Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Jason Burleson

Theatrical Key ArtNearly two years ago, The Hunger Games started a movement for young adult books and films.  Never before has a book had an impact on literature and film since perhaps the Harry Potter franchise.  Seemingly, The Hunger Games has succeeded where Harry Potter lost ground due to a much more adult reading audience. This has never been more evident.  Fast forward two years and the follow up to the original is nearing release.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is surely to grab just as many, if not more, audience members as the first and continue the trend in young adult drama.

In the second installment to The Hunger Games franchise, we catch back up with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson). We find these characters dealing with their post Hunger Games duties and beginning to realize their role of leadership into the rebellion of the districts.  While the first Hunger Games was an excellent film, it’s usually very unlikely the second will be better.  However, this is not the case with this film, and it is the icing on the cake for this series.  In this film, Lionsgate decided to go with a new director, Francis Lawrence, no relation to the beautiful lead actor.  He does an excellent job changing the feel of Panem to relate more to the book and succeeds in reaching the darker imagery most will have perceived from the beginning of the war of districts.

Catching FireDuring their Victory Tour, we get to see how the districts have changed since Katniss and Peeta broke the rules of the 74th Hunger Games and were both allowed to win.  A rebellion is beginning to take place and there is an obvious undertone throughout the film. It shows that while somewhat embarrassed to be parading around to each district after killing other tributes, both Katniss and Peeta have sparked leadership and stand up for each of the districts in defiance.

Most readers will also be happy to hear that we get to see more of the supplementary characters as well.  Characters like Gale, Haymitch, Cinna and Effie contribute just as much as the victors into sparking this revolution and every single one pays a price.  The film does an excellent job of character development, and the audience will be happy to learn more of each background.  Within this character development, we’ll see more tension between the Gale, Katniss and Peeta love triangle which wasn’t really expressed in the first film.  Elizabeth Banks does an excellent job of portraying Effie Trinket and completely surprised me in this film.  We definitely get a true understanding of how hard her job is to stand up and be brave while keeping a smile on her face. She truly is the glue that holds the group together.  Stanley Tucci is hilarious in his follow-up performance of Caesar Flickerman, not to mention Phillip Seymour-Hoffman who plays the new twisted but planning Gamemaker.

Catching FireThe diversity of each character and the amount of pre-film exploration for each actor is unimaginable to me.  Each character is completely different and sets themselves apart.  Not to mention all of the other victors in this film.  Each is just as interesting in the film as the book.  Each character grows up tremendously in order to express the cruelty that is The Hunger Games.

What really surprised me was just how much scene for scene book material was actually in this film.  Lionsgate really hit the nail on the head choosing Francis Lawrence and really renewed this franchise again.  Watching this film with absolute fans of the books, I couldn’t see an unhappy face like I did when watching the first Hunger Games for the first time.  This is probably the most accurate book to film adaptation I’ve seen in a long time.

Something also needs to be said for the elaborate and detailed costumes that went into making this film.  While I was most impressed with Elizabeth Bank’s dresses, one of which made completely of handpainted feathers made to look like butterflies, each and every costume blows my mind.  This is refreshing due to the uninspired capital citizens I saw in the first film.  Costume designer Trish Summerville is in a league of her own.

Truly, the best thing about this film is the transition of the capital in control to the beginning of a revolution.  You will absolutely be swept off your feet with compassion for every single member of Panem.  The little touches put together from everyone from the director, costume designer, and, dare we forget, the actors portrays something we haven’t seen before in a young adult drama.  You will be blown away.  Every single person involved does something incredible to add to the brilliant light that is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  You will find this film to be a tremendous follow up and won’t be disappointed.

I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 5 “Golden Bracelets” out of 5.

 by Jason Burleson

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