If you were wondering, no, the second film in The Hunger Games doesn’t disappoint. With a new director, Francis Lawrence (no relation to JLaw) at the helm, the second film in the franchise proved to be a much better-oiled machine than the first. And yes, this is coming from someone who’s read Suzanne Collin’s trilogy, and I know a few things were tweaked and or omitted- but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire followed the book a heck of a lot more closely than The Hunger Games did. But let’s not get into that right now; let’s talk about what our feels did during this two and a half hour ride. Do I need to warn you about spoilers? I suppose I do. Spoilers ahoy!
Firstly, can we all just breathe a sigh of relief that although we had our qualms about the casting decision (of new characters) the chosen actors were brilliant in their roles? They nicely complimented and really worked well with our star cast. As to be expected Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, respectively our Katniss, Peeta and Gale, have great onscreen chemistry amongst each other. Lawrence’s steely, at times frustratingly stubborn portrayal of Katniss really hits home in scenes where she plays a girl who doesn’t know how much her actions affect those around her. And I don’t just mean in terms of the unavoidable love-triangle between herself, Peeta (her victor-partner and “love”) and Gale, the broody childhood friend who’s in love with her. I mean as the Mockingjay- the symbol of hope in a rotten society.
Of course we can’t neglect the great chemistry Lawrence and Hutcherson have with other cast members too, namely Woody Harrelson, our alcoholic Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks, the effervescent Effie- Banks really nails it as the increasingly unsure Capitol escort for Peeta and Katniss. Oh speaking of Capitol people, how hilarious was Caesar…again? Stanley Tucci’s laugh made me laugh, and like Effie we could see how conflicted he was despite trying to keep up appearances in the way his laughter didn’t quite animate his entire face.
And our newcomers- can we also give them some love? Sam Caflin’s Finnick wasn’t what a lot of people wanted but I think he’s what they needed, Jena Malone’s Johanna was perfect, Mags played by Lynn Cohen broke our hearts and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heavensbee was subtle enough to fool us all even those who knew what was coming. And Cinna played by Lenny Kravitz, even though what was going to happen to him was something readers had long since come to terms with- seeing it still managed to reopen that original wound and salt it like a bitch. I think we should all just stab Snow, I have to hand it to Donald Sutherland- his portrayal really does give me the heeby jeebies.
Cinematography and costumes were stunning and thanks to the better budget the effects were off the hook. I especially loved Katniss’ wedding dress; the games arena is absolutely terrifying yet weirdly beautiful.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. What hit your feels and what made you roll your eyes? Mags and Cinna dying hit me in the feels. Peeta finding a pearl on the beach and giving it to Katniss made me laugh because all I could hear in my head, at Peeta’s expression was ‘I got that bitch a pearl, bitches love pearls.’ Johanna’s scenes all have a special place in my heart, I like that they kept Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch’s first encounter with the victor from District 7 the same. That elevator scene made my life and the adlib with Johanna swearing at the crowd during their final interview with Caesar? Perfection.
I’ll have to admit that before the Quarter Quell began the movie moved quite slowly and I’ve never been a fan of triangles so the suspense in regards to who Katniss loves is lost on me. I just felt bad for Gale getting whipped like he did, I really wanted that douche to die but that was where it ended for me. I see no point in the triangle except to pull in shipping teens.
The unnecessary bloodshed finally begins to hit home with some of the Capitol, and Effie’s heartfelt goodbye to her tributes/victors really does hit home. “You both deserved so much better. I am truly sorry.” And she’s right, everyone who’s ever entered the arena against their will, hell even as volunteers, deserved better. It’s a brilliant commentary on our society, we’re all so easily distracted by the beautiful things that catch our attention and often forget about the underbelly of society where the less fortunate dwell.
We’re really set up for the larger scale world of Panem by the end of the film, which leaves us on quite the cliff-hanger. The decision to end with a close up of Katniss’ face upon being told that District 12’s been annihilated and their entire world has been thrown into tumult is brilliant, she’d been tranqulised earlier after finding out about Peeta being taken. In the novel it takes Katniss a while to come to, and everything she learns comes in drips and drabs as she goes in and out of consciousness after being rescued from the arena as the revolution begins.
By having Katniss come to with a bit more clarity and Gale, already out of place considering we last saw him in District 12, at her side there’s no delay in info relay. District 12 is no more, Peeta’s been taken by the Capitol and they’re on their way to District 13 and the two-part conclusion of such an epic series. Lawrence’s face goes from anguish to determination before the screen goes black.
– Prim’s a different sort of badass to her sister and you’ll learn this more in the final two (yes, the third book’s been split to make two films) movies. The little we saw of her in Catching Fire was promising.
– Josh Hutcherson’s height always makes me giggle, but I think he’s brilliant none-the-less okay.
– Can I just be bestfriends with the cast already?
– Them jabberjays though really pack a punch.