Hunger Games was a massive, unexpected hit. It seemed everyone was adapting popular book series looking for the next Twilight. Hunger Games is the new Twilight in terms of fan base and popularity. Thankfully, unlike Twilight, it wasn’t completely horrible and insulting to our intelligence. The movie also made Jennifer Lawrence a bona fide star which we can all be even more thankful for.
Anyways, does this sequel surpass the original? Easily.
I didn’t mind the first Hunger Games film. I didn’t find it amazing by any means, but it was a solid film with a remarkable lead set, in a world I wanted to know a lot more about. Catching Fire bares a lot of similarities with it’s predecessor in terms of its core plot. Starting in the woods in District 12, the reaping ceremony, the train, etc. All the same elements are there but are this time surrounded by so much more substance.
We get a lot more of the underlying political situation this time around and it’s really great. This is a world on the brink of a revolution and it’s about to burst. I know a few people found the first half up until the arena a little slow and dull but I found it very interesting. I want to see the other districts, what sinister Donald Sutherland is up to and more of the weirdos who live in the Capital.
This feels like Empire to Hunger Games’ Star Wars (and I don’t mean in terms of quality. Nothing compares to Empire). We have a first film which stands alone and builds a world. A fun done in one adventure. The sequel brings in the overarching plot, gets a little darker and raises the stakes. Not to mention we end on a note that has you screaming for the next one.
Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as always. I, like everyone else, just adore this girl in every way. We get an older, more experienced, post traumatic stress Katniss in this one (despite being only set a year after the first). She’s the strongest female hero with had in film in many, many years and best of all her gender doesn’t define her one iota. In fact I think 90% of the characters in the series could be gender swapped without missing a beat. That’s what you like to see.
Fellow winner Peeta is back for another round also. I just can’t bring myself to like him at all. He’s a good looking, sweet fellow but I just don’t seem to care. He also seems massively ineffectual in the games themselves. Clearly I’m on team Gale.
They’re surrounded by a great supporting cast. Her mother, sister and home district love interest Gale get a lot more to do this time in the pre arena parts of the film. We get a great dose of Elizabeth Banks as Effie. Banks is another actress I have an unconditional love for. She brings a bunch of laughs and steals many scenes. Effie also gets a little more warmth and depth in this one which I quite liked. Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz (I still don’t know why he is even acting) both return for more. Harrelson continues to entertain as the drunk mentor while Kravitz isn’t too bad. Really him being Lenny Kravitz in a film is just distracting. Sutherland has a great time twirling his moustache and being all round villainous and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is always a welcome addition to any film. The new fellow tributes have are a much more interesting bunch especially Jeffrey Wright, fresh from his amazing season on Boardwalk Empire.
The film has a lot more polish than the first thanks to an increased budget and much better cinematography. The shaky cam from the first film we all hated? Completely gone. You can follow all the action. Huzzah. The costume work is of particular note with some weird and wonderful outfits being sported in the Capital and I really liked the wetsuit type gear the combatants in the arena sported. I’m sure we’ll see them cosplayed on convention floors for many years
It’s just pure improvement on the first on all aspects. If you didn’t mind the first one like myself, you’ll enjoy this one a fair deal. Easily better than I had anticipated. I haven’t read the books but the few people I know who have all really enjoyed the movie too which is always a plus with literary adaptations.
Worth a trip to the cinema for sure.