I actually read all three of The Hunger Games books before the first film came out and I am glad that I did. I did like the first two books a lot but Catching Fire is my favorite. I am not just saying that because I am reviewing the film. I felt the book was more interesting and I had a better vision of the world that this story is set in. I felt that this film would look great on screen. Firstly I felt that the visuals that we were going to get in this film would look far better than the first one. I always thought I would like this film and I am really glad to have seen it.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen who has just survived The Hunger Games and is forced to support the president is controlling an uprising. Katniss feels she can not keep living a lie and despite attempts to convince people and mainly President Snow she is still causing an uprising unintentionally. Eventually Katniss is forced into the arena once again as President Snow sees no alternative in an attempt to kill her. The first part of the film follows Katniss trying to adapt to life after the games and the story of her and Peeta being forced to participate in the games once again. The second half of the film is the set piece which follows the characters fight for survival in a new arena. In the first film the arena is a forest but this time is is a tropical jungle and provides a more interesting threat as well and a more appealing sight for the audiences.
I do also think that the love triangle relationship between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is far more interesting a clear in this film. I also think that Lawrence gives a better performance as Katniss in this film. That may be because the story is more engaging but I also feel that The character has more pressure on her and therefore the performance would be more interesting as more skill is needed to portray Katniss in some intense and emotional scenes. Ill be honest the scene in the first one that featured Katniss crying over the death of Rue seems a bit put on. Where as in this film the emotion really comes out of Lawrence and the other cast members.
We do see the return of characters from the first film and introduction to some new ones. I did really like seeing Woody Harrelson has Haymitch again and I felt his role in this film was expanded from the first one and he had more depth and development to his character. I think that Donald Sutherland who plays President Snow was the perfect choice for the role and in this film he really gets to show off a darker evil side. We always know he is the bad guy but in the first film I felt his role was passive. He had a more active role in this film. A new character Johanna Mason a previous winner of The Hunger Games is forced to take place in the games again. In this she is played by Jenna Malone and even though her role was small compared to others I felt she had great presence on screen and was a really interesting character. I did think the casting of Finnick was quite poor. Sam Clafin plays the role and although I don’t think he ruined the role it was just very different from how I imagined him in the book. This is a minor issue and I am happy to let it slide.
I did feel that the length of the film was decent. Many people say it is too long and I could see it being cut by 5 or 10 minutes but it didn’t bother me. I think too long would mean it was boring and too short would have missed out a great many details that I would have wanted to see. I think the filmmakers got it right when making this film when it came to its length. A criticism of the first film was it took ages for the games to start. The games in this film started quite late on but I felt the first half of the story was interesting enough without throwing us into the action of the arena too soon. I think the first film waited too long till introducing the arena but I do think that film works fine.
I did also feel that along with a better story this film had better direction. Francis Lawrence took over from Gary Ross and Ross felt he needed more time to develop the film. I think Ross dropping out was a really good decision. Lawrence made the film more pleasing visually and something I hate in all films and something I really hated int the first film was the use of shaky cam. I don’t like the use of shaky cam and in a big budget film it seems silly to use. The Cinematography in this film was slick and clean and out did the first film. I think that Francis Lawrence is a better director than Ross. Visually the landscapes and the lighting throughout the film was a lot better. Both films had decent budgets and you can tell that this film was far better crafted than its predecessor.
Overall this is a fantastic film and although it will not be known as a cinematic great it really stands out to me as an interesting and engaging film as well as looking fantastic. Unfortunately the third book will be split into two films. I am personally not a fan of that but I can understand the reason for doing it. The main thing about this that annoys me is that there will be a large gap between part one and part two despite shooting back to back. I am glad that director Francis Lawrence is working on the other two films rather than Gary Ross as I felt this was a better film than the first one but that may just be down to the fact I liked to story of Catching Fire a lot more than the first book.
What did you think of the film? Please comment and thanks for reading.