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The Hunger Games eagerly awaited sequel ‘Catching Fire’ follows the Twilight series as the latest in a trend of book to movie blockbuster franchises to light up the big screen. Suzanne Collins best-selling novels for ‘young adults’ focus on the 17 year old Katniss Everdeen, a heroine who stands up to a totalitarian society and generally sticks it to the man.
The actual hunger games are a brutal fight to the death between 24 teenagers chosen from the 12 districts of the fictional country of Panem. As you either know already or can gather from the fact there’s a sequel Katniss and her co-combatant Peeta won the last hunger games and the second film finds them touring the country in a media circus style celebration.
Our adolescent couple have been forced to continue playing the part of star-struck lovers that they adopted for the cameras in the first games but the truth is much less rose-tinted. While the dangerous duo struggle to keep up appearances things are going equally wrong throughout Panem with social discontent rife and riots being barely suppressed left, right and centre. As this goes on Katniss has unwittingly become the symbol of hope for the downtrodden outer districts.
From here the plot initially seems about as predictable as that of The Titanic and can definitely be criticized for bearing far more than a passing resemblance to the first movie. Don’t let this put you off yet though because the action itself is well executed and there may just be a couple of twists in this tale.
Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss and generally does a good job although at times it is hard to tell if she is really a figurehead of female empowerment or just a violent slut as her attentions seem to flicker between each and every male cast member as the mood takes her.
Jennifer Lawrence performs alongside a star-studded cast including Lenny Kravitz (looks better than he acts), Donald Sutherland (baddie), Woody Harerelson (drunk), Elizabeth Banks (needs a drink), Stanley Tucci (cheesy but brilliant)and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (brilliant as always) making his entrance into the series. The acting is good throughout despite no outstanding performances and we can look forward to a lot more of Phillip Seymour Hoffman next time round.
The characters themselves go by a variety of ambitious names such as Effie Trinckett, Woof, Haymitch Abernathy, Caesar Flickerman, Marvel and the ultimate winner: Plutarch Heavensbee. You have to wonder if this is a nation of cruel parents who named their children by combining the name of their first pet with that of their favourite comic book character.
With the budget increased over 50% for Catching Fire (I think they spent most of it on extravagant character names) the movie looks pretty cool and there is an excellent action sequence featuring some super scary, super big nosed baboons. The baboons, however, seemed almost as if they’d been thrown in to the mix just to add excitement and they leave in an equally bizarre although less exciting manner. In fact the whole movie is quite confusing and would be best described as a series of entertaining events strung together by the most tenuous of connections.
The Hunger Gamnes: Catching Fire is essentially a bridge between the original movie and the two final installments yet to come and it suffers as a consequence. The storyline lacks the depth that is needed to make such a long movie work while the viewer constantly finds themselves wondering why things happen. Hopefully the sequels will provide some answers but if plot integrity is what you’re looking for then I wouldn’t hold your breath. In fact the movie is absolutely riddled with plot holes that are conveniently skipped over for the next visually satisfying action sequence. This being said I left the cinema asking myself ‘What happens next?’ and am actually looking forward to the next episode. Ultimately I enjoyed the movie but found myself wishing it got a bit closer to fulfilling its potential.
Star Rating 3/5