Why The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is Awesome

This girl’s on fire”

I’ll get this out of the way first: I haven’t read the book Catching Fire yet. I’ve read the first Hunger Games book, admittedly after watching the first film, and have had the second and third sat on my bookshelf since finishing it. Other books came along that I wanted to read more and, before you know it, it’s eighteen months later and the second film is coming out. After just having watched the film about two hours ago, I can safely say that it is awesome and ups the ante on everything from the first film.

The basics of the setting of The Hunger Games have already been said in Mary's previous piece, so I won’t retread that ground. Instead, I’ll jump straight into this movie. Firstly, the acting is phenomenal in this film; everyone is on absolute top form and you can tell everyone really enjoys what they’re doing and are not at all phoning it in. It’s one of the few films I’ve seen recently that have had everyone truly giving it their all and it really shines through. Saying that, the true stand-out performance has to go to Jennifer Lawrence: A girl that seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the most well-respected young actors working today is perfect here, embodies everything you’d expect from Katniss Everdeen and has such a range of believable emotion that I can see her going toe-to-toe with a lot of older, more experienced actors and holding her own. Everyone else in the cast is fantastic as well, though some have more to do than others. As in the first film, some of the other tributes are very one note and are there to either kill or be killed (usually in that order). Of note is Jena Malone, who plays the bitchy Johanna very well and, more importantly, believably. Another stand out performance is given by Elizabeth Banks as eccentric Effie, and she seems to revel in the role, especially when given a lot more time for further emotional depth here than in the first film.

 

Jena Malone plays my favourite new tribute: Johanna

I’m a fan of post-apocalyptic stuff, and The Hunger Games is no exception. I don’t personally need a lot of back-story on how the world ended up the way it has, I just need to know how it is. That’s how this franchise handles it, which I like. It doesn’t spend ages explaining how things got from how they are now to how they are in the film. Instead it simply tells you bits and pieces about the past, which does just enough for you to form a picture of how bad the bad guys are and what they’re truly capable of, and why there are people trying to fight them. Perhaps the one thing that doesn’t ring quite as true as it could is how bad things are for these people, especially in District 12. They’re all supposed to be constantly starving and living in poverty, and yet everyone seems relatively fine. Whether that’s because the film doesn’t spend a great deal of time in District 12 or it’s just very hard to properly portray that in film - or both - it just doesn’t come across as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

 

Some new, some old; most about to die

The story of this film seems like a natural progression from the first: things have gotten more hectic and chaotic in the Districts thanks to Katniss’ actions, and riots are starting to pop up more and more against the Capitol. To stem the tide, the players in charge decide to show that not even the winners of the Hunger Games are untouchable and make an excuse for having tributes from all twelve Districts be previous winners. This film is a lot more emotional than its predecessor and pulls no punches with what a totalitarian government would do to people that defy it. Speaking of which, the violence, both in and out of the titular Hunger Games, is realistic and looks like it hurts. As a plus; it’s also not filmed with shaky-cam, which was a good choice here as opposed to the first film, as it sometimes made it hard to see exactly what was happening. The progression of the characters also feels very natural and doesn’t seem forced, with overarching plots coming into play more here (what with it being a sequel) and it really shows where this franchise is heading as it enters its third film. You can see things escalating on screen with characters developing and the world changing right in front of you; alliances are forged, backs are stabbed and puppet masters are pulling more strings than ever before. Everything is bigger: the characters, the action, the developments and, more than most, the consequences.

Now all I need to do is make sure I read the third book before the films based on it come out…

Til next time, this has been Jubby writing for The Awesome Update.

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