Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Movie Review: Hunger Games - Catching Fire

But first, previews of future films.  Russell Crow is...NOAH!  Back to our movie review.

Considering that I gave up on the books mid-way through the first of the trilogy, the movies have been pretty satisfying.  I was a bit apprehensive about this sequel since I was afraid that it would just be a rehash of the first movie. Not so.

It's about a year since Katniss and Peeta were the victors in the Hunger Games. They are back in District 12 and, while her individual living circumstances are much improved, Distric 12 still looks like 1930's Appalachia. Then President Snow comes to call. By the way, Donald Sutherland is at his smarmiest best here. Things have been rather restless in the Districts since Katness somehow gave them hope.  Snow wants Katness and Peeta to go on a tour of the districts to show how much they love each other (which they don't really seem to) as a way to show the huddled masses that the system works. Under threat to her family she agrees.

Now we get to see how bad things are. In the first movie we saw the stark contrast between District 12 and the Capitol. Now we see that District 12 is very representative of Panem as a whole. People are desperate for hope. At one stop, an old man raises his hand in salute and many follow. The Peacekeepers wade into the crowd, drag the man to the front and shoot him in the head.

In the year since their victory, Katness and Peeta have matured and now have some sense of why Haymitch has turned to the bottle. At one point, Haymitch says "In the Hunger Games, there are no winners, only survivors". He may have been talking about life in general in Panem.

The first third of the movie is about the victory tour, concluding with the announcement of the 75th annual Hunger Games where past victors would be pitted against each other. The sole purpose of this is to kill Katness. President Snow wants her dead as he sees her as the leader of a revolution. Katness, meanwhile, sees herself as someone who as lived scared since her so called victory.

The middle act is about events in the Capitol. Katness and Peeta are reunited with their old team and begin preparations for the new game. Katness is not such an innocent now and can take Heymitch's suggestions and run with them.

The last act is the playing out of the new Game, this time in a stinking and hot jungle filled not only with other people who want to kill her but jungle menaces (giant baboons, tidal waves and poisonous fog) devised by the new Games Master. 

Although at 146 minutes the movie is long, it didn't seem that way. It also comes to a rather abrupt, but appropriate, ending.

If you liked the first movie, you're like this better. If you liked the books, you'll also like this movie (according to my daughter who loved the books). Her other observation is that she found Katness in the books to be annoying but loves her in the movie.

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