Review #46 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

Original review can be found on this lovely website:

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Running Time: 146 minutes.

Certificate: 12A.

Synopsis: Set after their triumph in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) become targets of the controlling Capitol after their victory sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. Katniss and Peeta sense a brewing rebellion, but the Capitol is still firmly in control as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games, known as a Quarter Quell, an event taking place every 25 years – a competition that could change Panem forever.

Credit goes to new director Francis Lawrence – there are even more exciting twists and turns in THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE than in the first film (at least for those of us who haven’t read the books). Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson shine as Francis Lawrence depicts Suzanne Collins’ profoundly dystopian universe so brilliantly on screen. Lawrence and Hutcherson stand out in their victory clothing as the Capitol forces them to tour the dreary, grey Districts. Both actors may have grown, but it’s Hutcherson’s more mature take on Peeta that contributes to his firey chemistry with Lawrence.

As THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE takes a more political look at the repercussions of Katniss and Peeta’s victory and at President Snow’s actions, the movie has an air of EQUILIBRIUM with the Capitol’s uniformed guards and the dystopian theme running throughout. Donald Sutherland is chilling as President Snow, but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Plutarch Heavensbee will forever have you wondering what he truly has in store for Katniss’ future.

Visually, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is stunning. Even though she is paraded around like a gladiator and then forced to fight for everything she believes in and holds close, Jennifer Lawrence is simply beautiful as Katniss. From her performance it’s obvious why she was given the Academy Award for her role in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Along with being bowled over by the costumes and Effie’s (Elizabeth Banks) hair, James Newton Howard’s score is more memorable than that of the first film. Yet, though the music goes with the powerful and emotive scenes, it won’t have you reaching for the tissues.

At 146 minutes, the film is a little long. Liam Hemsworth’s accent changes several times throughout the movie, but he does soldier on through and sorts it out by the end. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is one of those rare films where a change in director has surprisingly enhanced the performance of its cast and crew.

Four stars.