The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

This is very much a middle film. Think Empire or Two Towers. Don't look for a build-up or new depth of knowledge on existing cannon, and don't expect a whole heap of resolution.

When I saw the first Hunger games, I hadn't read any of the books, and I feared it was going to be something terrible like Twilight. Well, it was much better than Twilight. The universe that they created for these movies is totally over-the-top in as many ways as possible. As a result, Jennifer Lawrence appears to be one of the few people you can relate to. From the wacky hair to messed up makeup to the overtly oppressive government, the world created here is terrible and jarring.

Jennifer reprises her role as Catniss. She's the level-headed girl who is torn between the men she may or may not love and who may or may not love her. In the first movie, she and her male counterpart from District 12 (the poorest and dirtiest of the districts) beat the system by falling for each other and agreeing to die together by eating poison rather than killing each other. Now, she once again has to leave the comfort of civilian life (and the bit-part of her pseudo-boyfriend played by Liam Hemsworth) to enter the life and death struggle of the Hunger Games. She did a good job before, and she does one here.

Josh Hutcherson gets a bunch of screen time, but his character is supposed to be something of a wallflower, and he plays it so well that he essentially winds up being little more than a prop for Jennifer. His purpose was to be a shell for her to bond to and possibly love, but not to overshadow her or anything. Well, success. He is intentionally as bland as possible.

Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland reprise their roles for this film. Woody is a lot more sober for most of the film, and Elizabeth's heavily made-up, haughty, and garishly-dressed character actually gets more personality and we get a glimmer of insight into what might actually be personality. we never got any indication of that in the first film. The others bring the same performance to the same characters they had before.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is introduced in this film. I won't say much about what he is there for, but there really isn't much suspense around who he is or what he does. Further, he's one of the few people inhabiting the biggest city who doesn't have wild hair, nasty makeup, or even odd outfits. Will he be back for the next film? Not without being CG.

When everything is said and done, the story is good enough, and the production quality is very high. The aforementioned over-the-top makeup and stuff gets out of hand a few times - like on Catniss herself. But, this can be generally forgiven as part of the story.

Story was good
Acting was very good
Directing was good
Effects was great
Cinematography was excellent



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