I Saw A Film Today… Catching Fire

catching-fire-imax-poster-610x903I really love Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe she just has a good agent who found an untapped niche, but she is one of the most earthy and genuine actresses to come along in years. And it helps she is also one of the most talented. Many like her come and fade away from the limelight. Olivia Thirlby comes to mind, yet maybe we will see her once again as Judge Anderson if a sequel to Dredd ever gets made. Regardless, Ms. Lawrence’ enjoyable goofiness I’m sure will continue to grace us for years to come, even after the end of the Hunger Games theatrically ends. Although the studios are trying to extent that period of time by taking a page out of The Hobbit playbook and splitting the final book into two movies. The almighty power of the dollar shouldn’t be underrated.

Catching Fire picks right up months after the events of the first film. Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) is preparing for a victors tour with her faux beau Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). But after the events of the games, Katniss has started something she never expected- an uprising within the other eleven districts. This fact has not gone past President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who makes it clear that unless Katniss can calm the revolution building against him, there will be hell to pay.

When this fails, Snow decides that it’s time for the previous victors of the Hunger Games need to fight one another in a special game. And guess who is to participate?

Catching Fire is a real smorgasbord of just about everything you expect from a film in this genre. Is it anything original or inspired? No. A Dystopian post-apocalyptic nation run by the tyrannical rich isn’t exactly fresh material, but don’t tell the fandom that. Those are fighting words.

But you get what you expect from this well crafted young adult tale. There is enough love triangle drama to satisfy the fluttering hearts of the Twilight fans. There is enough feminine empowerment to make dim-witted men nervous. And when you do finally get to the hunger games, there are biblical levels of mayhem and death. Only thing missing was a sacrificial lamb. Then again, you could argue that there were a few metaphorical ones.

Director Francis Lawrence takes this feast of emotions, action, and themes and produces a slickly made film. While the rough hand-held cinematography of director Gary Ross (from The Hunger Games) is mildly missed here, Lawrence still retains the almost voyeuristic rhythm and pace from the previous film. The portion that actually takes place in the games is barely a quarter of the film, which I’ve heard is upsetting for some, but the pace and sharpness of this film is never wavering.

The cast is really the glue of this film. Jennifer Lawrence, minus whatever I’ve already said, is the heart and soul of this film. She’s more relaxed and precise in this film than the original. Same could be said about Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, and the character development of Elizabeth Banks’ Effie.

There are great additions to this franchise also, most notably Jena Malone. I’ve always found her to be an extremely underrated actress and I’m glad she is receiving some love, at least from the fandom. The rest of the supporting cast, which touts the talents of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, and Stanley Tucci, you’re bound to have a moment or two of magic.

Catching Fire is far from original, but it is an enjoyable popcorn flick. Now to wait for part one of Mockingjay…because, you know, the book was so long and warrants being split in two.

Verdict: See it!

*Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, and a suggestion situation and language. 146 minutes. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine, Water for Elephants).

** Thanks to my friend Cody for watching this with me.

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One Response to “I Saw A Film Today… Catching Fire”

  1. Joanne P. Foster Says:

    Kevin! You have a beautiful way with words. I always love reading your reviews.

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