I recently saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on the opening night, and what an experience it was.
Having read all three books by Suzanne Collins, the second was by far my favourite. It had built on the solid structure of the first one and had expanded the world, creating an epic feeling. The games had a more shocking and brutal feeling to them and Katniss and Peeta’s relationship was a highlight of the book. So, going into the movie adaption, i had high hopes and felt slightly nervous.
I needn’t have worried. Director Francis Lawrence has given us one of the most stunning dystopian movies in the history of cinema. It is so faithful to the book that diehard fans will love it, and it has plenty of well executed exposition so the uninitiated will feel right at home from the first shot. About 2/3rds of the movie is the aftermath of the first games, the setting up of the second and the spark of the rebellion. This is made in such an enthralling nature that it is just as riveting and as exciting as the games themselves.
The lead up is done so much better than the first one so when i saw Katniss and the other tributes rising up on their platforms to the centre of the arena, my heart was pounding. And a big bonus came out of the first bloodbath that made this one instantly distinguishable from the first: no shaky cam. After that, the action rarely stops to take a breath. Whether it’s giant monkeys, deadly fog, a tidal wave or blood rain, Katniss and her fellow tributes are always kept busy. It’s exhilarating to watch.
As for the acting, Jennifer Lawrence proves once again that she is the best actress working in Hollywood. She portrays aggressiveness, anger, fear and determination so well that all you can do is marvel. She is backed up by the stellar Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson who proved me wrong that he is a weak actor because he looks much more convincing on screen this time around. Woody Harrelson is again fantastic with some of the funnier lines while still being an emotional rock and Elizabeth Banks is given more to work with with a more vulnerable Effie Trinket. Sam Clafin and Jena Malone portray aggressive tributes Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason well with shades of vulnerability usually not seen in characters such as these. Donald Sutherland as President Snow is menacing and sleazy while radiating power. All in all a stellar cast turn in stellar performances.
I love that James Newton Howard kept some of the same themes from the first one while expanding his soundtrack in the second movie. It gives it a great sense of continuation.
The effects of course are top notch, with stunning shots of the capitol and hovercrafts that look so real it’s impossible to tell its CGI. There are excellently crafted live action set pieces with added CGI that blend together so well.
Panem and its 12 Districts are given more depth and really feel like a real world in this epic tale. I loved it from start to finish and can’t wait for the next installment. The final shot of the movie will inspire hope in many, an inspired move by both Lawrence’s.
See it now.