This is the second instalment of the Hunger Games series and with the first film being so good; I had high hopes for this one! It did not disappoint. Although when you do go see it, be prepared to be hit in the feels every ten minutes. This post contains spoilers! But if you’ve already read the books, the warning doesn’t apply to you.
There were high expectations for this film. With the first one being such a success, there was a bigger budget to play with. Director Francis Lawrence went all out with glamourizing the Capitol no end, made a bigger set, had more famous faces on board, but still kept to the storyline and didn’t miss out many key parts.
With fears that a rebellion against the Capitol is stirring, President Snow announces that the 75th Hunger Games will feature tributes from the pool of existing winners. Still shaken up from the last games and suffering from nightmares, Katniss is on an emotional roller coaster throughout the film. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing and manages to convey the hurt that Katniss is experiencing, as well as the anger and confusion, balancing them all perfectly. She grows throughout the film as a symbol of the rebellion, gaining more allies and putting more pressure on Snow. He retaliates with blackmailing Katniss, terrorising and killing citizens of different districts when she acts in a way that could spark the rebellion.
One of the biggest changes compared to the first film was gore. Obviously there were killings in the first film: it’s a huge part of the story. But you never really saw any blood or violent close ups. The second film is very different and has much more gore. One scene in particular was where Cinna is beaten up before Katniss enters the arena. It’s pretty graphic and the fact that Katniss can’t do anything about it makes it all the more poignant.
Costumes this time round are bigger, bolder and much more glamorous. Effie’s wonderful wardrobe features haute couture pieces from recent Alexander McQueen shows, whilst the training outfits for the tributes are from luxury sportswear brand, Lucas Hugh. Having Trish Summerfield on board with costume design is definitely a big thumbs up!
A key event in the book was missed out in Catching Fire. At the President’s ball, in the book we see Plutarch Heavensbee showing his watch with its symbol of the rebellion, the mocking jay, to Katniss. From this we see that he is on the side of the rebellion. But missing it out in the film isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can see that if you hadn’t read the book, you would have no idea that Plutarch is on Katniss’ side, unless you picked up on it in his short talks with Snow, which are dispersed throughout the film.
In terms of set design, there are big stage areas that need to be done well on a large scale. With a bigger budget for CGI, the Capitol looked grander and more OTT than ever. I loved it. And the arena was exactly how I imagined it to be when I read the book, sectioned like a clock, filled with green and the cornucopia sitting in the middle of the lake.
My only issue with the film was the ending. In my opinion, waaay too Hollywood. We see Katniss fire the arrow into the dome as the tree is struck by lightning, causing the force field around the arena to break. Katniss is thrown back by the lightning strike and falls to the floor; still conscious, but not really with it. Then all the naff happens. The dome breaks apart, causing the lighting and stage set outside of it to crumble into the arena. It falls in slow motion; a gust of wind from the impact of it hitting the ground causing the top layers of Katniss’ hair to blow silently across her face. Not in a clumsy way like it would do to any other person where you end up choking on your hair or looking like you’ve just been dragged through a hedge backwards, but in an arty, flowy way. While the entire dome is conveniently falling around her and not crushing her, we see the helicopter thing through Katniss’ blurred vision send its giant claw to pick her up. She is lifted into the air (still in slow mo) and carried away from the chaos.
Waking up and pulling the drip from her arm without a care, she overhears Hamitch talking to Plutarch and starts asking questions. When she gets angry at them for letting the Capitol take Peeta, Hamitch jabs her with a sedative and she falls back asleep. She then wakes to find Gale at her bedside, four days later. This is my next big worry: in the third book, she is constantly being sedated and misses big events that happen over a long period of time. It’s like it’s a quicker and easier way to explain it, rather than going through the whole story. I felt it happened too often in the book and I’m really worried that it’ll happen in Mockingjay. We’ll see. But I really hope that they find a way around it. So back to Katniss waking up to find Gale there. He tells her of all the fighting, what happened in the arena and that District 12 is no more. The final shot of the film is a close up of Katniss filmed from above, where we see her emotions turn from sadness and confusion to hate and anger, as she stares straight into the camera. Then that’s it, film ends. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence’s acting is top notch, but I don’t find it very imaginative ending for what was such a brilliant and gripping film up until almost the very end.
4 stars: a magnificent film that reflected the book well, had a number of off the cuff jokes and fantastic acting from our leading lady. But the weak and sudden ending didn’t live up to the rest of the film.
Source: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Reporter: Jess Hawke