Film Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire

Like Harry Potter and Twilight before it, the wildly addictive Hunger Games book trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, is being adapted for the big screen. With the second installment released this month, a recap of the original games wouldn’t be completely unnecessary. Or would it?Part two of the recently confirmed four-part movie franchise sees Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, Journey to the Center of the Earth) thrust into the horrific and inhumane Hunger Games once more.In the initial film, set in the future nation of Panem in post-apocalyptic North America, the technologically advanced people of the Capitol exercise political control over 12 surrounding districts. The Games are an annual televised event whereby one young boy and girl from each district are forced into a battle arena—only one survives. The Capitol celebrates in excessive wealth while reminding the starving districts of the uprising from District 13, which left its inhabitants non-existent.This year is the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games and a Quarter Quell, a special celebration that occurs every 25 years and sees a twist in the rules. Normally, all victors are exempt from ever having to compete again, but this time champions are selected from a pool of existing victors.The story would continue no different to the first if it weren’t for the underlying rebellion in the districts sparked by Katniss in her first games. She and Peeta, the final two, feigned a suicide attempt with toxic berries, which was halted by the Gamemakers who feared they would have no victor. The rest of Panem viewed this as retaliation against the reign under President Snow.Sequels don’t always cut it, but director Francis Lawrence seems to have found the key. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is just as suspenseful as the first and the characters; they have matured beyond their years. When 16-year-olds bare witness to, let alone cause death, innocence escapes them. The deep lighting and invasive camerawork reflects this.The main cast emanates a sense of fear and hostility throughout, which not only fits the story but also its core sentiment against political oppression. Jennifer Lawrence is outstandingly emotive as always and seems to slip naturally into her characters worn boots.The first part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is not due for release until late next year. While fans have a fair wait ahead of them, they can always indulge in the novels that have been paramount to the films’ success.The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is currently showing in Australian cinemas.by Jessica Buccolieri

November 22nd 2013
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