Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Movie: Catching Fire

The second installment in the Hunger Games franchise, Catching Fire is now playing in movie theatres across North America. Directed by Francis Lawrence, the movie is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins.

Upon her return to District 12, Katniss Everdeen is stunned to learn that she has become a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol. She learns this from President Snow who tells her that she must convince people in the districts that she and Peeta Malark are in deeply in love or their families will be in grave danger. He will not tolerate rebellion. Snow recognizes Katniss a danger to the Capitol and he intends to have her eliminated.

However, when Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and their entourage arrive at their first stop on the tour to the Capitol, which is District 11, the people flash the three-fingered symbol of rebellion. When Haymitch and Peeta learn of Snow's ultimatum, they encourage Katniss to try to give Snow what he wants. Even after they announce their engagement,  Katniss and Peeta do not succeed in satisfying Snow and he decides to exact his revenge on Katniss.

The 75th Hunger Games is a Quarter Quell and President Snow decides that the tributes from all the districts will be reaped from the existing Hunger Games victors. In shock, Katniss cannot fathom having to go through another Hunger Games.  As it turns out many of the other victors feel the same way as they were promised by the Capitol that when they won, they would never have to face the games again.

Katniss decides to confront Haymitch and make him promise that he will do whatever it takes to ensure that Peeta survives. At the reaping ceremony, Peeta steps in for Haymitch and all three find themselves heading to the Capitol to begin the Quarter Quell. At the Capitol Haymitch tells them that many of the tributes want to form an alliance with them. They decide upon Finnick Odair and Mags from District 4, Wiress and Beetee from District 3and Johanna Mason from District 7.

President Snow now has a new Head Gamemaker, Heavensbee Plutarch, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman who suggests that the other tributes will turn on Katniss and kill her. But President Snow is in for a surprise. There are traitors lurking everywhere.

As with the first movie, Catching Fire was very well done - even better than Hunger Games. Probably my favourite new character in this movie was Johanna Mason played with suitable sassiness by Jena Malone. Movie fans of Pride and Prejudice will remember that she played the man-crazed Lydia Bennett in the 2005 remake. Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland all reprise the roles they had in the first movie.

Woody Harleson was brilliant again as the brooding, ever-intoxicated Haymitch Abernathy while Donald Sutherland was the personification of evil as President Snow.

Jennifer Lawrence was able to portray the raw emotion one would expect Katniss Everdeen to be enduring as she comes to the realization that she must once again face the games. She also effectively captures the growing conflict Katniss feels regarding Gale and Peeta. She loves Gale, but he can never fully understand what she has experienced in the games.

Catching Fire is well paced, with lots of special effects, some frightening scenes, and many exciting action sequences. The game sequences are especially well done. The deaths of the tributes are off screen, but this doesn't diminish the sense of danger that Katniss, Peeta and Finnick experience as they struggle to stay alive. All this of course, simply leaves us hungering for more.

Mockingjay, the final movie in the trilogy will be split into two movies, the first of which is due out in 2014.

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