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Film Title

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Director

Francis Lawrence

Starring

  • Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
  • Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
  • Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
  • Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
  • Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
  • Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
  • Jena Malone as Johanna Mason
  • Donald Sutherland as President Snow
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee
  • Jeffrey Wright as Beetee
  • Amanda Plummer as Wiress
  • Lenny Kravitz as Cinna
  • Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second film of The Hunger Games series. Following on from the groundwork set by the predecessor, it emerges as a smart, darker and more thought-provoking film. Featuring an excellent cast, a relatable heroine in the form of Katniss Everdeen as played by Jennifer Lawrence and some amazing visuals, Catching Fire is an sci-fi/action movie with brains that still delivers the goods.

Hunger Games Catching Fire Jennifer LawrenceAfter surviving the 74th Hunger Games by threatening to kill themselves, Katniss and Peeta return to District 12. They are paraded around as victors, but Katniss is having trouble adjusting to life again. Although seen as a beacon of hope by many, she is plagued by horrific nightmares of what she had to do in order to survive. The corrupt President Snow senses rebellion is brewing as a result of Katniss’ defiance. He blackmails Katniss into saying that the reason she survived was her ‘love’ for Peeta, when in actual fact she did it to enable their safety. He threatens to kill those most dear to Katniss if she doesn’t comply with his actions, including her good friend Gale, who has feelings for her. Although he wants Katniss dead, he employs the help of the enigmatic Plutarch, a man working on the Games. Plutarch suggests using a special version of The Hunger Games in order to relinquish rebellion. In this version of the games past victors can be chosen and sure enough Katniss and Peeta are both selected for the brutal games. As the games begin, Katniss must ally herself with some of the other skilled competitors in order to emerge alive from the carnage that will follow.

Taking over the reins from Gary Ross, Francis Lawrence crafts a darker, smoother movie than the first. Whereas Ross favoured use of kinetic shaky cam, Francis Lawrence utilises more fluid shots to create a sense of journey and the uphill battle to stay alive. The special effects employed in Catching Fire are marvellous in execution, especially the various obstacles that are thrown the way of Katniss. These include tidal waves, birds that mimic the screams of a loved one and some seriously vicious and brutal baboons. The score provided accentuates the struggles, pain and horror that befalls those competing. One flaw could be the length of the film as it does drag in places, but overall the running time is appropriate.

What gives Catching Fire its thought-provoking edge is the cast of it. Jennifer Lawrence once again is phenomenal as the heroine Katniss Everdeen. Lawrence lets us glimpse the emotional scars she suffered that she hides behind her strong, armour like demeanor. As a result, Katniss emerges a multi-dimensional character, alternately strong and capable but also caring and vulnerable. It is Lawrence’s performance that gives the film its heart. Josh Hutcherson rises to the challenge by being given more to do as Peeta than in the last movie. Liam Hemsworth follows suit with a more expanded role. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are both on fine form as the returning mentors to Katniss and Peeta. Newcomer Sam Claflin is charming as the capable contestant Finnick and Jena Malone is a stubborn, sullen but moving presence as Johanna. Donald Sutherland is gleefully nasty as the corrupt President Snow, while Philip Seymour Hoffman works well with his enigmatic role . The ever-reliable Jeffrey Wright provides the brains as the techno wizard and Amanda Plummer is delightfully kooky as his wife. Lenny Kravitz is touching as the sympathetic stylist to Katniss and Stanley Tucci is a hoot throughout.

Combining thrilling action, interesting parallels with the subtext of media manipulation and well-drawn characters, Catching Fire proves itself as a successful sequel  and great movie in its own right, spearheaded by the evocative and strong performance of Jennifer Lawrence.

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