DVD Review: Hunger Games: Catching Fire
If you’ve read the book or seen the first movie the storyline doesn’t need too much elaboration. After our heroes won their battle for survival in the first movie they have created a world of fans hungry for liberation from an elitist government and a series of enemies in the upper echelons of power. Just when the spoils of winning the Hunger Games seem to involve good food and being a political puppet the 75th celebration of the Hunger Games are used as an excuse for the rules to change and our heroes are thrust back into play with a group of past winners.
The split romance at the core of the story is more developed in this outing. Readers and non-readers alike are wanting to see who Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) will end up with. In this corner weighing in at towering level of Australian buffness is Gale (Liam Hemsworth) while the Thinking Man’s romantic lead comes in the form of Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). No spoilers here but lets just say opinions are now swayed on which way Katniss should move.
Lawrence is an intense young actress which shows in many of her scenes. Justifiably she is being compared because of her recent performances to a young Meryl Streep. Sometimes the strength she brings however is out of kilter with her onscreen partners but she definitely keeps you focussed on the ever apparent danger faced within and without the Hunger Games arena.
This time we see a change of director and writer meaning two key ingredients in the recipe have been dabbled with. Gary Ross pulled out of directing the second installment and along with Suzanne Collins he had also created the screenplay for the initial outing so a new writer was needed. Enter France Lawrence as Director with action fantasy movies like Constantine and I Am Legend behind him as well as the romantic drama Water for Elephants. He has signed up for Catching Fire and the third book Mocking Jay which is being developed as two films.
The screenplay ended up being a tag team approach between Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and Michael Arndt (Oblivion, Brave, Little Miss Sunshine). The dialogue and the action sequences seemed to benefit from this, resulting in some scares along the way.
Our regular cast continue with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Stanley Tucci as Caesar, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Lenny Kravitz as designer Cinna. Of course Donald Sutherland is superb as President Snow giving a soft menace to the dictator at large. New cast members include UK actor Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee.
All up I think many will agree that Hunger Games: Catching Fire lived up to expectations. It was enjoyable, intense and occasionally funny. The ending will make you wish you could tune in next week for another episode but at the moment Mocking Jay: Part 1 will come to the cinemas around and the end of the year, and DVD sometime in 2015.
Rating: M Violence.
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