Feature Presentation: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

catching_fireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plumber, Sam Clafin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland

Lionsgate, 2013. Rated PG-13

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen has managed to survive the Hunger Games, but her fight is just beginning. It seems that her actions in the arena have incited rebellion within the districts, a rebellion the President Snow wants crushed. But when it is announced that for the next Hunger Games, the tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors, Katniss finds herself in yet another fight for her life. Desperate to keep herself and Peeta alive, Katniss begins to formulate a plan that she hopes will help them survive against the odds that appear to be ever-growing against them.

The second installment in the book-to-film trilogy is an improvement on the first, most notably in regards to the camera work. Francis Lawrence, the film’s director, made the wise decision to use steadicam shots rather than the handheld work of The Hunger Games, which for me made it a much more enjoyable viewing experience. I COULD ACTUALLY FOCUS ON STUFF BEFORE THE CAMERA MOVED AWAY. IT WAS AMAZING. The stakes have been raised with the announcement that past winners will be facing off against each other, creating even more anger and unrest within Panem as the nation is forced to say goodbye to people with whom they have created a ‘personal’ connection. It gives us a sense of the impending chaos about to erupt if the peace cannot be kept. While the viewer doesn’t have much of a connection with the ‘new’ tributes, we are endeared to them: Finnick (Sam Clafin), who deals in secrets; Johanna (Jena Malone, who has finally been cast in a role that doesn’t make her look like she’s twelve), who just wants to be left alone; Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), whose inventions have revitalized Panem; Mags (Lynn Cohen), who volunteered herself as tribute for Annie. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson still have the same electric chemistry that made us cheer for them in The Hunger Games, the same energy that is driving their characters to survive and look out for each other, even if Katniss still isn’t sure how she feels about Peeta. The scope of the film is much grander this time around as well: the parties on the victory tour are grand, the arena is much more dangerous, and the costumes are more intricate. The viewer is also seeing a little more of District 12 and Panem itself, giving us a taste of the unique cultures and peoples in each district. It’s a film that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and gives them feels. So many feels.

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