The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - 10 stars out of 10
When a blockbuster is a enormous as “The Hunger Games,” it is easy to lose the momentum once the hype dies down and the expectation has been set for the sequel. Amazingly, “Catching Fire” manages to thrust the film series back into the spotlight and is arguably better than the first. Generally, the first film in a series is slower as we have to be drawn into the setting, introduced to the characters, and have to develop attachments/rejections of the heroes/villains. The second film is always different because we can get right into the story and the action without explanation, but often times the writers run out of creative ideas by the end. You would think this to be the case of “Catching Fire” as it’s the same story with a new twist, but this series is two stories in one. The first is the obvious Hunger Games in which representatives from each District fight to the death, etc. etc. etc., but more importantly is the overarching story of rebellion against the Capitol. The key to this film is that they use these Hunger Games to further that theme that runs through the entire series: Katniss as a symbol of hope. The preparation and execution of these Hunger Games allows the writers to show the frustrations of the Districts (victory tour), the displeasure of the Capitol citizens (pregnancy revelation on tv), the tributes’ acknowledgement of the greater cause (Finnick), and the ability to fight back (shooting the dome’s force field). After such an amazing cliffhanger ending, we can only dream of what will happen next (unless, of course, you read the books like any normal person). All of this comes together by excellent writing and acting. It is all in the details, like making us aware of the force field with a small event so that we understand the big events to follow, or subtly creating connections between characters who normally wouldn’t interact. The clock concept for the arena and all of the special effects that create the hazards each hour? Amazing. This “world” is so well designed that it gives the writers endless possibilities within it. The acting really draws out your emotions by creating connections with the characters. The scene with Cinna is devastating, not to mention what the tributes must endure. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing again as she creates a blend of emotions and heroics. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is thrown into the mix and, along with all of the other supporting roles, creates quality acting throughout every minute of the film. And it all comes together without excessive violence (in a movie about violence) so that it will not scar the young kids who are not old enough but will sneak into the theater anyways. With a sequel this good, you can only imagine what the finale will be like.