One of the most anticipated films of the year has finally arrived with a new director, new cast members and a throng of excited fans filling theatre seats. Does it live up to the hype or will it fall into the “let’s just move things along” middle chapter category?
When we last left The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen caused a bit of a stir in the futuristic country of Panem by finding out a way to escape the arena of the 74th annual games along with her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark.
Now, she is suffering from post traumatic stress and is being forced to leave her new house in the Victor’s Village and best friend Gale to tour the country with Peeta. But, not before she receives a visit from President Snow who tells her to push the love story with Peeta so as not to cause an uprising. Things don’t go according to plan and along with the advice of new gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the 75th annual games known as the Quarter Quell are announced as being essentially an all-star version, where all living winners are to be reaped into the game.
Still with me?
Having read the books before seeing the films, it’s hard to look at them separately and not compare the two. Luckily, new director Francis Lawrence knew this would be an issue with so many people being fans of the books. That means that all the major notes you want to be hit if you’re a book fan are hit. Not only that, but there are some terrific scenes added that flesh out the characters even more. Specifically with President Snow, who is coming to grips with the fact that his country could be taken over slowly thanks to a teenage girl.
Make no mistake about it, this is an adult film. If you are staying away because you think it only appeals to the Twilight or Harry Potter crowd, think differently because there are major themes that are touched upon and with be touched upon even more in the two movies to come. Themes like totalitarianism, rebellion, war, sacrifice, and a touch of love spread here and there. These themes were in the book and are only made to feel even more real when terrific actors and beautiful cinematography and special effects are added.
Speaking of the acting, everyone nails their role. From the veterans of the series like Jennifer Lawrence, to Josh Hutcherson, and even Elizabeth Banks. They all seem to realize their characters need to develop into real people and use this middle chapter to do it as we head to the finale. The new comers such as Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, and Sam Claflin fit in beautifully, specifically Malone who owns the role of Johanna from the first time she’s on screen.
By the time the credits role, I think people that didn’t read the books may have the feeling that the story is left unresolved, however I think that may be the point. Always leave them wanting more. That’s a popular phrase in show business and it’s popular because it works. So does Catching Fire, even more than the original despite having an inferior story.
4 out of 5 stars