The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the hunger games Catching FireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 4/5 – This is going to be a review for a much anticipated sequel.  I came into this film with having a basic backdrop of what to expect from a sequel.  A sequel has to do a few things:

Build upon the original

Add more drama, flavor and story

This film does both these things, and does it well, through a very subtle but amazing fashion.  The tension, dialogue and brevity of the situations in this film that develop helps create a bigger scope of the whole situation in Panem, as well as what to expect from the later films.  In all, this is a film that will appeal to the fans of the novels and of great entertainment.  With some minor conveniences, you will thoroughly enjoy The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Premise: A continuation of ‘The Hunger Games’ story, Katniss actions began to ripple through all the districts, as she becomes a beacon hope to the capital’s oppression.  As she and Peeta go on a district tours, she becomes to realize there is more to all the political wrangling.  As the 75th Hunger Games commence, she realizes that she must become something greater than what she knows.

The entire original cast returns for this sequel.  Out of the original, here are the main players:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark

Donald Sutherland as President Snow

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket

Lenny Kravitz as Cinna

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman

All of these actors/actresses as a whole do a swell job in recreating the characters from the first, but still providing enough wealth that makes them distinct and important to the sequel.  As the main focus of the films, Jennifer Lawrence does a great job in providing deeper fragility and guile to the character Katniss.  She is one that lives with the desire to live peacefully (even after the hunger games), but undestands that she has also become a beacon of hope.  Within this confliction, there is a cautious but personal struggle to do what is right, but not hurt those she loves the most.  Within that structure, you see a true grounded feeling towards humanity, as well as an awareness of purpose.  That helps create a character worth caring for with the audience.  When it comes to the rest of the cast, as mentioned above, they do a good job in providing importance to the film.  The most important people to Katniss are Peeta, Haymitch and Gale, played by Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth.  They help provide worth in their interactions with Katniss, as well as add emotional depth at certain points in the film.  This helps create an aura of worth, creating characters that are more than just secondary pawns to the story, but actually worthy of being people worth following on the screen.  As the real antagonist to both Katniss and the rest of the citizens, Donald Sutherland does a great job in create a two faced individual with President Snow.  He is one that struggles with gripping total power, but one that is as fragile with his own personal worth like Katniss.  This helps create an uneasy connection between both, but one that draws them apart and become real enemies.  This helps provide deepness to both him and Katniss, creating a struggle that goes beyond the hunger games and one that affects the whole systematic government that controls all 12 districts.  When it comes to the new comers to the film, to name a few that are important to the story, you have as followed:

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee

Sam Claflin as Finnick

Jeffrey Wright as Beetee

Jena Malone as Johanna Mason

These four do a great job in infusing deeper progression to the overall story, as well as providing worth to their own individuality.  As part of the new 75th Hunger Games, they help add a new challenge to Katniss, as well as to President Snow.  In this ongoing struggle between total control vs. revolution, they help provide the wedge that will push things over the edge, and force quality to the ongoing story.  This helps create another batch of individuals worth caring/hating for, as well as a ‘looking forward to’ mentality for the next couple of films.  When it comes to the rest of the supporting cast, they are your typical characters used for fictitious films, as they help provide that ‘background’ aspect to the film, creating a ‘world’ worth believing.

The film’s direction, on the surface, seems to follow the same linearity of the first.  Even with that similarity, you do seem some differences from the beginning.  What you see is that this film begins to add deeper layers to the whole ‘hunger games’ bravado of the world, showing a more complexity to the structure of the districts and the central government.  Within that depth, it creates a film that goes beyond just another generic ‘action flick’, creating a film with a story that has more realism.  In that realism, you see a political aspect begin to unfold, as there is more at stake for this fictitious world.  As the film picks up after the 74th hunger games, Katniss and Peeta are preparing to go on a district tour for winning the latest games.  Within that tour, you see as the proof of their win begins to unfold in all the other districts.  You also realize (as the two do as well) as the tour is a basic ‘smoke screen’, being another form of propaganda created by the government that provides a sense of ‘peace’ in these uneasy times.  There is a struggle beginning to bubble within two factions (Government vs. the Rebellion) and Katniss is caught in the middle.  Being a lynch pin to this ongoing struggle, you watch as the film gives a complexion that there are bigger ramifications to what Katniss did in the most recent games, as well as her personal struggles with her decisions on this tour.  In this first half, the film mainly focuses on her struggles of living in a world of peace vs. being a beacon of hope. This characterization becomes infused into the bigger ‘political’ wrangling, as blinds begin to subtly fall.  This helps create a vivid appeal that is both emotional and realistic; showing true aspect of our own world.  With the whole struggle of doing what is right (even at a cost), there is a sense of fragility that must be overcome.  You see this in Katniss, as well as the citizens in the districts.  As things begin to unfold, you realize that President Snow needs to find a way to nip this ‘hope’ in the bud. What happens is the 75th Hunger Games with a twist; all the victors of previous tournaments must compete against each other.  As the film moves along, it begins to push the characterization and thematic elements towards the traditional linearity of the first film.  You get a much fast pace look at the training, the alliances as well as the traditional build up to the games (like the first).  All of this feels shoehorned, but there is a convenient purpose of this ‘bridge’.  Once the film heads into the Hunger Games, you have all the typical ploys, struggles and sacrifices that are shown within them to create a sense of vigor, sentiment and value for both the audience as well as the districts watching them.  As the film moves through these hunger games, you begin to realize there is a deeper alliance being created behind the scenes, right in front of Katniss, as she is blindly ignorant by her trying to survive.  She feels like, someone else is pulling strings, but also feels like she is being guided by those strings.  You (as well as Katniss) begin to realize that these games are another ‘smoke screen’, which begins to cause Katniss to question her purpose, as well as the truth of all the things she is doing to help her district, Peeta and everyone else.  Once the film gets through some blatant convenient plot devices placed during the games, the film comes to a climax that will be a shock to some, but a revelation to others.  Once all the cards unfold, you see as the real truths come to the forefront, as the truth of the revolution becomes a reality.  As the film gets to the end, you see how the linearity of the film was actually a chain of events, leading to something bigger.  You begin to think back to what you have watched and realize that the film’s direction is based off the subtle dialogue and the play on scenes; seeing that everyone has been playing on Katniss innocence, positioning her for the real purpose.

The visuals of the film are a mix of realism and fictitious fantasy.  A lot of the realism comes from the creation of the districts, where the camera work shows the world through a vast zoom, creating vivid colors through the lack of colors.  From the forest, to the warehouses, to the homes and other raw elements of humanity, you get a feeling of how real the situation is for these people living in the districts.  This helps play in contrast to the creation of the capital.  With the creation of the fictitious capital of Panem, you get the glitz and over-the-top glamour that was shown in the first.  You have these bright and lavishing colors of attire, characters and all the skyscrapers that it helps create the illusion of peace, as well as the ignorance found in the citizen’s bliss.  The irony in all these creations here helps provide value to the fictitious nature.  Along with this, you have the arena of the 75th hunger games, which is a great recreation of wilderness, which is very frightening (from the smoke, animals, lightening and other devastating natural elements.  The score of the film is very subduing, but it is worth noting it because it adds elements of vigor at the most important moments of the game.

Overall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a great sequel.  It helps build upon the first, as well as add new elements that creates bigger consequences to the world of Panem.  The characters are great, the story is riveting, and all the visuals are just as good as the first.  If you’re a fan of the books or the first film, you will enjoy this one.  This is a definite watch at the movies this weekend.

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