Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jenna Malone, Sam Claflin

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language, Running time 146 minutes, Sci-Fi/Action/Adventure

Compare to: Rollerball (1975), Battle Royale (2000)

While everybody waits for the “next big thing” right around the corner, any Hunger Games promos have already found their place in pop culture, not needing to fight for anymore support than they already have. While Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments have come and gone, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has been eagerly awaited by fans since it’s first installment last year.

Does it surpass, or even live up to the first? Or is this example of another series that drops out on quality now that it’s fanbase is secure and a third is already on the way?

In a future that’s the exact inverse of Orwell’s 1984, Katniss barely made it out with her life from last year’s Hunger Games. The Games play as a sort of “kill or be killed” reality show for the rich and pretentious Capital; the most powerful city on earth that keeps 13 district, or impoverished towns under it’s boot. But since the game where Katniss made her defiance toward the Capital public, President/dictator Snow desperately searches behind the scenes for a way to rid himself of the teenage archer without causing an uprising from his “loyal” subjects.

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Whatever you do, don’t bet on granny.

Much of Catching Fire plays in the same manner as the first Hunger Games– the Capital is still around, they still don’t like Katniss, and she’s going to have to fight to survive all while she has to fake emotions for her partner in the games, nice-guy Peeta. It’s not boring, you just kind of already feel like you’ve seen it. The ultra showy “games” are always right around the corner and you’re waiting to see how it plays out.

The big difference between Fire and it’s inescapable role of “the sequel” can be found in that while being a big-budget movie with a wide audience to please, it still manages to keep telling the story that it started with.

Stormtroopers were hit the hardest in the Empire's budget cuts.

Stormtroopers were hit the hardest in the Empire’s budget cuts.

While the most recent Thor sequel seemed to think that you should cheer every time Loki smiled and made a joke, Fire just keeps on truckin’ with Katniss’ role in the depressing dystopia and how an uprising may or may not be in the cards. While fans are bound to look for whatever little character niches there are to be found in whichever scene, it’s not the focal point of the scene and that’s a major compliment to a movie that has this much riding on it.

After escaping from the terrifying grip of being “The Next Twilight,” it seems like they intend on not only keeping away from that label, but it’s hardly even a thought anymore and I only bring it up in remembering my review of the first film.

Several moments of the story are centered on the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Thor’s lil’ bro Gale (Hemsworth). Not to the extent other young adult/Sci-Fi stories have but it is there and I do find it uninteresting. When life, death, and rebellion are on the line, I guess it’s only natural that a romantic subplot would be inserted.

"Being into a relationship is so last year."

“Being into a relationship is so last year.”

Being based on a novel and following it closely is understandable and as a fan I’m sure I would want that but as a viewer it just seems frivolous. “Movies have these, and we’re a movie guys, so we will too!” My understanding is that it will play a bigger role in the third film but even then, it’s not necessary past the point of the characters being friends and allies.

Maybe if one love interest (Hemsworth) was on screen more, we could care about him more, while the other (Hutcherson) plays a bigger role but not a more interesting one. Watching him on screen in his “Will someone please let me sacrifice my life for them?!?” role makes me feel for all the women who ever watched a macho-action film and wondered why the girl didn’t do anything more than scream for the protagonist.

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“Do you mind if I tickle your hand? I’m going to tickle your hand.”

In any case, this is a better bet than “Delivery Man,” also opening today.

Grade: B

Sidenote: My MBTI homies can read Katniss’ type here.

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4 Responses to “Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

  1. Hey, great post. You’re right about the fan service. This movie *felt* like it really wanted to tell you a story. Your comparison to Thor, about doing too much stuff for the intention of getting a “woo” out of the audience, I agree with. Though I did think Thor 2 was a big step up over Thor, kind of like how Cars 2 is better than Cars. You have accepted whatever none sense they spin you the first time, so at least the second time they do it better.

    • Taylor Says:

      I need to rewatch Thor. I remember thinking that it was better than I thought it would be but that was a couple years ago.

      • The one thing that really stuck out for me during the first Thor was the slo-motion shots of Natalie Portman. I mean look, I get it. She is a super pretty lady. But the God with the Hammer should be more interesting than the Herbal Essence treatment given to the young lady.

    • Taylor Says:

      Yeah it’s kind of weird she took that role, being the actress she is and being a character that doesn’t have superpowers. I dunno, seems like a part for a lesser known actress maybe.

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