The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Second installment of the planned 'Hunger Games' quadrilogy.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone

After reading the books and getting really excited for the film adaptations, I must admit that the first film really disappointed me. Besides Woody Harrelson, no one really impressed me. Plus, the shaky camera shots during the fights, to preserve the “PG-13”rating, only served to give me a headache, and the flaws of the book were somehow amplified. Perhaps I have been too hard on the first film because of my love of Battle Royale, a Japanese film with an almost identical premise, also based off an amazing book; but that comparison is for another day.
​This review is about the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, my personal favorite of the book series and thus, most likely to disappoint me after the lackluster first film. Luckily, despite making a lot of money, they decided to change things up after the first film and hired new writers and a new director. And it helped, because this film greatly impressed me. Catching Fire is miles better than the first film in almost every single way.  
​The film begins a few months after the first Hunger Games and it is clear that Katniss (Lawrence) is having a difficult time dealing with her new life after her time in the arena. Additionally, President Snow (Sutherland) informs her that the districts didn’t fall for her love story, and are on the brink of a revolt that she is solely responsible for. It is then up to Katniss to try to settle things down while on her victory tour, but as things escalate, Snow proves to have a few twists up his sleeves to get things under control again.
​Everyone who returns has stepped up their game, especially Lawrence. Her portrayal of Katniss really annoyed me the first time around for some reason, but the intensity of her emotion got to me a few times in this one, particularly when they stop at District 11. A particularly great surprise to me were the new major characters, especially Finnick Odair (Claflin) and Johanna Mason (Malone), previous victors from District 4 and 7 respectively. Each adds their own special personality to their role and both characters turned out even better than I had pictured them while reading the books.
​The action, while probably more realistic with an “R” rating, is far superior and easier to watch than the first film. While that’s great for this film to be seen by so many and to make so much money, it also adds to the issue of “PG-13” violence vs “R” violence. It’s like, sure, let your child watch someone get beaten or stabbed to death, but only as long as there isn’t any blood. Then, remember you have to watch out for language because apparently a few “F-bombs” are more damaging to today’s youth than fake violence that would actually show kids what really happens when they throw a punch or pull a trigger. It’s all sickening to say the least.
​Overall, the improvements are great, and if you enjoyed The Hunger Games even a little bit, I know you will like this one even more.  While the story is better, with more emotion, more on the line, better acting and action, I feel the only thing really limiting it is the story telling of the source material. Being stuck only knowing and exploring what Katniss does really limits the experience of the complex world that has been created. This is a huge flaw in the first film and book, but rest assured, the sequel does better, but it still isn’t Battle Royale great.

Andy Comer