I read the first Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins and honestly hated it. I didn’t like the story, and didn’t care about any of the characters and thought the whole, “Children killing each other for entertainment and discipline,” is just uncomfortable. Not to mention it’s a clear ripoff of the Japanese film Battle Royale (2000). I did think The Hunger Games (2012) film was better to view than to read, but I hated the cinematography. The use of shaky cam. was just nauseating and confusing to follow. I was thrilled when they announced a new director would helm the sequel.
*SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST HUNGER GAMES MOVIE TO FOLLOW, FAIR WARNING*
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) picks up relatively where the first film left off. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have sparked a rebellion after winning the 74th Hunger Games by defying the capitol and attempting to kill themselves (It makes sense if you’ve seen the first movie).
Right off the bat, you can see that Katniss is scarred from participating in The Hunger Games and still has haunting dreams of killing and witnessing death before her eyes. I think it’s great that they showed that Katniss is still human and can feel these things, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Peeta felt as well. The guy killed Cato, he’s gotta feel something, right?
The stakes are certainly higher in this movie than the first movie. Evidence of a rebellion is apparent as Katniss and Peeta go on their victory tour to the other 11 districts of Panem (which must be mad awkward). People are being detained and executed on the spot and there is this one scene that was genuinely disturbing to me. The president of the Capitol wants Katniss dead and then the new head of the Hunger Games (I guess you could call him the director?) says that they shouldn’t kill Katniss, they should turn her into one of them so the people stop idolizing her and begin to hate her. Oh and this guy is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and he KILLS IT in this film. Then the Quarter Quell approaches to celebrate the 75th annual Hunger Games, which is basically the All-Star Game of Hunger Games Now even Hunger Games champions who have been living the good life are up in arms.
Half the movie doesn’t even take place during the Games and you know what, I’m alright with that. It makes you see the bigger picture here and that it’s not just about these Games, it’s about hope and a revolution in the making.
Cinematography was WAY better in this movie than the last one. It was as if the last movie was only filmed on a telephoto lens and that the camera operator had a restless leg syndrome in his hand. Way too shaky and honestly unprofessional. This one had more steady shots and I wasn’t sea sick halfway through the movie. There were a few shots however that I found confusing, like why is the camera there? A lot of people don’t realize that cinematography should be used to help move the story forward and support the plot of the movie. Camera placement is very important and in some instances I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why a camera was somewhere and not somewhere else.
The casting in the Hunger Games movies has been a recurring positive for me. They brought in greats like Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Allen for the first one and even Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci. Jeffrey Wright was cast in this movie and I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s great in Casino Royale (2006) THEN THEY BROUGHT IN PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN FOR THIS MOVIE. Like I said, PSH killed it in this movie. I kept saying to myself the entire time, “This guy is way to smart to be working for the Capitol, what’s his deal?” and I think PSH has a lot to do with that vibe I got from the character. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of those actors I feel goes under the radar a lot but when he comes out for a role, he never ceases to amaze. Having said all this, Lawrence, Hutcherson, Allen, and the rest of the recurring cast performed very well and didn’t lose a step between the last movie and this one.
SIDENOTE: Sam Clafin, who plays Finnick Odair, needs to be cast as Aquaman in an Aquaman movie. The guy is blonde and holds a trident the entire film; all the key ingredients to a great Aquaman!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire certainly took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting much after I saw the first one and I am glad that the new direction and additions to the cast have helped make this a successful sequel. Also the ending: PERFECTION. I loved the ending and all I can say without spoiling it is that the ending is a great set up for the third movie (Which is only half of the third and final book because now the norm is to split the final book into two parts… because they do it for the fans and not money, right? RIGHT?)
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Better cinematography than the first minus a few shots here and there. It can drag a little bit with the impending Hunger Games approaching but it’s worth it in the end. Well acted, God bless Philip Seymour Hoffman. A great lead up to the beginning of the end of the Hunger Games story, and I may just read the third book because I’m actually really curious as to what happens.
IMAGES: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/going-out-guide/files/2013/11/wk-hunger1122-2.jpg, http://catchingfiremovienews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/CatchingFire-poster.jpeg