The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is much better than the first instalment in the series. Is it actually a good film though? My answer is… well, sort of.

Continuing on from the first film The Hunger Games, and based on Suzanne Collins’ phenomenally successful novels, Catching Fire throws Katniss Everdeen back into the action with the 75th Hunger Games – a particularly special event.

Many fans of the books will herald both films as pretty decent adaptations of the plot, sticking loyally to the original layout and script. Despite being a fan of said books, I would argue that The Hunger Games fell down on one crucial point – the Games themselves are simply too difficult to adapt for the big screen. With much of the story told from Katniss Everdeen’s perspective, via internal monologues and descriptions of her feelings and the surroundings she is in, many pages of the book are given over to tension-building – rich descriptions that lend themselves well to reading but are inherently difficult to convey on the silver screen. As such it must rely more on the violent action.

The Hunger Games suffered heavily from this, feeling like an action film that was offered little in the way of suspense. Catching Fire does a considerably better job at constructing tension surrounding the looming revolution and building more emotion into proceedings while still serving up decent action sequences. Although the second book is arguably weaker than the first, the filmmakers have done a much better job the second time round. However, it remains “decent” and never “great”.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers a good performance as the cool (if somewhat cold) Katniss, but few other characters are as well-developed and the audience is left feeling unattached to most. Being constrained to the plot of the books makes it hard to buy into or really care for the love triangle of Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as Gale is barely featured for most of the film. The film again fails to emphasise the attachment Katniss has for Gale as much of this is internal monologue. That said, scenes showing events outside the Games themselves (revolving mainly around Donald Sutherland‘s President Snow) add to the depth by helping him become increasingly menacing – though never too scary for younger audiences.

Catching Fire‘s strongest element is by far the incredible effort and detail that has gone into the make-up and design elements. Fashion features heavily as a symbolic undertone to the upper class, and my hat goes off to some truly impressive costumes. Visually, the film is impressive and pleasing to the eye – grandiosity and colourfulness emphasised throughout.

As a fan of the books, I would love to be more complimentary in my review of the films. Catching Fire will probably not truly impress someone who has not read the books, and with little explanation of the prequel, will be downright confusing without prior knowledge. Its intrinsic link to The Hunger Games mean it won’t be bringing in any fresh audiences. However, it remains a decent, if slightly long, effort that will undoubtedly delight and thrill existing fans. Whether the same can be said for the upcoming Mockingjay films (that’s right – plural), only time will tell.

3 stars

Are you excited to see Katniss in action again? Let us know in the comments.


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