After both surviving in what should have been a lone survivor 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the two victors from District 12 are back one year later. Now, living in the Victor’s Village, the two are preparing for the Victory Tour prior to the 75th Annual Hunger Games. The two must also continue their on-screen romance for the world to see. But seeing their survival as an act of rebellion against the capital, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has new plans in store for Katniss and Peeta for this year’s games.
Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, this sequel to the hit original film The Hunger Games delivers in every way. Staying very faithful to the book, Catching Fire leaves fans of the book very well pleased. The movie stays very character driven with the characters presented to us. As the events unfold we watch as the characters handle them in their own different ways. Some in anger, some in duress, and some with pure determination to get even. Much more ground is covered in the country of Panem as we follow Katniss and Peeta on their tour. We get a glimpse of the conditions of each district, as well as more coverage of their own District 12. Finally, we given the mother of the games. In this film, when we find the characters in the stadium, we find them encountering much more danger than they did before. This time it’s the stadium itself they have to fear more than the Victors. Running at nearly two and a half hours long, the story keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end. It begins by giving the viewer more of an idea how much the country is changing as a result of Katniss and Peeta’s actions as well as what is occurring in their personal lives and really touches the viewer emotionally. Finally, when we get to the games, the thrills and action are non-stop.
Jennifer Lawrence returns as our heroine Katniss Everdeen, and Lawrence has never been better. Every bit of emotion the character of Katniss is supposed to have, Lawrence knocks it out of the park. We can see the confusion of where her feelings lie when it comes to her love for Peeta and her love for her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But what she really delivers is showing her raw emotions in the Games when her determination to keep Peeta safe as well as expressing her anger towards President Snow. Lawrence definitely gave an Oscar-worthy performance for Silver Linings Playbook, but her performance in Catching Fire is by far her strongest performance and it shows throughout the film. Josh Hutcherson also returns as Peeta, who is given much more screen time and more to do this time around. Whatever emotions Peeta is supposed to sell, Hutcherson sells it. Not only that, but he and Lawrence have great chemistry and it leaves us wanting to see their relationship flourish even more. Also returning are Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Lenny Kravitz who are also given more spotlight. Harrelson brings back a lot of the comic relief, but the wise advice as Haymitch. Banks is able to show a more sentimental and emotional side to her character Effie beside her perky persona. Finally, Kravitz returns as Cinna, Katniss’ friend and wardrobe designer who does whatever it takes to help Katniss on her mission. Joining the cast are Sam Claflin as the tough and cocky Finnick, and Jena Malone as the feisty Johanna. Claflin and Malone easily become new crowd favorites as they do a fantastic job of bringing these new characters to life.
Catching Fire is that rare film that stays extremely true to its original source, outshines the original, keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end, and offer perfect performances all around. Fans of the original film and of the books will not be disappointed.
My Rating: 10/10