The second movie in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, is sure to impress and entertain fans of the books and movies alike, as well as viewers just discovering the series. While it is recommended that movie-watchers either watch or read the first book or movie, before this newest release, the filmmakers do an excellent job of explaining the world of Panem and the brutal Hunger Games in a way that refreshes the memories of previous readers and watchers, and explains the background story to new fans.
Normally, a star-riddled cast is distracting or eye-roll-inducing (I’m looking at you, New Year’s Eve), but the cast and creatives of Catching Fire worked seamlessly together to create an engaging and exhilarating story based on Suzanne Collins’ original trilogy. Jam-packed with action, exceptional special effects, and just enough sexual tension to keep the pre-teens interested, the movie attracts a wide audience of various ages and interests.
Fans of the books will be thrilled to realize just how true-to-text the scriptwriters were; there were only a few noticeable variations from the book, which arguably improved on the story and made it harder to guess the ending of the movie. Fans of the movies will be excited to see returning characters, as well as several notable new faces, and the inclusion of homages to some fan-favorite moments from the first movie.
Without giving away too much plot, the story centers around Katniss Everdeen’s attempts and failures to return to normalcy after participating in the deadly and emotionally (not to mention physically) devastating Hunger Games.
“The Hunger Games” are the Capitol’s punishment for the rebellion that occurred 75 years prior to the events of Catching Fire, when the thirteen districts of Panem revolted against the Capitol. District Thirteen was destroyed as a warning, and the Hunger Games were created as a reminder of what happens when you cross the Capitol. In the Hunger Games, one boy and one girl from the ages of 12 to 18 are selected in a Reaping from each of the twelve remaining districts, and are forced to battle to the death in a deadly arena designed by the Capitol.
The books and the movies are undeniably in the sci-fi and dystopian genres, juxtaposing the plight and squalor of the people of District Twelve with the wealth and wastefulness of the Capitol. However, the series has draws that entice viewers and readers who are not typically fans of science fiction. The technologies are not pivotal to the plot, nor are they are not distracting; they merely add to the unfairness of the Capitol’s affluence and technological advances when compared to the districts.
I give Catching Fire a solid A-. With good acting, exceptional special effects, and an engaging and entertaining plot, it was an excellent way to spend two and a half hours. The only aspect of the movie that detracted from the experience was the maudlin love triangle that placed the series somewhere between Harry Potter and Twilight on the excellence scale.