Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins

Composer: James Newton Howard

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Clair, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Bundy, Nelson Ascencio, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Every revolution begins with a spark.

Plot: Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) took me by surprise.  I went in preparing for a blatant rip-off of BATTLE ROYALE (2000).  There are enough similarities between the two films to cry fowl but HG succeeds by giving us a much bigger world to play in with a lot more ideas to think about.  Now two years later we have the middle of the three films (although I'm sure they're going to follow the current trend and split the final book into two films to milk the shit out of this franchise).  It's no EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) as far as middle stories go but it is enjoyable and a nice set-up for the next and final chapter in this series.

One thing I liked about the first film is the introduction into this distopian world and the concepts and workings of the games.  During the games themselves there was a lot of back and forth between what was going on and the in-film viewing audience's participation.  With this film you don't get that.  Yes, we're already established in the goings-on of the games but the focus is strictly on the participants and nothing else.  The performances are great.  Sutherland is superb as the baddie and it's nice to see his role expanded, Hoffman is fantastic as always, Jennifer Lawrence rocks as Katniss and so on.  Then you've got the unusual but wonderful pairing of Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright as previous HG winners and current contestants.  Delightful.  And I can't leave out the outrageously fun Stanley Tucci.  I was running on little sleep when I saw the special sneak preview last night which may have lead to my lackluster enjoyment and praise of the film but at two and a half hours long, it was a lot to take.  And for a run time such as this it seemed like the story could have been told in an easy two hours.  My tired eyes could have contributed to that so I'm not going to hold to closely to that until after I see it again.  I haven't read the books so I'm not qualified to say anything to that but it's a good and worthy sequel to a good film.  I would have preferred it better executed and a bit shorter.

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