Catching Fire: a review.

Catching-Fire

My family and I saw Catching Fire at the theatre immediately after watching Frozen on a lazy Sunday. My eldest daughter had seen it as a sneak preview with friends a while ago and was keen to see it again with the rest of us. So why not? All but my youngest (a half-hearted attempt to start doesn’t count) had read the books and we thought they were a decent read.

The story picks up a few months following The Hunger Games. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) survived the arena by defying the authorities. In doing so, Katniss and Peeta captured the hearts of the people of Panem. Their fairy tale romance (fabricated or real???) was an endless source of distraction for the masses and consternation for the authorities. Their defiance appeared to trigger  revolutionary rumblings. As they toured the districts of Panem in celebration of victory and reverence to the fallen, symbolic gestures of revolution would follow. As fate (or conspiracy) would have it, Peeta and Katniss were destined to return to the arena. They found themselves part of a special 75th anniversary version (aka 3rd quarter quell) of the Hunger Games, facing previous champions. The other subplot, Katniss’ duelling suitors , Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) remained a minor thematic element and was thankfully dismissed in a few words.

I reviewed The Hunger Games last year here and much of my sentiment then can be cut and pasted in this review. Catching Fire is a good action film, suitable for older children. The biggest weaknesses of this film are that it expects you to be familiar with the first instalment and doesn’t spend any time with character development. To be fair, the source material is a bit thin in those departments as well. However, insight into character motivation was fleshed out on the page and that helped me  really care about the characters. These sentiments were not earned by either of the films. Do you have to read the books to enjoy this film? Clearly not, if my youngest daughter’s experience is anything to go on. But I am glad I did because it helped me understand the hype surrounding this adequately entertaining action film.

I think a female led  successful action franchise aimed at older kids and young adults is a good thing. One of my favourite parts of the movie was when Katniss acknowledged that she had various concerns competing for her attention. These concerns were refreshingly beyond the typical focus of YA oriented fare. Thus she acknowledged her inability to sort through her feelings regarding Gale and Peeta. I also enjoyed the arena scenes, the action and the thoughtful strategizing. In the arena, alliances were built and competitors were killed. Double crossing scoundrels remained a constant threat. Then the movie ended abruptly with a cliff hanger, just like the novel (a cop out IMO). I imagine it will inspire some people, who can’t handle the suspense of a year’s wait, to read the final novel if they hadn’t done so already.

The acting was fine, the cinematography good with tolerable CGI action sequences. This film was paced better than its predecessor. I really enjoyed the main cast and the veteran supporting actors (Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman).

If you liked the first film, I don’t think you will be disappointed with this sequel.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tara
    Dec 11, 2013 @ 01:15:52

    Yes I will be reading all the books on vacation because I can’t wait for 2 more movies (yes they are splitting the 3rd book into 2) to find out how it ends – and my husband refuses to tell me!

    Reply

  2. dvdiva
    Dec 11, 2013 @ 08:17:09

    Hi Tara,
    Thanks for commenting; it is always appreciated whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts. Thanks for also reassuring my suspicions 😉

    I dug out the last book to refresh my memories of some of the details too. No, I won’t discuss spoilers in the comments. Truth be told, I think dividing the last book into 2 movies is a Hollywood technique designed to make more money when they know they have a captive audience. Mockingjay has a similar page count to the first 2 instalments. Frankly I found it a bit tedious by the end and was glad it was over.

    Let me know what you think after you have finished reading the books. Perhaps I was a bit too harsh. I prefer character driven stories over pure action.

    Reply

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