Hunger Games: Catching Fire review
Up until yesterday, my favourite movie of the year (to be released in cinemas, and that i have seen) was Thor: The Dark World. But that all changed last night when i saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Unlike a lot of people i, in some ways, preferred the movie the the book (though don’t get me wrong, i am a huge fan of the books). The movie toned down the annoying focus on clothes and makeup that bogged down the first half of the book for me. It was an action packed, gripping and intense movie that did full justice to the book and had very few flaws. And so, it was with high expectations, dangerously high in fact, that i sat down and waited for Catching Fire to start. After the usual, annoying half hour of ads the lights dimmed and the movie started. It opens with a sweeping view of a bleak, snowy forest. And then we meet back up with Katniss, doing what she does best: hunting.
From that moment that pace is pretty much relentless. Yes, there is a slow build to start as we follow Katniss and Peeta on their victory tour through the districts. It is in this first hour or so that Francis Lawrence delivers much of the hard hitting scenes. I won’t reveal anything but we get to see just how corrupt and dangerous Panem really is and how ruthless President Snow is. Then, once the games start it is full on action right up until the credits. Many were worried that previous director Gary Ross’s departure would be felt, but, as far as i’m concerned, it didn’t even cross my mind while watching the movie. In fact, new director Francis Lawrence pales the first movie and delivers something awesome. His skill at both action and emotion elevate this film from the first and he doesn’t feel the need to shake and jerk the camera around every couple of seconds as Ross did and the movie is all the more gripping for it. The new arena is brilliantly imagined: dangerous and lethal and the action that takes place there is visceral and breath snatching. The special effects have been taken up a notch and the scenes involving the threats in the arena (monkeys, poison fog, etc) are intense and engrossing as a result.
As far as the performances go, Jennifer Lawrence proves she deserves her Oscar and cements the fact that she was born to play Katniss and that no one else could do a better job than her. It is impossible not to root for Katniss. Other stand out performances come, once again, from Woody Harrelsen as Hamitch, Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Elizabeth Banks as Effie. Newcomers Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason deliver brilliant performances and the rest of the cast are equally praise worthy too.
At two and a half hours it is undeniably a long film, but i was at no point bored. Those two and a half hours raced past and by the time the credits role you have barely had a chance to catch your breath and register the cliffhanger ending. Catching Fire truly is a master class in film making and it’s hard to find anything that wrong with it. The dialogue is snappy and sharply written, the action is unyielding, there is a real sense of tension and danger and the actors couldn’t have put any more into the performances.
Now all we have to do is wait for Mockingjay part 1 and then part 2. And until then, i may just re-read the books, watch the first movie again or go watch Catching Fire for a second time.
If you haven’t see it, what are you waiting for, go now!