Despite from a young adult novel similar to Twilight, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, or Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire proved to be a brilliantly made, well-paced, compelling sci-fi action drama thriller that's well surpassed the first film, and dare I say, even better than any of the recent young adult novel-to-film adaptations out there.
The film spends the first half of the film to explore and develop its thought-provoking themes: totalitarianism (more specifically fascism, extreme far right of the political spectrum), inequality and class warfare, oppression, the abuse of social media and political manipulation, eventual uprising and revolution, hope, courage and sacrifice, and the psychological consequences of taking human lives. These are the thematic elements that make this film stand out among others.
Moreover, the film further addresses the personal feelings of the hunger games victors in the aftermath of the games in the first film...how they feel as a result of killing others. The film also takes time to further develop the love triangle relationship between Katniss, Gale and Peeta...Although Katniss' feelings with Gale (childhood sweetheart) remains unchanged, it is noticeable that Katniss really cared about Peeta and starting to fall in love with him as the film progresses. This makes the entire film comes across as far more complex, heartfelt than its predecessor.
At the young age of 23, Jennifer Lawrence managed to pull out such a great performance to carry the film and letting the audience feel emotionally engaged throughout the film. Although the scope of the film is getting bigger, the film never ceases to focus on Katniss' feelings, about how she deals with the situation. The set (jungle arena) and costume designs were amazing this time around as they get a bigger budget (Jennifer looks good in the 'wedding' dress).
However, the film does have its flaws. Most of the thrills of the tournament (to see more life surviving skills, danger or traps) are left out in order to develop the story. We don't really get to know the contestants in detail (other than they're the previous champions of the games), they're just there simply to be killed by others due to the tight-writing for the tournament scenes. It is not further explained in the film either on why some participants willing to sacrifice their lives in order to save others whom they barely know (possibly for the greater good as Katniss has become a symbol of hope for all the districts?). Furthermore, the shaky-cam filming for some of the action scenes hurts the film as well.
As mentioned in the title, this film is truly 'catching fire', exceeds expectations and further promises an epic conclusion near the end of the film. Now, I'm really excited and looking forward to see how Mockingjay is going to be adapted into two films (Part 1 & 2) to provide a satisfying conclusion to the series. Highly recommended.
- "Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience. (Howard Zinn)
- Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made" (Oscar Wilde)