The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

The District 12 tributes.

Having survived the 74th Annual Hunger Games on their terms in “The Hunger Games,” Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”) and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”) are national heroes.

As we find in the second installment, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, however, this new found fame comes with a price — when embarking on a Victor’s Tour of the Districts, Katniss discovers that getting one over on the Capitol has stirred up the beginnings of revolution. In a bid to make an example of Katniss and to quash the simmering rebellion, President Snow (Donald Sutherland, “The Eagle”) conspires with his next in line, the newly appointed chief game-maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”) and they quickly devise the 75th Annual Hunger Games known as The Third Quarter Quell where previous winners must now come back to battle each other.

Given that ‘The Games’ are the most thrilling and widely discussed part of the trilogy, it’s disappointing to see that The Third Quarter Quell only takes up a small part of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in comparison to ‘The Games’ in the first film. Bloodlust too is curtailed this time around as alliances are instead formed with new faces — Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin, “Snow White and the Huntsman”), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone, “Sucker Punch”), Wiress (Amanda Plummer, “Small Apartments”) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright, “The Ides of March”) — in order to survive the arena and all the poisonous theme park-esque trials it has to throw at them.

In its place, writers Simon Beaufoy (“127 Hours”) and Michael Arndt (“Oblivion”) focus more attention to the underlying themes of class inequality and the exploitation of the cult of celebrity. Stark contrasts are highlighted again and again by director Francis Lawrence (“Water for Elephants”) — residents of the capital pose and primp in ridiculous getups while the working class of the 12 districts of Panem scrape by with scraps to survive. And as a forced participant of the propaganda machine meant to maintain fear, Katniss in her steadfastness reveals to all the dangers of ignorant complacency (so well in fact that she even causes the painted lady, Effie Trinket (a wonderful Elizabeth Banks, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”) to take pause).

As the unwitting heroine, Jennifer Lawrence delivers strength and compassion with equal measure. Her character in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is no longer purposefully blind to world in which she lives; she is now deeply scarred from her ordeals (even suffering from PTSD) and more determined than ever to do whatever is necessary to save those she cares about. It is damned hard to not quietly applaud Lawrence’s efforts even when she appears to be just going through the motions (it could, of course, be argued that that’s what the role of Katniss demands in this sequel).

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

In the arena.

The performances of the rest of the cast are serviceable enough to be convincing. Hutcherson is still weak to a fault. Donald Sutherland as President Snow is effectively threatening but doesn’t quite reach the spine-chilling aura described in Suzanne Collins’ novel. Liam Hemsworth (“The Expendables 2”) as Katniss’ true love, Gale, is marginally better at playing lovestruck, while Woody Harrelson (“The Now You See Me”) as Katniss’ and Peeta’s mentor tries his hand at sympathetic with limited success.

In spite of these weaknesses, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire should handily satisfy most fans who are hungry for this next installment even if it doesn’t quite stand up as a “full” film in its own right. There is no escaping the interim movie feel: Rushed in some places, and incomplete and repetitive in others (particularly in the lead up to the games as the tributes prepare themselves for battle). Its unsatisfying conclusion is understandable, however, as the story is not yet over . . .

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average

3

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'Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)' have 21 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 20, 2013 @ 11:14 pm Voltair

    The majority of the early reviews I’ve read indicate this was better than first. Did you like the first installment?

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 20, 2013 @ 11:28 pm MaineElk

    Is a rewatch of the first a prereq to enjoying the second?

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 22, 2013 @ 1:31 pm I'm a Repost

      Not really but probably a good idea. All you need to remember going in is Katniss and Peeta survived the games by pretending to be in love.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 20, 2013 @ 11:33 pm Tophy

    First movie turned me off to the franchise. I won’t be back.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 21, 2013 @ 2:56 pm Michael David Cobb

      You should reconsider. The story gets stronger as it progresses.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 21, 2013 @ 8:28 pm Not Drunk

      Your loss.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 20, 2013 @ 11:55 pm 7thAmigo

    I’m looking forward to this. It is by far the best book of the trilogy and from what I’ve heard they stick closely to the source.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 23, 2013 @ 2:43 pm Skittles

      I saw it today and I was blown away. Every aspect of the movie is really well done. It’s a must see for fans of the trilogy and sci-fi lovers.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 12:32 am TripFiction

    I’m really impressed with how Jennifer Lawrence has matured as an actor.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 5:00 am Fantum

    I loved it. It is one of the better novel to movie adaptations I’ve seen.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 10:29 am Clix

    Major improvement over the first movie. All the actors are more comfortable in their respective skins and the change of tone is expertly handled by Francis Lawrence and crew.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 11:11 am Bi0l0gic

    Good review.Thanks.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 3:25 pm Roach

    Just waiting on Friday…..

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 21, 2013 @ 11:39 pm Gumbo

    If you liked the book, you’ll like the movie.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 22, 2013 @ 2:14 pm GreatDuke

    The entire concept of these hunger games is silly.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 25, 2013 @ 3:02 pm Quality Crush

      Here I thought I was the only one who thought this. They’ve taken a terrible world possibility and diminished its impact so children can digest it.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 22, 2013 @ 6:27 pm Halfspin

    Even though these movies are nothing more than throwaway money-makers Jennifer Lawrence gives a remarkable performance. Even her nonverbal cues are incredibly expressive. She makes her costars look like rank amatuers. This girl’s got real skill.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 22, 2013 @ 9:52 pm Nuno

    Not to spoil a movie but the master plan hinged on Katniss being electrocuted by lightening?

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 23, 2013 @ 11:08 am Cosmic_Sounds

    Listen up, J Law was good, but Stanley Tucci was great. The guy had me in stitches the whole time he was on camera.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 27, 2013 @ 6:24 pm Marie

      Fucker has some white teeth for sure!

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 23, 2013 @ 5:19 pm E12

    So good….

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