Monday, November 25, 2013

Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson.
Directed by Francis Lawrence.

I wasn't too keen on watching this second installment of The Hunger Games but amidst all the hype, I decided to go ahead and watch it and I'm glad I did.

Welcome to the 75th Annual Hunger Games!

Catching Fire picks up right after the first film. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) are now Capitol celebrities, but President Snow (Donald Sutherland) fears the Districts will seek to rebel against the Capitol inspired by Katniss defiance. Every 25 years, a Quarter Quell takes place where a new rule is added to the games. In this case and also a way to possibly eliminate Katniss, the new rule states that the new contestants would be past victors -- so poor Peeta and Katniss are thrown back into hell.

Catching Fire was an overall improvement after a somewhat disappointing first installment. This film features superb acting, as did the first movie, and is driven so impressively by Jennifer Lawrence. She is defiant, a bad-ass but she did break down a few times. This movie carries even more emotional weight than the first, and there were times I wanted to cry alongside Katniss, Peeta and others. It touched me.

Every character is perfect for their roles and worked so well with each other. The Capitol puppets such as Caesar (Stanley Tucci) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks) capture every scene they are in and provide a ton of humor. As impressive as the whole cast was, the character I really impressed with was Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and her crazy outbursts. Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman also played well together as the menacing duo.

Poor Peeta. His life is already in jeopardy, while at the same time has to deal with being friendzoned by Katniss. Both characters, along with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) reminded me of "Edward, Jacob and Bella" saga as they struggle to deal with their situation and their feelings for each other.

I was thoroughly entertained in Catching Fire, there was never a dull moment for me. The story is very easy to follow, like the first film . It goes a little deeper with social commentary highlighting dictatorship, the need for control while also stressing hope for the underprivileged. When the Games kicked off, it becomes a thrilling fight for survival. There isn't a ton of action sequences but the ones present are so mesmerizing -- a few amazing shots were in this movie. Director Francis Lawrence creates this dark and impending doom mood to go along with a much stronger screenplay and lovely cinematography.

The problems I had with the first movie were improved on. No distracting shaky cam to upset my soul in the action scenes and the last act of the film did not feel anti-climatic, thanks to a great plot twist at the end -- which made every prior suspicion, concern and action fall into place perfectly. I think this sequel was a great setup for the next movie in the franchise and I can't wait to watch it!

Rating: 8.5/10


  1. Good review Shawna. Not as good as the first, but still the type of movie that keeps the story moving at a fine pace, as well as creating more characters and subplots to smash into one another.

    1. Thanks Dan! I thought this was a solid improvement on the first

  2. I couldn't possibly get into the romance angle, because of the wooden performances by Hutcherson and Henderson. Also, I was so disappointed with the Quarter Quell. I'm not usually one to talk about the costumes, but to me they were by far the greatest aspect of the film! Most people agree with you though Shawna. I nearly lost a friend because of my distaste towards Catching Fire! haha