The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Francis Lawrence directs the latest installment in the Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series. The movie picks up shortly after heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and fellow victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return from winning, more like surviving, the 74th annual Hunger Games. The effects of the brutal and vicious games are quickly evident in the post traumatic symptoms exhibited by the main protagonist. Katniss cannot erase the images of children being massacred.
Katniss also battles with her blossoming feelings for Peeta and her unrelenting love for Gale Hawthorne, her childhood, best friend. This is a theme explored throughout the movie. While she has grown to love Gale, she cannot deny her feelings for Peeta that sprouted from the ruins of despair and war. President Snow, played perfectly by Donald Sutherland, forewarns Ms. Everdeen that her “charade” romance with Peeta must continue for the Capitol citizens or else he’d kill those she loves. Katniss defiance in essentially breaking the rules in the last Hunger Games has begun a revolution. Her defiance has created a sense of hope within the oppressed people of the twelve districts.
As typical, Katniss and Peeta must go on the victory tour where they visit and pay respects to their fellow competitors. During the tour, Katniss realizes that a movement is “catching fire.” President Snow decides to alter the rules of the 75th Hunger Games or 3rd Quarter Quell. The competitors from each district will be selected from the pool of victors. Essentially meaning Katniss must once again duel for her survival. (While this was a shock to me as I read the novel, the movie’s trailer has revealed this plotline, so I don’t think I am spoiling it). Peeta and Katniss are once again thrust into the Hunger Games. The rest of the film chronicles the 75th Hunger Games and the satisfying twist at the end.
As I watched the movie and began formulating my review, I prayed for the movie to get better. I desperately wanted to be smitten by this movie, especially as an avid fan of the series. Unfortunately I was not. The 2 hour and 26 minute behemoth of a movie is unnecessarily long and incredibly tedious. While I appreciate the commitment to the novel, there is about 20 minutes worth of material that could have been cut out. The Harry Potter series is an example of movie adaptations that are not verbatim to the books but still true to the spirit of the storyline.
There were several periods of time where I kept wishing for events to speed up. It literally took 1 hour and 45 minutes for the 75th Hunger Games to begin. I was bored at times. A fan of the book shouldn’t be bored while watching an anticipated movie adaptation.
Now before I get a torrid of hateful comments from avid fans, I want to state that although I was not terribly impressed I still think that the movie was good. Lawrence was fantastic as usual. Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of Caesar Flickerman, a character combination of Oprah Winfrey and Ryan Seacrest, was a much welcomed reprieve from some of the more dull moments. His scenes were refreshing.
The budget for the movie was reportedly doubled and evident in the special effects. They weren’t overwhelmed or consuming, but more so a compliment to the movie (unlike in Man of Steel). The political ramifications of Katniss’s actions were interesting. While there are some admiring points in the first 2/3rd of the movie, the last arc is really when the best parts begin. I just thought it took too long to get to them.
I know my review is not of the popular opinion. I know there will be millions of fans who disagree with me. Frankly that’s okay. This is my review and thus my opinion. Overall, Catching Fire was acceptable, but not better than its predecessor. If you are a fan of the series I would recommend watching this installment. If you like these types of films, you probably will like it. But I want to stress, this is not the best movie it could have been. While I liked it, I certainly wasn’t crazy about it. Take that as you will.
Running Time: 146 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence, some frightening images, thematic elements, suggestive situation and language)
My Grade: B
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