The highly anticipated second instalment of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released in UK cinemas this week. Featuring returning stars, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, we follow the story of the two winning tributes from District 12, and watch how the 75th Hunger Games unravels, proving that the odds are definitely not in their favour (again).
Francis Lawrence, no relation to Jennifer, has taken over the role of director from Gary Ross. Ross’ adaptation of the first novel was excellent, but I feel that Lawrence has improved the story, enhanced the characters, the scenery and the overall movie, and stuck to the book so closely that he cannot be faulted.
After a brief visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland), Katniss must visit all the districts alongside Peeta as victors of the74th Hunger Games, accompanied by the ever-changing hair styles of Effie Tricket (Elizabeth Banks) and the victor from the previous Quarter Quell Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), who assist the two along the way. Visiting the other 11 districts and talking to the families of those who died in the games was very touching, especially in District 11 when Katniss addresses Rue’s family, her former ally in the arena. After seeing the districts, it is evident that an uprising is on the horizon, and they all see Katniss as their leader, their Mockingjay.
The 75th Quarter Quell Hunger Games is announced, revealing that past victors must return to the games in an ultimate fight to the death. Cinna (Lenny Krativz) returns to recreate Katniss as the Girl on Fire. Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) is once again the purpled hair interviewer in the Capitol, revealing secrets about the tributes, before entering the arena.
Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the new head Gamemaker, replaced Seneca Crain who was put to death after the previous games due to Katniss and Peeta’s rebellious antics.
Having read the book, I was very dubious as to how they would create the arena that the 75th games were set in, but I feel that Francis Lawrence did this part of the book justice, and portrayed the clock concept exactly how I had imagined it. The actors chosen to play the characters were spot on. Finnick played by Sam Claflin, initially is portrayed as an arrogant bigheaded victor, but once entering the arena, his care and love for the other tribute from his district is adorable. Mags is the oldest tribute in the games, having volunteered in the place of Annie, Finnick’s girlfriend. Finnick carries her on his back and protects her to the greatest of his ability, until she sacrifices herself in order to save Peeta.
The final scenes see them being removed from the arena before the games were over, there is no final brawl to fight for a victor, nor is there 23 deaths as expected. This has set them up for the next two films, Part 1 and 2 of Mockingjay, which will feature the uprising in all the districts, and the downfall of the Capitol. I wont say any more as I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers for those who haven’t read the book – but I must suggest that you do!
The only negative comment I have to make on the movie is the occasional unflattering shot that they chose to include of Katniss, but other than that it was flawless.