Anthony's Film Review
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
The second Hunger Games movie presents a story as intriguing as the first...
With any movie sequel, it's always natural to wonder whether it's better or worse than the original film. For The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it's thankfully not worse than the first movie in 2012. Rather, the quality has not changed, which is a good thing since the earlier movie was not bad in my opinion. Also, this 2013 movie isn't a total duplicate of the 2012 predecessor, because there are a few things to make the series a bit fresh.
Before I get to that, let's review the setting. The Hunger Games movies take place in the futuristic nation of Panem, where an insanely rich Capitol exerts power over several poor Districts. As a way to keep the Districts in line, not to mention as a form of retribution for a past attempt at rebellion, the Capitol runs an annual state-sanctioned death match in which teenagers chosen at random from each District are forced to fight each other to the death. These young combatants, called Tributes, cannot escape this barbarity because the Capitol monitors, from a control room, their every move and has ways to kill them if they are too inactive. On top of that, this contest is broadcast as a reality television show throughout Panem, though mainly as entertainment for Capitol residents. The only sign of hope comes from the promise that the winner of the Hunger Games will have privileges in the Capitol for life and never have to fight again.
However, as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire reveals, this last statement can be a partial lie. You see, every 25 Hunger Games, the event is a special event with a unique twist decided by Panem President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland). For the Hunger Games in this movie, which are the 75th, the President decides that the contestants will be chosen from the pool of winners who have survived past Hunger Games, not from the Districts themselves. In the previous movie, Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) won the 74th annual Hunger Games. This comes at a bad time, because now Katniss and Peeta are unfortunate enough to be selected once again for the 75th Hunger Games. What's interesting is how the other fighters comprise a mix of young combatants and older people whose days of victory were long ago. It makes Katniss feel reluctant to kill the older ones. In fact, she decides to gain wisdom from them and stand by them as an ally.
Keep in mind that this second Hunger Games for Katniss isn't a freaky coincidence. This is something that President Snow wants, because Katniss's win in the 74th Hunger Games gave District residents far more hope than expected, leading to some rioting, Snow hopes that, with the 75th Hunger Games, he can tarnish her image, make it look like she's allied with the Capitol, and shatter the hope permeating through the Districts. And maybe then the District people will kill her. This is certainly enough to make this movie fresh and not simply a repeat of the previous movie.
Otherwise, the basic structure of this movie is similar to that of the first movie. There is drama in roughly the first half, leading up to the Games in the second half. There are some familiar moments, like the reality television show, Katniss getting advice from her mentor Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson), physical training before the Games, and various human and nonhuman threats during the Games. but there are a few other things that we see for the first time. Besides what I already mentioned above, there is a notable scene that involves Katniss and Peeta going on a tour through the Districts and giving a victory speech to the people, even as the crowds still mourn their fallen Tributes. Katniss finds this task very difficult because of how insensitive it is. Winning the Hunger Games does indeed exert an emotional toll.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire feels the same as the first Hunger Games, which is fine because I did enjoy the other one. So whatever opinion you have of the first movie, chances are that it'll be the same with Catching Fire. As far as the series is concerned, I gladly await the third and final installment of the Hunger Games, titled "Mockingjay." This Hunger Games movie does catch the fire of excitement and certainly does not burn out.
For more information about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the following:
The Hunger Games Films