The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review
As young adult adaptations go last year’s The Hunger Games was an over-whelming success, catapulting its leading lady Jennifer Lawrence into the limelight, but as the sequel Catching Fire arrives will it live up to the popularity of the original, or mark the decline of yet another teen franchise?
Often films of this nature can become stale and boring as they repeat the same dangers/problems/situations as the first film, while trying to convince their audiences it’s actually an entirely different story. Happily Catching Fire doesn’t follow this pattern and like the book expands its subject material drastically while still keeping the necessary links with the original.
Katniss may have thought her troubles were over once she’d survived The Hunger Games but in Catching Fire she soon realises that her ‘act of defiance’ has sparked the idea of revolution in the other districts, leaving more than just her own life at stake if she can’t convince them to stand down. Add to this her developing three-way romance with Gale and Petra, and the Capitol’s hero is facing more than she ever anticipated.
With a 146 minute running time it’s not a short film but action-packed it certainly is, and you’ll be hooked watching Katniss and Peeta fight for their survival yet again. From life as a Hunger Games victor, to the Quarter Quell anniversary and beyond, Catching Fire covers an impressive amount of story and does so effortlessly. By the time the credits roll not only will you be surprised where the characters have ended up, you’ll be desperate for the story to continue.
Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson make a welcome return to the screen as the together-but-not-really-together Hunger Games survivors and their complicated ‘romance’ hasn’t lost any of its audience appeal. Superbly supported by Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, as they were in the first film, we see the relationship between the four develop further with even Effie showing her hidden depths.
Catching Fire also gives us a fresh injection of new characters as the other Hunger Games victors are brought into play and fans of the books will especially enjoying watching Finnick and Johanna brought to life by Sam Claflin and Jena Malone. In addition to this we get to see much more of Donald Sutherland’s intimidating President Snow, as well as the introduction of new Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The special effects have also been amped up for the sequel with the new Hunger Games arena housing even more dangerous and disturbing trials for the contestants including tidal waves, angry apes, blood rain and more. And outside the arena the film’s costumes are just as dazzling with, Lenny Kravitz reprising his role as Katniss’ stylist Cinna who makes some interesting “adjustments” to her wedding dress.
Fast-paced, entertaining and even quite emotional at times, fans will struggle to find fault with Catching Fire (no small feat for any sequel) and the decision to follow in the path of Twilight and split the final book into two parts will be interesting to see. With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2 hitting cinemas in November 2014 and 2015 respectively, we won’t have long to find out if this franchise will end on a high, but if Catching Fire is anything to go they’ll be flocking to the cinemas to see it.