Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, and Suzanne Collins
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin
Catching Fire is my favorite of the bestselling Hunger Games series. Since the first trailer released, I was so stoked for this movie. The closeness to the book of the first film gave me hope that this one would follow in the Hunger Games’s footsteps and I wasn’t disappointed. It was such a joy to have one of my favorite books of all time made into such a compelling, loyal, and thought-provoking film.
Though Katniss Everdeen may have won the Hunger Games, the ultimate game is far from over. With rebellion catching fire in the districts because of Katniss’s symbolic moments in the Games, the pressure is on to convince Present Snow she is more of an ally than a threat. When she is unable to convince Snow that her love sickness for Peeta compelled her to act out in the Games, Katniss and Peeta are both reaped for the 75th Hunger Games. They shall be different than any other games held because instead of fighting inexperienced children, Katniss and Peeta will fight seasoned Victors.
Violence/Scary Images: Though Catching Fire is less violent than its predecessor, there are some notable scenes to be aware of. An old man is shot in the back of the head in front of a crowd. A character is whipped to the point his back is shredded meat. A man is beaten nearly to death and a woman has her throat bitten by an animal. Blood is shown on various wounds. There are several combat sequences that include stabbing, arrow shooting, and punching. Effects of poison gas and rabid mandrills may be frightening to some individuals.
Language/Crude Humor: Not much crude humor, but there is some swearing to note. Sh**, D***, and b**** are used once or twice each. There are two bleeped out f-bombs.
Spiritual Content: Nothing of note.
Sexual Content: Peeta and Katniss kiss several times. Partial nudity (such as Finnick only wearing a loin cloth). One character is implied to be fully nude, but no more than her bare back and her collarbones up are shone.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Haymitch drinks a lot. He’s nearly constantly a little tipsy. Some of the Victors are drug addicts, but no consumption of drugs is shown besides another character being given a painkiller for medical reasons.
Other Negative Content: Not really any to speak of.
Positive Content: There are many positive elements to take away from the story such as sacrifice, trust, and endurance. Peeta is kind to everyone he can be and is there for Katniss no matter what. Katniss has a compassionate nature for people most neglect such as mentally unstable Wiress, mute Mags, and elderly Greasy Sae. She helps them when they’re injured and defends them when they’re threatened. Also, she has a touching relationship with her sister, Prim, continued from the first film.
The movie has many parallels to the downgrade of culture, alluding to behaviors of ancient Greece. The film shows the Districts in their poverty and toil, then it shows the Capitol with their oblivious and extravagant behavior. It proves as a cautionary tale for a rich country such as the United States.
One of my favorite parts of Catching Fire is that the stakes are rising and more politics are coming in. The plot is constantly escalating with the rebellion and more pressure from President Snow. I love the unrest going on in the story as you’re seeing small bursts in the pipes as the Capitol system is breaking. The actions of the characters become more desperate, and the 75th Hunger Games is more dangerous than the 74th with stronger, faster, experienced, and smarter competitors.
So many moments in the movie moved me to tears. I cried a total of seven times the first time I saw it and five times on average any other time. The movie was so intense as well with this underlying feeling of dread, but with carefully placed humor primarily from Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) sprinkled throughout. Twists and turns in the story will keep you at the edge of your seat and there are tiny elements only readers of the books will catch.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) goes through quite a journey. She is dealing with her PTSD from the Games, her forced romance with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and the pressure to protect her family. Jennifer’s performance in the role is fantastic. Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) have bigger roles and not just for romance.
The film welcomes new members to the cast such as Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) playing District 4’s sweetheart Finnick, Jena Malone (Contact) as District 7’s snarky Johanna Mason, Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction) as the mentally-challenged but genius Wiress, Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale) as the equally eccentric and brilliant Beetee, Lynn Cohen (Eagle Eye) as the mute but loving Mags, and Phillip Seymor-Hoffman (Capote) as the nefarious enigmatic gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. Each actor does splendidly with their roles. It’s especially amazing to see Effie Trinket and her character arch from the oblivious Capitol fashionista to genuinely caring for Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta.
Trish Summerville does a fantastic job with the costumes, each one reflecting the the districts. Katniss’s and Effie’s outfits are especially stunning. We see these costumes in the myriad of settings filmed in Georgia (My home state. Woot woot!) and Hawaii. In this film, we see more of Panem as the characters travel from district to district. And the games are set in a tropical environment instead of a woodland one, giving a different, edgier tone. Seeing District 12 in winter made a great tone setter for the story. The cinematography is done well also with intimate views like with the first film. The visual effects were excellent. Francis Lawrence did his best to make them as realistic as possible.
The score is absolutely fantastic. I bought it as soon as it was available. It continues with the same themes as in the first film, but carries new ones as well for the new characters and environments.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an amazing film. Many people write it off for its primary audience and popularity, but this franchise truly has so much depth to it. The second installment continues the legacy with its talented actors, gorgeous visuals, and themes that will keep you pondering. I highly recommend it.
Victoria Grace Howell is an artist and aspiring speculative fiction writer. She received Teen Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Florida Christian Writers Conference , a conference she attended since 2010, and the Believers Trust Award in 2015. When she's not writing her books or articles, she enjoys drawing her characters, playing the piano and practicing Kung Fu.
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