By Gigi LeFebvre
Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to ignore the hype that’s been radiating from the second movie installment of The Hunger Games franchise: Catching Fire. The trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, has made itself at home at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list since the first book was published. Now, its movies are setting up shop at the top of the box office. On opening night, the domestic box office totaled approximately $25 million, and the weekend of release brought it up to $136.1 million.
Many people complained and were put off by the first movie: from shaky camera shots to Liam Hemsworth’s brooding looks, or the grisly fact that twenty four kids were forced to fight to the death for entertainment as people watched. However, many may rest assured knowing that with a new director and a bigger budget that Catching Fire is a film you should not miss.
The movie takes place a few months after the events of the first movie. Katniss Everdeen, played by Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, returns home after winning the 74th Hunger Games with her fellow tribute and fake lover Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson). The two of them then have to embark on the Capitol’s victory tour, where they visit all twelve districts. Katniss and Peeta won the games by attempting to eat poisonous berries. Many people in the Capitol saw this as just an act of love, while people in the districts saw the underlining meaning of defiance. This is what ignites the revolts and rebellions within the districts that Katniss visits during the tour. Katniss and Peeta then find themselves being forced to participate in the Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games that takes place every 25 years. This time they are up against past winners of the Hunger Games from the other districts.
As a fan of the books, I saw The Hunger Games last year at the ungodly hour of 3:15 AM on the day it came out. So naturally, I then saw Catching Fire at 11:30 PM on the night before its release. Nevertheless, I was not disappointed, even though a scene I was anxious to see was cut out. Despite reading these books many times, I still found myself sitting at the edge of my seat thinking, “Run! Run! Run! Run! Run!”. Half of the movie is intense drama that leads up to thrilling action and suspense that doesn’t stop until the credits roll.
Fans of the books will enjoy not only the new actors like Sam Claflin (cast as Finnick Odair of District 4) and Jena Malone (cast as Johanna Mason from District 7), but the use of direct quotes from the books. I found that to be the most exciting thing. Even if you’re not a super involved fan or you haven’t read the books, you can still enjoy the story. The aesthetically pleasing scenery and graphics make this dystopian world all the more believable and real. The performances given by these talented actors and actresses are moving and powerful. Relatively obscure actors and actresses like Clafin will leave lasting impressions. I was exceptionally moved by Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of PTSD, which her character developed from being in the last games.
However, this movie is obviously not for everyone. There’s less blood and gore compared to the last movie, but there are scenes with loud explosions and noises that might give you a jolt. Unless you disapprove of violence and death, you shouldn’t have much to worry about with this movie. I recommend that you see it.