Posted by: greercn | November 26, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The trains are utterly lovely. If only all the trains in the world looked like those in “Catching Fire”.

Just in case you don’t know the story, two young teenagers from each of twelve Districts has to compete to the death, each year. It’s an imaginary and awful future. It’s all televised as a warning to quell any potential rebellion against the ruling Capitol.

“Catching Fire” is the second of four films being made from Suzanne Collins’ three books.

Katniss and Peeta are back. They won the 74th Hunger Games but rebellion is brewing in the Districts of Panem so the Evil Empire that is Capitol sees Katniss as a threat.

She has become a symbol for the resistance. She has to disappear, preferably having become unpopular.

President Snow (Donald Sutherland in an almost moustache-twirling evil turn) finds a sneaky way to make Katniss and Peeta compete in the Games again.

Meanwhile, Katniss and Peeta are pretending to be together but she’s really in love with Gale. Gale is Liam Hemsworth, looking exceptionally adorable.

Far too few films feature girls who lead the way for the boys. Hooray for Katniss. Pity she’s a killer but that’s what she has to do and she doesn’t seem to enjoy it, so that’s okay.

Is this second film as good as the first? That depends. The actual Games get a little boring. The technical wizardry, nods to the worst of reality TV and gorgeous costumes are even better than before. The excess of Capitol City is in sharp contrast to the poverty of the Districts.

It’s Dickensian in the Districts. Peeta and Katniss live slightly better than most, as winners, but they also have to do what they’re told.

Since we first met Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence has become a great big star with an Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook”. Curiously, she is still believable as a vulnerable teenager but they’d best get those “Mockingjay” movies made fast.

Josh Hutcherson doesn’t have as much to do as Peeta, this time out. Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Philip Seymour Hoffman are all good. Sam Clafin shines in the Games part of the film.

Willow Shields is effective as Katniss’ sister Primrose.

But this is Jennifer’s show. Bits seem to move very slowly, but Jennifer glows like marble. Even when she has dirty fingernails.

It all sets up “Mockingjay” very nicely. It’s delightful that such very political novels appeal to teenagers. The very full Stratford East Picturehouse was mostly packed with older teens who oohed and aahed a lot.

No, I don’t adore it as much as I loved the first movie. But I’ll line up to see “Mockingjay” as soon as possible.


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