Movie Review: The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Catching Fire posterStarting just a few hours before the Victory Tour leaves we find Katniss staring out into the wold waiting for Gale. The Hunger Games Catching Fire, decides to hit the ground running this time for the sequel. Tense conversations, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) experiencing PTSD, a stolen kiss between her and Gale and an acknowledgment that things between her and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are still messy.

The pacing of Catching Fire is very different from the first Hunger Games. They don’t take the time to remind you of anything, For fans who’s read the books this won’t be an issue for those who’ve seen the first film you will also be fine but if you go in blind you will not be able to keep up. New characters are introduced in a small fleeting way. The fresh out of retirement new head gameskeeper Plutarch Heavensbee played by the always engaging Philip Seymour Hoffman gets a descent amount of an introduction. The Victors on the other had end up feeling as rushed as the parade was in the first film. Because of their larger roles Johanna Mason (Jenna Malone), Finnick (Sam Claflin), BeeTee (Jeffrey Wright), Wiress (Amanda Plummer) and Mags (Lynn Cohen) get more screen time. The other tributes are seen in short clips mostly during their interviews with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci).

Catching Fire President Snow & Plutarh

Some of the basic changes from the film are its talked about in theory but not shown the planning of Katniss and Peeta’s wedding. The skills that the victors are to have are barely on the radar. The victor tour blends together in a haze, you can’t tell which districts loved them and which were uprising. The also only show 2 reapings. I have to say though that they did a great job changing Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) from a caricature to humanizing her. When she has to reap Katniss, Elizabeth Banks pulls out all the stops in showing emotion. You can see her change from the District 1 resident who loves the Hunger Games to emotionally invested and sad because she’s grown to care deeply about Katniss and she has for the first time seen why people outside of District 1 do not like the Hunger Games at all.

Catching Fire Reaping

We get more behind the scenes motions with President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarh, but very little character development outside of Effie. Because Catching Fire doesn’t slow down there’s very little for much other that verbal comments to serve as filler. Even so once again the film clocks in at well over 2 hours but its packed. This may be why MockingJay is being split into 2 parts. Catching Fire also ends with a great cliffhanger that those who haven’t read the final book will be shocked by. I haven’t read the final book either. I do believe this is a great sequel that goes above the first film. While it does massive dumps of info in small spaces there’s never enough of a lull for you to notice if you are not familiar with the book. The Hunger Games Catching Fire also stars Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson.

My Rating: Full Price
Director: Francis Lawrence
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Run time: 2 hours 26 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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