The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – Francis Lawrence

 

The Sci-Fi Chronicles book continues to entertain, and now, I’m diving into the cinematic adaption of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, The Hunger Games. I’ve read the books, and reviewed the first film way back here, but hadn’t covered the other films in the series yet, so it was time to dive back into the world of the Districts, the brutal Peacekeepers, mockingjays (which are co-opted into a symbol of the rebellion) , tracker jackers, and defiance.

Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in this, the first sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. Most everyone knows I’m a fan of Lawrence, and whether you like these films or not, her performances are nuanced and excellent in each of them. As the film opens, we learn that she and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) after surviving the 74th Hunger Games have returned to their home, District 12, before being sent on a district tour.

It’s very obvious from the start, that Katniss is suffering some extreme PTSD, and seems to barely holding on. Her sister Prim (Willow Shields) and potential beau, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) provide as much of an anchor as they can, but the eyes of the Districts, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) always seem to be upon her, so she is forced to maintain the illusion of a relationship with Peeta, one of the things that helped her survive the games the first time around.

This is complicated by the fact that Gale is starting to let his true feelings for Katniss show.

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And if she didn’t have enough problems, President Snow recognizes that her act of defiance during the games could plant the seed for rebellion, and cause he and the residents of District 1 some serious issues down the line. So with the help of the new game designer, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he uses the third quarter quell leading into the 75th Hunger Games, to exploit a loophole, and recall all the previous winners from the various districts to compete, again, in the arena. He sees this as an opportunity to wipe out any threat Katniss and the previous winners may pose.

Her world completely collapses when she learns she must return to the games, but this time there may be more going on than she realizes as plans are implemented while she, Peeta, and twenty-two other survivors fight for their lives again…

Having established the world in the first film, there is more time to play and explore in this film, and as we see the seeds of defiance growing through the District Tour (the visit to Rue’s district is especially heart-breaking) we know that these acts of rebellion (and their repercussions) are going to increase until it becomes a conflagration, with Katniss at its center.

This one is a stronger film than the first, the characters are given more to do, and it’s great to Stanley Tucci back as Caesar with Toby Jones at his side, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna all back in play.

But these films would rise and fall on the performance of Jennifer Lawrence, and she is more than up for the task, and as always, is incredibly watchable…

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