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Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
11.21.2013
7 10
Read JimmyO's review here!

PLOT: Fresh from their win at the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are now darlings of the capital. But, the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is not pleased with Katniss’ fame or the burgeoning resistance movement which has adopted her Mockingjay trademark as their emblem. To destroy her, Snow hatches a plan with new game maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to have a new Hunger Games that will pit Katniss and Peeta against tributes reaped from a pool of former winners.

REVIEW: If the first HUNGER GAMES was a blockbuster, the follow-up- CATCHING FIRE- seems poised to be a phenomenon. In two years since the first film, Jennifer Lawrence has not only won an Oscar (for SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) but also become one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. The charisma that helped make the first movie such a smash is back on display here, with Lawrence being even better than she was in the last outing, buoyed no doubt by the confidence that comes with an Oscar.

CATCHING FIRE picks up right where THE HUNGER GAMES left off, and despite a change of directors, it feels like a pretty seamless follow-up. Francis Lawrence is a bit of a journeyman director, but that’s probably the thing that makes him so successful here, in that he doesn’t try too hard to differentiate his vision of the material from that of former director Gary Ross. Other than a budget boost which means better CGI and more muscular action set-pieces, you’d be hard pressed to spot any major differences in the craft behind the two films, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

THE HUNGER GAMES series if often compared to the TWILIGHT movies, but the appeal of this series is much broader. This is partly due to the material, but mostly due to Lawrence. The books by Suzanne Collins are adhered to closely (maybe too closely as the result is a 146 minute run-time that drags a bit) and while many have pegged it as a bit of a BATTLE ROYALE clone, it can’t be denied that the world created by Collins makes for a good yarn. While I enjoyed the first one, I was surprised by how invested I got with Katniss, Peeta and the rest of the tributes this time out, which may also be a result of the pumped up cast, which includes Jeffrey Wright, a charismatic Sam Claflin and a scene-stealing Jena Malone.

Nevertheless, without Lawrence this series wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. She’s just oozes star-quality, and despite her recent success in “adult” parts, Lawrence sinks her teeth into the role with as much gusto as any of her other more acclaimed performances. She’s able to both convey the brutality of the games by making Katniss a more battle-hardened warrior this time out, which also finding moments of levity, such as her priceless reaction to an impromptu striptease by Malone in an elevator.

The other actors are also quite good, with Hutcherson making for a likable Peeta. I’ve been rough on Liam Hemsworth in reviews of this other movies, but he suits the part of Gale Hawthorne, although whether he’s ultimately up to the part will be decided by the bigger role he’ll play in MOCKINGJAY. Stanley Tucci is back to camp it up as Hunger Games host Caesar Flickerman (although his cohort from the first film, Toby Jones only gets a quick cameo), while Elizabeth Banks somehow manages to imbue the cartoonish Effie Trinket-with her outlandish outfits and hair- with some humanity. Woody Harrelson also returns as Haymitch, the former victor turned mentor for Katniss and Peeta, while Sutherland is appropriately cruel as President Snow.

The series is given a boost of gravitas by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the new game maker Plutarch, and unlike the other Capitol players, doesn’t have to contend with outlandish hair and makeup. Hoffman admirably underplays the part, making him a tough character to pin down, which suits the part and should continue on through the next two films. Sam Claflin, as former winner Finnick Odair, is ideally cast in a surprisingly meaty part, and is no doubt another heartthrob in the making for the series’ core young female fan base. He’s actually pretty good here; the only downside being that he somewhat overwhelms Hutcherson thanks to his undeniable chemistry with Lawrence.

In the end, whether or not you’ll like CATCHING FIRE depends on what you thought of the first film. If you enjoyed it, you’ll obviously like this one too as its maybe even a bit better. While it’s not the most original series ever, it’s a very entertaining one, and it can’t be denied that the series is tailor-made for Lawrence, whose career as a superstar will likely continue on long after the series has ended.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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11:45AM on 11/24/2013
A little bit better than the first movie. I give the first one 6/10. Catching Fire I give a 7/10. I thought this one was a bit more entertaining and the pace flowed along just right.
A little bit better than the first movie. I give the first one 6/10. Catching Fire I give a 7/10. I thought this one was a bit more entertaining and the pace flowed along just right.
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4:33PM on 11/23/2013
9/10 for me. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie- it really took the time to immerse you in the mythology of the series. I would definitely say it's better than the first film. The visual effects where better this time around, I like the new updated peacekeeper soldier armor too.

