Reviews

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Lionsgate

Mark Haddon

The sequel to the Hunger Games may smack of second helpings, but it nonetheless remains surprisingly tasty

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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I am a big fan of the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It was always going to be a challenge to adapt the books to the big screen, but Gary Ross pulled it off brilliantly with the first part of the trilogy, The Hunger Games. So at the release of The Hunger Games - Catching Fire, the question was whether new director Francis Lawrence could deliver something of equal or better quality. Every review I had heard really sang the praises of the film and the trailer certainly whet the appetite.

 

The second film takes the us back to a Panem equally as desperate as when we left it. From the opening scene, you can feel the tension and the anxiety in every word  spoken and every movement people make. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen as wonderfully as in the first film, bringing a genuine human dimension to our main character. The more 'teen rom com' aspect of the story (the love triangle between Katniss, her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and fellow Hunger Games victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcheron)) could have been overplayed but is tastefully and maturely managed to keep both teen and adult audiences alike happy. In fact both Hunger Games films have successfully managed to repair some of the damage done by the tedious and 'overdone' Twilight series. Also, with the distopian/'1984'-esque undertones, it can only be a good thing if teenage audiences are engaged. 

 

This film introduces a lot of new faces to the tale and the casting is excellent. Philip Seymour Hoffman is perhaps one of the strongest editions to the cast; His portrayal of the new Games Maker Plutarch Heavensbee balances really well against Donald Sutherland's sinister returning character of President Snow. The interplay between then really gives a subtle but important depth to the political dimension of the plot. Back to the 'arena' though and the other tributes really do bring to life the characters as described in the novel. Sam Claflin as the charming Finnick Odair, Jena Malone as the tough and angry Johanna Mason and Jeffrey Wright's portrayal of nerdy Beetee all deserve special mention.

 

The film is really rounded off though by the Capitol characters we met in the last film. Caesar Flickerman, the public face of The Hunger Games is played superbly by Stanley Tucci a second time. The garish and excessive lifestyle of the Capitol is summed up in the way Tucci plays this high-profile character. The far reaching affects of Katniss and Peeta's actions at the end of the last Hunger Games films are really shown in the reactions of District 12 Escort, Effie Trinket as Elizabeth Banks reprises the role; The fact that the Capitol are starting to feel the pain of the Games shows how society is crumbling.

 

The second film really stands-up to, and in many ways surpasses, the impression left by the first. It is a completely engrossing 146 minutes and left me feeling both emotionally drained and anxious to see the next film. Unfortunately there is a wait until November 2014 for the third instalment, but with the final book being split in to two parts, it will be November 2015 before the cinematic portrayal of The Hunger Games Trilogy is complete. I'll just have be patient and potentially re-read the books in the meantime!

 

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Reviewed on 25/11/2013 by Angela

 

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