johnlink ranks THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)

I so much prefer to walk into a movie without having any idea what I’m getting into. I’ve avoided all the trailers, scanned past all articles, skipped over any interviews. I liked the first HUNGER GAMES enough to know I wanted to see the second one. Why bother having things ruined? I didn’t even know if the titular games had anything to do with the sequel. I assumed that ship had sailed. So, if you’ve been doing the same, don’t read this article. But if you’re a normal human being who doesn’t mind seeing a trailer or two, I’m sure what follows will be spoiler free.

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I watched THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013) in theaters on 11.25.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

Despite Francis Lawrence taking over the helm as director, this sequel feels very similar to its predecessor in tone, scope, and perspective. The pacing of both films begins at a slow simmer, with the politics of fictional Panem putting its poorer subjects in the outlying districts in a constant state of blandly colored despair. Their beacon of hope is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). The sequel picks up where we left off. She is newly the co-winner of the 74th HUNGER GAMES. She has a romance issue pulling her between her two men. On one side is her TV lover Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and on the other side is her seemingly true love Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

She doesn’t have time for either of them, she explains, because the pressure is too great. President Snow (a wonderfully sinister Donald Sutherland) has come all the way to District 12 just to threaten the loved ones of Katniss. He explains that she must convince the world that she loves Peeta as they embark upon their victory tour. The people are restless. They seek hope. Snow wants to stifle that hope in any way possible, though he would prefer to find some way to just kill her off.

The 75th Games are coming. They have a new designer to replace the dead one. He is Plutarch Heavensbee (Philp Seymour Hoffman) who seems to have motives of his own.

The Games themselves prove to be less important to the story than in the previous film. It is again over an hour before we get into the competition, with this batch being pulled from all previous winners (a nice excuse to get Katniss back in). These Games are different however. Something seems to be not quite right with some of the contestants.

Some of the same issues from the first movie return, though they are somewhat improved. The major issues with the first one involved Katniss not having to make tough decisions throughout the Games. In this film, Katniss does get confronted with choices on whether or not to kill people, and she seems to always make the right ones. The story, again, does feel slightly forced and convenient in its execution. My one question, upon completing the film, has to do with why the Games are so physically brutal when we learn what we do in the final moments. It seems a little too convenient that those who live do and those who don’t do not.

But that is not to take away from what turned out to be a really solid and surprisingly deep movie. The first film seemed brutal, with little kids getting murdered for sport. This one ups the ante and the despair significantly in its first act. Death happens to seemingly good people and we (and Katniss) are absolutely powerless to stop it. Katniss struggles, understandably, with  the balance of standing up and leading a rebellion when she knows doing so will result in slaughter. Jennifer Lawrence is, as we have to learn by now, more than capable of handling the heavy lifting when it comes to performance. She’s really solid in this. More surprising is just how good Woody Harrelson has turned out to be as the mentor/father-figure Haymitch. His drunkenness is offset by moments of startling stability. It’s hard to make this character more than just a caricature (as has happened with Elizabeth Banks’ Effie), but Harrelson pulls it off.

I suppose the best thing I can say about this movie is that I wanted the third one to start the moment this one ended. I didn’t want credits, I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to see more.

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 7;

7+8+8+7+0=30

FINAL SCORE: 7.5

 

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~ by johnlink00 on November 26, 2013.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)”

  1. Great review. And I quite agree!

  2. Good Review 😀

    It was a great film, really liked it a lot. Thought it was a fantastic improvement over the first, and I cannot wait for the next one, especially after that ending 😀

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