It certainly feels like the "Empire Strikes Back" for the series.
9/10 for me. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie- it really took the time to immerse you in the mythology of the series. I would definitely say it's better than the first film. The visual effects where better this time around, I like the new updated peacekeeper soldier armor too.

It certainly feels like the "Empire Strikes Back" for the series.
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+2
1:49AM on 11/23/2013
Honestly, the first movie was so badly shot (extreme close ups of everyone shot from underneath their chins looking up, shaky cam, zero wide shots) that I was going to write this whole series off because of it. After hearing that this one was getting good reviews based on how different it was from the first movie (ie. you could actually see the action, the characters were given scenes with more depth, etc.), I gave it a shot and saw it this afternoon. If they had started with this director at
Honestly, the first movie was so badly shot (extreme close ups of everyone shot from underneath their chins looking up, shaky cam, zero wide shots) that I was going to write this whole series off because of it. After hearing that this one was getting good reviews based on how different it was from the first movie (ie. you could actually see the action, the characters were given scenes with more depth, etc.), I gave it a shot and saw it this afternoon. If they had started with this director at the helm of the first movie, they would have made LOTR type of money. So much better than the first movie, and it's actually watchable this time as well.

Bumbray, all I've got to say about your review is that you severely missed the mark about it being a "seamless transition" from the first film to this one, because this one was the difference between an enjoyable, watchable action movie/love story where the director obviously gave a shit about what he was shooting, and a movie where all you saw was the nosehair of the people going through the motions because the previous director gave no indication of what he wanted from his actors.
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+0
11:38AM on 11/22/2013
the only downside being that he somewhat overwhelms Hutcherson thanks to his undeniable chemistry with Lawrence.
And that's why the so called love triangle doesn't work in these movies. The first film was painful in that regard as Huchteson just does not have chemistry with Lawrence very well. As a brotherly type friendship it works, but the love stuff just was stiff and unconvincing. I really wish they would follow the books on this and not push it so much.
the only downside being that he somewhat overwhelms Hutcherson thanks to his undeniable chemistry with Lawrence.
And that's why the so called love triangle doesn't work in these movies. The first film was painful in that regard as Huchteson just does not have chemistry with Lawrence very well. As a brotherly type friendship it works, but the love stuff just was stiff and unconvincing. I really wish they would follow the books on this and not push it so much.
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8:30AM on 11/22/2013

BattleRoyal

People can't denie that it's a battle royal clone. But that dosen't mean it is not entertaining. It's juste more american,
People can't denie that it's a battle royal clone. But that dosen't mean it is not entertaining. It's juste more american,
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1:28AM on 11/23/2013
Battle Royal is far and removed from this story. The only similarity between the two is you have kids fighting to the death, but for entirely different reasons. Only someone who has seen one and not the other would blindly say they are the same.

I've seen both.
Battle Royal is far and removed from this story. The only similarity between the two is you have kids fighting to the death, but for entirely different reasons. Only someone who has seen one and not the other would blindly say they are the same.

I've seen both.
7:04AM on 11/22/2013

You can

Go suck it Twilight. Liked the Hunger Games.... Looking forward to this.
Go suck it Twilight. Liked the Hunger Games.... Looking forward to this.
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1:13AM on 11/22/2013

