The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

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The Donald Sutherland Beard Appreciation Society had been a success.
The Donald Sutherland Beard Appreciation Society had been a success.

Twitter Plot Summary: There’s disorder in the districts thanks to Katniss’ act of defiance in the Hunger Games. President Snow ain’t got time for that.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Thriller

Director: Francis Lawrence

Key Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Toby Jones

Five Point Summary:

1. President Snow and Katniss have a chat.
2. Lots of political upset across the districts, that much is clear.
3. Stanley Tucci’s incredibly white teeth return!
4. Let the 75th Hunger Games… begin!
5. Ooh, a tense place to end the film…

Despite planning to read the book months ahead of the film’s release, I found myself having still not started it on the Monday, and plans to see the Friday. Plugging away as and when I had time, I managed to finish the book by the Thursday. Yay me. I did a similar thing with the first film and will do it again, hopefully in a much more timely manner, when the third book is adapted for the screen. I’m glad I did as, despite knowing where the story was heading, I did have the option of both comparing it to the original text and also to consider it as a movie in its own right.

After the events of the 74th Hunger Games, all is not well in Panem. Katniss and Peeta’s act of defiance has lit a spark under the disgruntled members of the nation and uprisings are now taking place across the various districts. After each Hunger Games tournament the victors go on a tour of the other districts in what is supposed to be a display of state strength, but this time round it further sows the seeds of dissent, despite Katniss and Peeta attempting to prove to President Snow that they had no intention on starting an uprising. This of course fails and subsequently Katniss and Peeta end up in the Hunger Games once more, this time in what is known as a Quarter Quell which happens on every 25th anniversary of the games. Mixing the political angle with the games creates a much larger sense of the world the film exists in, albeit helped by the fact that most of the world building took place in the first movie.

Katniss and Peeta didn't know what to think when they discovered they were sharing a room with a monkey.
Katniss and Peeta didn’t know what to think when they discovered they were sharing a room with a monkey.

There’s a number of subplots from the book that have been excised from the film, and on the whole it’s to the benefit of the cinema audience – I’m not sure seeing a couple of the Tributes weaving a hut made out of leaves overnight would’ve helped the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Another small section of story seeing Haymitch’s win in the Hunger Games would’ve been interesting to see, but ultimately adds nothing to the central narrative. Improvements see President Snow with slightly more to do than in the novel, and seeing as he’s played by Donald Sutherland, this is a very good thing. The majority of the contenders in the games barely get any screen time, but that is no different to the book and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are that many characters flying around that to focus in any depth on more than three or four of them would be a waste of time. As it is, we get enough on the characters that matter and the rest are essentially incidental. Effie Trinket, whilst not used extensively, does at least have a small character arc that shows her slowly moving away from embracing the extravagance of The Capital.

Reading the novel helped give context to the world and the character’s motivations, but I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity to enjoy the film. Katniss is also a much more sympathetic character than in the book – most of the novel focuses too much on her confused emotional state and general sense of bewilderment. In the case of the movie, less is so very much more in this instance. Much like the first movie I’d consider this on the higher end of the scale in terms of what is acceptable for a 12A rating, any increase in blood and/or violence would definitely push it into 15 territory. It’s rare that I say this, but I’m quite happy it’s in the 12A category. If nothing else it proves that hard hitting themes and concepts can be appropriate for a slightly younger audience. I will level one complaint at Catching Fire, and that’s the ending. It feels very much like the middle section of the story and ends rather suddenly. The book does this too, so again I can’t apportion too much blame to the film makers, but even so after over 2 hours of sitting through a mostly entertaining story to end in such a way is unfortunate. I understand that the third book is the weakest of the series, so I don’t have massively high hopes for the third/fourth films. But I’ve been surprised before, hopefully this will be another example.

Favourite scene: President Snow visits Katniss in her home to discuss her options…

Quote: “Remember who the real enemy is.”

Silly Moment: Monkeys!

Score: 4/5

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great review, though I don’t share nearly enough of your enthusiasm for Catching Fire. I was terribly bored throughout the first hour (except when Donald Sutherland came in. Sutherland is a legend). I found the Quarter Quell climax to be underwhelming too (it was much more exciting for me in the book). My biggest problem with this franchise is the lack of chemistry between the three leads, but not many agree with me.

    • I think both the book and the film have their good and bad points. I enjoyed the build-up but would have preferred to see more of the world itself rather than the brief glimpses we get. I know that’s true to the book as well, but I think I’m more a fan of the world they live in rather than the characters we have to follow.

      There’s quite a bit that doesn’t work (pacing is off, not enough characterisation, and I agree that the leads lack chemistry), but it did enough to entertain me. I agree as well regarding the finale, although the very last scene, for me, worked better than the book. And Sutherland could read the phone book for all I care, the man can do no wrong.

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