Movie Review: The Hunger Games- Catching Fire

Sequel to the renowned blockbuster The Hunger Games, based on the Suzanne Collins novel, Catching Fire continues where the story left off: With the victors of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) traveling back to their home town of District 12, where they enjoy the luxuries of the Victor's Village. But when the ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland) threatens their lives as well as their families, Katniss and Peeta must continue to express their false relationship with each other in order to fool Snow and the entire Capitol. Then, as the Quarter Quell, the 75th anniversary of the Games, arrives, the previous victors from all 12 districts must reenter the Games for one last fight to the death. This fight will ultimately lead to the spark of a secret rebellion that will bring the Capitol, its villainous rulers, and the Hunger Games itself to ashes forever.

After 2012, The Hunger Games was a tough act to follow. From the bestselling trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games hit theaters and the world exploded, with fans from all over the world instantly loving the film and begging for more. And for a tough act to follow, this Hunger Games sequel definitely delivered. Continuing where the first book left off, we see our main characters, Katniss and Peeta, the new victors of the Hunger Games, scarred and changed by the horrors within the arena. Now being forced to love each other for the entertainment of the Capitol, "girl on fire" Katniss and baker Peeta must do whatever is necessary to keep the President and his people fooled of their false love (even if that means risking one of their lives for the other). Overall, I thought the film was a great introduction to the coming revolution between the districts and the corrupt Capitol, beginning with the vial attempt of suicide by berries at the end of the 74th Games and then the ultimate dismantling of the Capitol's most priced possession of entertainment, all at the hands of a single, rather shocking, arrow.

The cast of the film was the most unique one I've seen in a while, made perfectly to go with the number of odd and interesting characters that populate the book. Beginning with the returning cast of "girl on fire" Katniss Everdeen (played by the multi-talented Jennifer Lawrence), baker-boy Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Haymitch (the sarcastically funny Woody Harrelson), Katniss' life-long friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), and the colorful Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), along with Cinna, Caesar, and Snow, this cast once again shined with their cool looks and much-needed roles in the film, especially the main victors, who once again enter the Games to take back the title. A few members of the returning cast I loved in the film were Jennifer Lawrence, who stole the show as the main character and became the secret pawn in the ultimate endgame for the Capitol, and of course Caesar Flickerman, the host and announcer during the Hunger Games who interviews the tributes in the most comedic way. Now, onto the new characters of the film, from the past victors to the newest threats to the citizens within the districts: the characters I found most interesting were ladies-man Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), tech-wizard Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright), and the odd and intelligent Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). These were some of the coolest characters in the film, with their odd personalities and extraordinary talents. Claflin, who began his career with films like the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean film and Snow White and the Huntsman, brought an interesting look and feel to the character of Finnick Odair, being a sort-of sex symbol for his district, along with being quite intelligent. One other victor who competed in the Games was technology master Beetee Latier, played by Jeffrey Wright, who came off a little sadistic or crazy in the film, but ultimately proved in the end that he was a force to be reckoned with. His character will surely be fun to watch in the coming sequels. Then there's Jena Malone, who played the villainous yet gentle Johanna Mason, a character who has gained fame in the media quite a lot following the film's release. Her charismatic and sharp nature made it seem like she would be a mass murderer in the film, wiping out whomever got in her way. However, her character surprised me in the end with her unique look and characteristics.

Not reading the book prior to seeing the film allowed me to experience the film better, in my opinion. Knowing the characters from the past movie and book (which I did read), I knew their stories and their struggles enough already to enjoy the film without reading the book. However, after seeing the film, I was inspired to give the book a look. I didn't end up reading the whole book, but after reading the final chapters, where Katniss and Co. are in the arena and struggle to escape, I found that the author, Suzanne Collins, is a very skilled writer. I see now why they decided to make the first film in the first place, because with writing like her's, there was no way this film would succeed. Now with a sequel out and two others building global fame for the coming years, Collins' masterful writing comes to the screen again and again to amaze the audience like it did in The Hunger Games. Excusing my past remark about not reading books before their films, I have become dedicated to read the epic conclusion to the series, Mockingjay, due to the ultimate excitement and awe that the second film brought me. Now, I'm confident that next years' Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, will be as successful as the previous blockbuster films in the series.

Overall, the film was as expected, as great as the first film...and even a bit better. With in-depth characters and a more detailed and awesome arena for the Games, this film was an exceptional sequel, enough to tease us to the ultimate conclusion to the series. I loved everything about the film, from the poisonous fog to the corny-enough love triangle between "the girl on fire", Peeta bread (pun intended), and lonely Gale who's lost everyone but Katniss, his true love.

I gave this film a 9 out of 10, because it had a good thrilling plot, new characters ranging from psychotic to humorous, and an awesome cliffhanger ending that probably wouldn't have been as jaw-dropping if I had read the book before the film. The years 2014 and 2015 will be as big as this year with the release of Mockingjay, bringing upon the final end to this epic young adult series.      

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