Focus reviewer, Patty Papageorgiou-Axford, reviews the sequel to The Hunger Games
For the fans of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, the sequel to The Hunger Games has been much awaited. Doubtless those who haven’t read the books but enjoyed the first film, were also eager to catch up with events in Panem and the story of the two young “tributes” of District 12.
Following their unprecedented victory at the Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are obliged to tour the Districts, unwillingly perpetuating the Capitol’s propaganda. But things are not as they should be. The pair witness scenes of unrest and glimpse the true meaning of their victory. Katniss has become a hero of the people, the seed of a revolution.
Identifying a potential threat, President Snow fabricates a plan to eliminate her by placing her back in the arena for the Quarter Quell Games. However, his masterminded attempt to put out the spark only succeeds in igniting the flame as the compliance of an entire nation finally reaches its limit.
As far as sequels go, Catching Fire certainly surpasses its predecessor, although it does drag a little with the set up. We don’t get to the Games until late into the film and that section is greatly reduced, most of the subplots skimmed over. That said, it makes up for it in other ways and does not fail in conveying the darkness that underlies the story. Additionally, the characters have been altered slightly, serving to make them more identifiable to a wider audience. Katniss is not the petulant teenager we know from the books and likewise Peeta is not the doe-eyed, lovesick boy trying to win her heart. They both exhibit an emotional maturity that befits the ordeal they have survived and the complexity of the feelings that now torment them. Haymitch’s alcoholism has also been dampened down and Gale is a lot more understanding of the unfortunate yet inescapable love triangle they have found themselves in. Small yet necessary changes, but let’s be honest, who would care to watch three teenagers sulk and glower at each other?
Catching Fire is surprisingly full of emotion and will shock and move you in equal measure. And if this reviewer needed one good reason to recommend it, it would undoubtedly be the inspired addition of Philip Seymour Hoffman to an already excellent cast.
Whether you’ve read the books or not, you won’t be disappointed. And the cliff-hanger will have you itching for the next and last instalment.