Friday, November 22, 2013
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
The Hunger Games saga continues in this sequel that finds a revolution brewing as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) take a "Victor's Tour" of the districts, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) plots their downfall during preparations for The Quarter Quell, which only occurs every 25 years in celebration of the Capitol's victory over the districts. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone, Woody Harrelson
Release Date: Nov 22, 2013
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some
frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Runtime: 2 hr. 26 min.
The 2nd film in a major film franchise is typically the most difficult. It has to deal with heightened expectations first and foremost with most films failing to match the energy that made the first entry successful. Thankfully The Hunger Games: Catching Fire isn’t one of those films. Catching Fire does everything you want a 2nd entry in a big budget franchise to do, it corrects chemistry and story problems from the 1st film while expanding the world, while delivering a deeper exploration of the themes at play. It’s an impressive feat accomplished by the cast and crew. Francis Lawrence’s direction is steady and capable making the 2 and ½ hour run seem necessary with rarely a wasted scene in the whole film. Lawrence moves the film at a steady pace, giving the audience enough time to digest the events on screen but never lingering. The first two acts in particular are quite impressive mainly because with a lesser director, cast and script it’d be a laborious slog through exposition. Instead the first act serves nicely as an epilogue/entry point for the new film as it shows the after effects of the first film. The 2nd act starts the main plot in earnest even though we do start to run into some retread moments with slightly different spins with the 3rd act leaving you with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. It’s not a major fault but it does feel very familiar until the last 15 minutes change up the entire game. The cast lead by Jennifer Lawrence, providing even more depth to the reluctant rebel, is excellent throughout. Lawrence is the center of the film providing it with heart and strength while maintaining a tangible vulnerability. Thankfully, Josh Hutcherson’s character and performance in this entry is stronger overall even if he does seem to suffer from damsel in distress syndrome quite a bit. The returning cast member, Harrelson and Banks in particular, are given a bit more to chew on, fleshing out their characters into living breathing human beings. Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are both welcome additions to the cast even if Malone tends to oversell her performance from time to time. When you add it all up, Catching Fire really delivers on nearly all counts, stumbling slightly in the 3rd act which can get a little repetitive before an interesting turn and cliffhanger.