The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (♦♦♦♦)
As you may remember, Katniss and Peeta emerged victorious from the 74th Hunger Games, but at what cost? People in the districts surrounding the Capitol have found hope in Katniss and Peeta's defiance and Katniss has become the symbol of the revolution brewing.
Meanwhile, the 75th Hunger Games are about to start. Katniss and Peeta are touring the districts. Wherever they go, violence erupts and is quenched with brutality. President Snow has subdued Katniss into cooperation or her loved ones will be at risk, but will Katniss be able to put out the flames of change? Or more importantly, will the remaining Tributes, chosen among former winners, go along silently to their deaths?
Better late than never to catch up on the gazillion movies I haven't watched since I juggled real-life emergencies and book blogging exclusively. I couldn't have picked a better way to start.
Catching Fire is more emotional than the first installment (The Hunger Games) was, and it has to be because this time around the stakes are higher. Everything in Catching Fire is designed to impress, starting with the costumes--Effie's attire is more colorful and stranger than ever, but I tell you I wouldn't mind wearing the butterfly dress if I were fifty pounds lighter. Cinna goes out of his way to make Katniss look spectacular, particularly wearing that wedding dress that catches fire and turns Katniss into a life-sized mockingjay. Curves and muscles are emphasized with the athletic spandex designed for the Tributes, so even when at risk of getting blown into pieces those guys look stylish.
The setting is more exotic this time around: a tropical jungle, but if you think there is no method to the madness, think again; the Tributes encounter everything from aggressive baboons, to poison fog and an electric field surrounding the island.
The Games are played this time using more brains than brawn, and the technique is very effective because it makes us question what Katniss will do to emerge victorious...Will she betray her newfound friends in order to save Peeta's and her own life?
While in the first installment the shaky camerawork imparted dynamism to the fighting at the risk of losing the audience to vertigo, in Catching Fire is the story and the threats doing the narration, and it works very well.
The acting is as superb as in the first film, making this installment a solid entry in the franchise. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Prim, President Snow (Donald Sutherland), Haymich (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), and Caesar (Stanley Tucci) reprise their roles, as well as Prim and Katniss' mother. Instead of Seneca Crane, the new Game master's name is Plutarch Heavensbee masterfully played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, an acting heavyweight.
Never did a revolution sound more appealing than in Catching Fire!