The odds are still in the favor of The Hunger Games franchise. With the newest film Catching Fire hitting theaters this weekend, fans are in for a rare treat – a sequel that is actually better than the original – at least in this critic’s opinion.
Catching Fire picks up right where the first film left off. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has returned home along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games and convincing everyone they’re madly in love. Winning doesn’t mean it’s over for these two though. They have “Victor’s Tour” of all the districts, and along the way it becomes clear that people are restless and in desperate need of change. A revolution is on the horizon, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is aware of it. However, between Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), head gamemaker, they have devised a plan to demonstrate that the Capitol is still very much in control. The 75th Annual Hunger Games will be comprised of 1 male and 1 female tribute from each district who have won previous games. Bringing both Katniss and Peeta back to the game with all the stakes raised.
The special effects are incredible and the costumes that adore Effie (Elizabeth Banks) paired with the remarkable set design will without question have the film nominated come Oscar season. With the budget being double what it was for the original Hunger Games, the visual difference is noticeable – while the actual script remains just as strong and inspiring. Francis Lawrence does a fine job as the director on his largest and sure to be most successful project to date.
The cast is comprised of Academy Award winners and Academy Award nominees, and it shows. Jennifer Lawrence does an incredible job at portraying a female heroine who is not only strong and self-sufficient but also vulnerable. For those of you that haven’t read all the books, you’ll fall even more in love with Josh Hutherson’s character Peeta. He’s charming and not afraid to risk it all for Katniss. He may be the underdog in the romantic triangle between Katniss and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) in the first film, but fans will without question fall for him in this one (again if you don’t know what’s coming in the books). Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, and Jena Malone also bring flawless performances to the screen.
Overall, this film is a superior sequel full of heart and substance – more than you can say for the majority of films that are created for the young adult audience (aka Twilight). That being said, Catching Fire transcends the demographic that it was intended for and is enjoyable and appropriate for all ages. The only negative thing I can say about it – I’m not please I have to wait 2 more years for this story to unfold on the big screen. It’s far too good for me to have the patience to wait.
Review By: Emma Loggins