Yes, I know it’s technically The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Shoot me.
As with yesterday’s Breakfast Club, Catching Fire gets a very respectable 7.9 stars on IMDb. Nominated for a Golden Globe (albeit only for Best Original Song). At nearly two and half hours, it’s overlong (according to my perfect movie theory), but to be fair, the story trundles along nicely.
After the events of The Hunger Games, we catch up with Katniss and Peeta as they undertake the Victor’s Tour of the districts. Their… somewhat unusual win in the 74th Hunger Games has led to unrest and President Snow is keen to quash the imminent rebellion.
Cue the 75th Hunger Games and a twist on proceedings known as the Quarter Quell, in which Snow decides to hold a Hunger Games where previous winners will compete again… Ooh, you dastardly dastard, you.
I must confess that I’d not read the second book in the trilogy before seeing this movie. I read the first book some years ago and utterly lost myself in the story, devouring it almost in a single sitting. Not sure why I didn’t read the others (something shiny came up, no doubt), but I was keen to see what happened in the movie.
It’s more of the same, really. It takes an inordinately long time for President Snow (Donald Sutherland on splendid form) to decide that dear old Katniss needs to be brought to heel, so engages the talents of Plutarch Heavensbee (the late and much missed Philip Seymour Hoffman – more of him in later posts, no doubt) to concoct a devious scheme to see her off.
The leads crack on with the job in hand. J-Law is on fine form and is always eminently watchable, as are Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Stanley Tucci positively glows as Caesar Flickerman – please please can we have a spin-off TV series of what he does between the annual Hunger Games? I would *love* to see that. Perhaps he and Effie (Elizabeth Banks almost as unrecognisable under almost as much makeup as Tucci) could co-host something?
Along with Tucci and Banks, I *loved* Amanda Plummer’s and Jeffrey Wright’s characters. At first glance, against the bigger and stronger teams, you think they’ll be the first to go. But they’ve got cunning and smarts on their side…
The story itself is fine, but for me the first is better. That said, there are weird things in both which have always bothered me about the actual Hunger Games themselves – why do the kids gang up together? There’s only ever going to be one winner, so surely it’s everyone for themselves. It kind of makes more sense in this one once we work out what the big plan is, I suppose. But in the first film there are bits where you’re just left wondering why on earth you’d go to sleep next to four or five other people who ultimately want to see you dead.
Towards the end I found myself paying more attention to Katniss’s quiver of arrows than the action. It seemed to magically refill itself on several occasions. Look! Attacked by monkeys! Arrows gone. Back on the beach five minutes later? All back. Fire some more, down to three. Five minutes later? All back. And the lightning striking the tree – big boom as the lightning strikes. But the tree is *way* over there. Sound travels slower so it should be lightning *then* the noise, surely?
I’m being overly picky, I know. The ending caught me entirely off-guard, having not read the books, and it’s always fun when that happens. I’m looking forward to Mockingjay, though heaved a sigh when I found out they’re splitting it into two movies.
Perhaps I should go read the books.