffman’s Plutarch lends even more quality to the performances. The soundtrack is another highlight and deserves sampling on its own.

 

Poor sequels have deflated many a franchise in the recent past, but this one is right on the money. Francis Lawrence is currently at work on the two part trilogy finale called Mockingjay and has the opportunity to cement the reputation that this film should earn him.

 

All in all, a captivating follow up to the first film.

 

 

 

 

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