director Francis Lawrence
viewed: 11/26/2013 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
Catching Fire is part 2 of The Hunger Games (2012) trilogy (now a four-part movie series), and it follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, from only a year ago. A year ago, we were still pretty fresh from reading the books and so the books were far more in mind when we watched the film. And a year ago, it was deemed that The Hunger Games was too violent and disturbing for then 8 year old Clara, so she was left out of the viewing. Now, 9 year old Clara got the go ahead to see the new film, but not enough opportunity to refresh by watching part 1.
The only major difference between the first film and the second film is director Francis Lawrence stepping in for Gary Ross and cutting out a lot of the hand-held camerawork that was one of the only complaints about the first film.
Catching Fire starts off slowly, with the first part of the film set in District 12, in the build-up to Katniss and Peeta’s victory tour, setting up the storylines about the evil President Snow and the fascist state that is Panem, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, and the background uprising that was sparked by Katniss in the first segment.
The second part picks up energy as the pair tour the districts, making matters worse, but the film comes together as the twist in the plot delivers that Katniss and all the other former champions of the Hunger Games are the ones who go to the 75th anniversary brutality match. And Katniss has to play her hands right to leave Peeta alive somehow. The arena is the site of drama and action (and brutality) and by the end of the movie, I was thinking again that they’d done a pretty good job with it.
The final segments will be interesting to see, I suppose. I think that the final book was the weakest of the trilogy, though involved and complicated, so maybe the movies will have a chance to redeem it.
The biggest thing the film has going for it is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s practically ideal as Katniss, and Katniss is the key to why the books and movie rise above their somewhat derivative scenarios. Jennifer Lawrence is hot. Gorgeous. And a good actress.
The kids enjoyed the movie mostly. Felix’s review was that there was “way too much kissing”. One tends to forget that The Hunger Games are young adult novels, somewhat a stark contrast to the horridness that is the Twilight series. Though there is still this love triangle. It’s way more appealing because it’s much less the point of the series but rather more a background element, something that the character Katniss is pushing back against rather than embracing.
We ended up seeing the film at an early showing that was also attended by a noisy group of middle schoolers. My kids were annoyed with them. I told them, “That’s just how a group of teenagers act,” though appreciating that my kids are still outside of that enough to see noisy teenagers as an annoyance and not as something cool.