HOLLYWOOD—For those eager fans of “The Hunger Games,” the wait is over. “Catching Fire” the highly anticipated sequel in “The Hunger Games” trilogy has hit multiplexes and it’s a treat to say the least. I was an avid fan of the first movie because it was so intense. Children fighting children, a ruthless government who viewed the violence as a form of ‘entertainment;’ it’s a post-apocalyptic craze.
Jennifer Lawrence returns to the role that made her a household name as Katniss Everdeen, a fierce component with a penance for shooting arrows with precision. She is a defiant human being that brings hope and humility to a culture of people who are scared to death of their government. She sacrificed herself in place of her sister who was initially a candidate for the annual ‘Hunger Games.’ This time around, Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are briefly reunited with family and friends, but are ripped away to go on a victory tour and surprise, find themselves in another battle where previous victors find themselves battling against other winners.
Skill and technique must be at a fever pitch for Peeta and Katniss to survive this time around. The audience will be excited to know that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) has a bigger presence in this installment; I must admit in the first film it almost felt like if you blinked, you missed the character. The movie has a bevy of all-star talent with returning actors Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. Sutherland and Hoffman are devious fiends as President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee. They are well aware of Katniss’ ability to cause a revolution and fear if she isn’t stopped the people will overpower their regime and the control they have over them.
That is one aspect that I thoroughly enjoy about the franchise. Not only did the first picture tackle a difficult subject matter, but the sequel is an evolution of that lingering theme of government anarchy. People in control abusing their power to fixate their own needs; its unfortunate, but we live in cultures like this day in and day out. There are literally many people living at the mercy of their governments without any power to implement change.
“Catching Fire” is a tale of inspiring hope and resistance to unspeakable horrors and travesties that are taking place in everyday society. This is something that will surprise many people who enter the multiplex; to see a picture tackle so many themes and issues at once that will spark a distinct emotion in each spectator is amazing. Yes, the goal of any film is to make it entertaining, but when it sparks conversation that is icing on the cake.
Its dramatic at times, its tense, there are funny moments sprinkled throughout the picture as well, but its message of hope and change resonates front and center. Lawrencenot only brings an inner strength to this character, she brings likability, and the growth from the first installment to the second installment is noticeable in our heroine. She is wiser, smarter and more frustrated with the government that has entrapped her, her family and the people of Panem.
Dare I say “Catching Fire” proves that a sequel can indeed excel over its predecessor? Not only are the central characters fleshed out even more, but the introduction of new characters heightens the scope of the story which is enthralling to say the least. So many will make the mistake of looking at this picture as another “Twilight” phenomenon, and to some degree it is, but unlike that franchise, this movie tackles real issues, real plight in a way that surprises not only those anticipating seeing the movie, but those who weren’t fans to begin with.
By LaDale Anderson