“You fought very hard in the games Ms. Everdeen, but they were games. Would you like to be in a real war? Imagine thousands of your people dead. Your loved ones…gone“-Donald Sutherland as President Snow
Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) is the Girl on Fire once more in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
Fresh off their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson (“Red Dawn,” “The Kids Are All Right”) are preparing to embark on their Victory Tour across Panem but they quickly discover that life after the Hunger Games, especially their victory, has changed everything they know.
In District 12, Katniss and her best friend Gale Hawthorne, played by Liam Hemsworth (“The Last Song,” “The Expendables 2”), have found that their relationship has changed which prompts President Snow, played by Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland (“Ordinary People”), to take an opportunity to converse with the Girl on Fire with matters of state.
Snow believes that Katniss and Peeta openly defied the Capitol by winning the Hunger Games, and their victory has inspired the oppressed and the unfortunate in Panem to believe that the Capitol isn’t as invulnerable as Snow wants the people to believe.
Fearing the possibility of all out war, Snow urges Katniss to use the Victory Tour to silence any whispers of revolution in the country and make whatever relationship she has with Peeta as convincingly romantic as possible, otherwise people close to Katniss will get hurt.
After the Victory Tour, Snow discovers that the silence he was expecting is replaced by more acts of insurrection and upheaval, which leads Snow to brainstorm with new Gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote,” “Doubt”), to discuss new ways to contain the “hope” of Panem which leads to the Third Quarter Quell, the third 25 year milestone of the Hunger Games, which features a new twist in the rules.
“As a reminder that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the Capitol, each district must offer their tributes from their existing pool of victors“-Donald Sutherland as President Snow
This news sent shockwaves throughout Panem and hit hardest in District 12 for this district only has three victors, one of which is a female. Katniss Everdeen is returning to the arena and Peeta Mellark will join her since he volunteers to take the place of their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, played by Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson (“The Messenger,” “Zombieland”).
Katniss and Peeta are whisked back to the Capitol to prepare for the upcoming Quarter Quell and are joined by Haymitch, their escort Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks (“Seabiscuit,” “W.”) and their styling team led by Cinna, played by Lenny Kravitz (“Precious,”).
“I want you guys to forget everything you think you know about the games. This year, you’re dealing with experienced killers“-Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
The 75th Hunger Games is going to be a battle royale where winners from each district go head to head. Katniss and Peeta will be in the arena with notables such as Finnick Odair, played by Sam Claflin (“Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides”), Johanna Mason, played by Jena Malone (“Sucker Punch”), Beetee, played by Golden Globe winner Jeffery Wright (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”), Mags, played by Lynn Cohen (“Munich”), and Wiress, played by Amanda Plummer (“Don’t Look Back”).
With public opinion already against the Capitol and the fates of her loved ones riding on the outcome, every move Katniss makes could mean life or death, but a looming cloud hangs over head because the 75th Hunger Games are poised to change everything.
“Remember who the real enemy is“-Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is a solid and steady adaptation of a thoroughly compelling novel. Director Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend,” “Water for Elephants”) and the screenwriting team of Michael DeBruyn (“Oblivion”) and Academy Award winner Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours”) gave a valiant effort in extracting every important detail from the pages of Suzanne Collins’ novel and adapting it to the big screen.
The film is certainly a step-up from its predecessor as it displays a level up in maturity, scope, visual grandeur and emotional fever. Credit should be given to Lawrence, DeBruyn and Beaufoy for their attention to detail to the story but the story isn’t really compelling if one read the book, so it gives a safe impression but the drama laced inside the story is coherent enough to compliment the spectacle.
Jennifer Lawrence gives a strong performance as the lead character. The focalization is essentially her character’s perspective and it keeps the story flowing because it is basically the Katniss’ story.
The supporting cast gives decent performances as well. It is disappointing that veteran actors such as Harrelson, Sutherland and Hoffman don’t take full advantage of their characters but a few performances stand out and leave an impression such as Jena Malone’s Johanna and Sam Claflin’s Finnick.
The story takes no liberties to jump out and excite anyone who has read the novel. Instead it takes its time to accumulate every important detail in the book and put it on the big screen in order to please its audience and it this fashion, it is successful.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” won’t dazzle its audience but it will appease them for it is a patient, well-paced and thoroughly solid motion picture. It won’t set the viewer ablaze but it will keep the viewer toasty and satisfied from start to finish.