After winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark become targets of the government when rebellions break out. Based on the popular novel Catching Fire in the Hunger Games series
I’m happy to say that Catching Fire was a wonderful follow up to The Hunger Games. Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) who wrote and directed the first film made the choice to depart from making its sequels. As much as I liked the first film, I thought Catching Fire is better of the two movies. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants) took over the role of director not only for this film but also for the two part Mockingjay film. For the most part, everything about the world of Panem feels the same as the first film but you definitely can tell Lawrence made it his film. The one thing most people complained about from the first film was the shaky cam effect. Luckily Lawrence did away with all of that and gave us some awesome action sequences shaky cam free.Lawrence is great at creating visually appealing environments and the Catching Fire set pieces were beautiful especially the arena for the games.
Everyone returned from the first film which included Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. There were a lot of newcomers including Sam Claflin as Finnick, Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, Jeffrey Wright as Bee-Tee, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutrach Heavensbee and Amanda Plumber as Wiress. Now that is an ensemble cast if I’ve ever seen one.
Every single person did an overall good job in their roles. Jennifer Lawrence shined as Katniss and even threw some of her corkiness into her character. Just look at her face in the elevator scene, you’ll know what I’m talking about. My favorite scenes were the ones with Donald Sutherland. His character rules over all of Panem and he will do whatever it takes to keep the rebellion at bay. He can easily intimidate anyone by the power of his words. Bravo Donald. I always get the biggest laughs from Tucci’s character, Flickerman. He is hilarious in every scene he is in and I wish there was more of him.
One of the most popular characters from the book was the District 4 victor Finnick played by Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsmen & Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strangers Tides). As soon as I heard Caflin was given the role of Finnick I said to myself, “someone really wants this guy to become famous.” In his two previous roles in Snow White and Pirates, his characters were pretty much throwaways and did nothing to advance the plot. I was upset when I heard this casting but thankfully, Claflin surprised me and gave a fantastic performance. I was hoping for someone bigger as the book describes but he filled out the role well enough.
In this day in age, it can be quite hard to adapt a book into a film. I read Catching Fire over a year ago and I remember almost all of the important plot points. I think the Oscar winning writers Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) did an amazing job adapting this novel. Whatever subplots they had to cut from the book aren’t even noticeable.
The one thing that disappointed me the most was the score. This film had more emotion and you see a few of the characters have changed since the previous film. The score can drew more emotion out of a character but it had failed to do that. It was upsetting to see that the score from the first film was almost entirely reused in Catching Fire. Sorry, I’m a nerd when it comes to scores but I didn’t recognize any new music in this film.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an astounding adaptation of book and had an excellent collaboration between the actors, director and writers. Francis Lawrence shined after taking over as new director and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the next two films. Jennifer Lawrence is good in everything she does and she shines once again as Katniss. If you haven’t seen the first movie, be sure to go watch it on Netflix and go to the theater to see Catching Fire.
4.5/5 - Excellent