Catching Fire…An AMAZING Sequel

Catching Fire is a perfect example of a film that's WAY better than the first. In fact, this one made the first film seem kind of boring. Catching Fire is action-packed and very intense. I LOVED IT! :)
Catching Fire is a perfect example of a film that's WAY better than the first. In fact, this one made the first film seem kind of boring. Catching Fire is action-packed and very intense. I LOVED IT! :)
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-1
2:20PM on 11/21/2013
I have been floored by reviews. The book was a step down for me from the first, so the fact they were able to make this adaptation better than the first film is an achievement in my opinion. I enjoyed the first film and am a huge fan of Lawrence, so this was an instant sell for me. I am also glad that this is better, because the first film had some glaring flaws and even a few acting missteps. Judging from reaction to this film, they fixed those things.
I have been floored by reviews. The book was a step down for me from the first, so the fact they were able to make this adaptation better than the first film is an achievement in my opinion. I enjoyed the first film and am a huge fan of Lawrence, so this was an instant sell for me. I am also glad that this is better, because the first film had some glaring flaws and even a few acting missteps. Judging from reaction to this film, they fixed those things.
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3:38PM on 11/21/2013
I have to agree with "The book was a step down". Hopefully the visual interpretation will improve it.
'Mockingjay' will be quite dark, I expect.
I have to agree with "The book was a step down". Hopefully the visual interpretation will improve it.
'Mockingjay' will be quite dark, I expect.
11:36AM on 11/21/2013
Well the phrase "The next two movies." literally made me shudder, those books are like 200 pages long LOL
The only reason they even have Lawrence is because they lucked into her before she was able to get good roles and now she is contractually bound.
I am in the I thought the first was boring tween drivel camp so I will be skipping this obviously.
And as I have said before Hutcherson is such a douche on two legs anything he is in is dead to me.
Well the phrase "The next two movies." literally made me shudder, those books are like 200 pages long LOL
The only reason they even have Lawrence is because they lucked into her before she was able to get good roles and now she is contractually bound.
I am in the I thought the first was boring tween drivel camp so I will be skipping this obviously.
And as I have said before Hutcherson is such a douche on two legs anything he is in is dead to me.
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2:18PM on 11/21/2013
I have a feeling she'd still gravitate towards the material. Katniss is seen by many as one of tween literature's best female role models, especially when compared to other tweenie books like Twilight. Plus, the series has a legion of fans and makes tons of money. What actress wouldn't want to get paid a boatload of money to play an iconic role model?
I have a feeling she'd still gravitate towards the material. Katniss is seen by many as one of tween literature's best female role models, especially when compared to other tweenie books like Twilight. Plus, the series has a legion of fans and makes tons of money. What actress wouldn't want to get paid a boatload of money to play an iconic role model?
6:24PM on 11/21/2013
While I understand your opinion, don't necessarily agree. Only thing I can really argue is the fact that Lawrence was nominated for an academy award before she was cast in Hunger Games, so there is probably something more there than just a contract.
While I understand your opinion, don't necessarily agree. Only thing I can really argue is the fact that Lawrence was nominated for an academy award before she was cast in Hunger Games, so there is probably something more there than just a contract.
11:26AM on 11/21/2013
Looking forward to this. I didn't expect to enjoy the first as much as I did, although yes, the story does somewhat follow Battle Royale. I kinda view the whole thing as a Twilight for guys, even though it's based on a book series for young readers.
Looking forward to this. I didn't expect to enjoy the first as much as I did, although yes, the story does somewhat follow Battle Royale. I kinda view the whole thing as a Twilight for guys, even though it's based on a book series for young readers.
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10:46AM on 11/21/2013
Well,i didn't like the first one(except the visuals).so,i can skip this one.i know iam in the minority
Well,i didn't like the first one(except the visuals).so,i can skip this one.i know iam in the minority
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10:41AM on 11/21/2013
It's a good film. It's meaty and there's a lot going on; it's a good hour and a half before the 75th Hunger Games start but the set-up doesn't feel boring. Also, with almost twice the budget of the first film, production values have improved. The main thing is that it's very much a "part 2", so you will need to have seen the first film and it doesn't wrap up neatly, ending with a cliffhanger into Mockingjay Part 1.
It's a good film. It's meaty and there's a lot going on; it's a good hour and a half before the 75th Hunger Games start but the set-up doesn't feel boring. Also, with almost twice the budget of the first film, production values have improved. The main thing is that it's very much a "part 2", so you will need to have seen the first film and it doesn't wrap up neatly, ending with a cliffhanger into Mockingjay Part 1.
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-3
10:37AM on 11/21/2013
I feel like I can deny that this was tailer made for her, bc the books were so popular, but sure-she def makes the movie better
I feel like I can deny that this was tailer made for her, bc the books were so popular, but sure-she def makes the movie better
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