The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Film Review

After seeing the first film in the Hunger Games series, I was very excited to see the much-awaited sequel. While there are some light and enjoyable moments, the sequel is a much darker film than it’s predecessor. Even the lighter moments in the beginnings of the film were decidedly more bleak and depressing, such a stark contrast to the earlier film, which was already fairly dark to begin with.

katniss and peeta's victory tourThe film opens where the previous one had left off, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson) preparing for their Victory Tour of the various districts of Panem. The disenfranchised populace of the districts, the poorer ones in particular, are in the beginnings of revolution, incited by the tour and appearances of the ‘star crossed lovers’ whose victory at the games was a rebellion against the Capitol. One of the most powerful images of the film is easily the image of the old man making the signal of rebellion to the Capitol before being dragged away and killed.

On returning to District 12, it is revealed that, for the Quarter Quell, tributes would be drawn from the existing pool of victors, which meant Katniss would definitely be selected as the only female victor of District 12. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) is drawn as the male tribute for the district, but Peeta volunteers, reminiscent of the previous games where Katniss volunteered for her sister, Prim. This scene is powerful, especially in showing the character growth and development of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) as she draws Katniss’ name from the bowl.

catching fire reviewThe other tributes, Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) in particular, are upset that their lives are once again at risk for the entertainment of the Capitol. Katniss and Peeta are encouraged to play up the ‘star-crossed’ lovers act, which is definitely an enjoyable aspect to the film. Katniss’ wedding dress bursting into flames while being interviewed in the lead up to the games is a great moment to watch. I particularly enjoyed Katniss and Peeta trying to maintain the farce of their relationship while in the arena and around the other tributes.

The games itself are much different to the games in the previous film. The arena is a puzzle filled with various things designed to kill the tributes. Unlike in The Hunger Games, much of the games in Catching Fire is about the psychological impact of the games on the tributes. As viewers, we see the tributes struggling to be back in the arena, and how the games are affecting them mentally. The focus on the psychological adds a darker element to the film that, at times, makes it difficult to watch.

The end of the film is shocking, particularly for those who have not read the books. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a great film that builds on the success of the first film and tugs on the heartstrings of viewers in a character driven story that sets up the next installment.