The second instalment in The Hunger Games franchise, Catching Fire, does almost everything right, it is grittier, much more tense and doesn’t feel like a repeat of the first film. A lackluster ending that doesn’t provide much of a resolution at all is what keeps this film back from being one of the stand out films of 2013.
Jennifer Lawrence, now Hollywood’s sweetheart, inhabits the character of Katniss Everdeen, the incredibly courageous and unpredictable heroine, but one that is completely dependable. Lawrence is what draws the attention on screen, the way that she evokes the emotion, not just from the character, but also the audience, is quite stunning. Through conversations with her family to fighting for her life in the games, Lawrence never lets up the feeling of caution, showing us that trusting someone in this world could get you hurt, but being alone will get you killed. Joined by some very well acted supporting characters, by the likes of Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), this film will not leave you empty handed. What this film does to set it apart from its predecessor is that it does not focus on the games as the first one did, but rather focus on the aftermath of the games and the resistance to authority that the people in the districts have towards the Capital, an over powerful, greedy governmental organisation. With Katniss being the figure of the rebellion, it provides for an extremely rewarding face off between both Lawrence and President Snow, or rather the capital as a whole. Even when the games arrive, it is a completely different experience from the first, from running away from poisonous fog to fighting off blood thirsty baboons, Catching Fire never lets the tension settle. Before seeing this film, I will admit, I did have the expectation that Catching Fire was going to have an incredibly familiar feel to it, but the fact that they repeated the same event as the first movie whilst still making it feel fresh and interesting is quite an achievement.
Director Francis Lawrence, who also directed I am Legend, has done a fantastic job with this film, in particularly the structure. The bold move to have the games appear in the 2nd hour of the movie pays off allowing for the much needed character development and motivation to occur. The audience is already with Katniss towards the rebellion, but writers Michael Arndt and Simon Beaufoy have shown through the intense scenes of the oppression towards protesters that the main objective is for Katniss to prove to herself that there is no other way than the rebellion. In talking about the structure of the film, the ending needs to be commented on as this was the only part of the movie which I disliked. The lack of a resolution left me feeling cheated, I do realise that it is a ‘middle movie’, a film that is in the middle of a trilogy, and I do realise that they need to make it open-ended for the final instalment of the series, but surely there is a point where you give the audience a slight line of relief. This point bothered me a lot, mainly because it was the last thing in the film and hence was the main thing that I was thinking about after I stopped watching. In saying this, the film is excellent nonetheless, movies with a truly influential and inspiring female protagonist come in rare form in modern day cinema, and one that is done so well is even more rare. Catching Fire is a great film, Lawrence is absolutely perfect playing the lead, showing us a different side to the story through her subtle emotions. This is what makes this film so great, as the actors within it make the characters feel so realistic by providing such a personal and emotion devotion to them. With such a good script and an excellent structure for the majority of the film, Catching Fire is the ultimate package.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a great movie, not a complete stand out, but still a great movie. It is rare that a movie that is aimed at teens is so dark and tense that it allows for the audience to be interspersed with adults. Jennifer Lawrence is what will make you come to see this film, but the excellent story and the emotional acting is what will make you stay.
I give this film 8.5/10.