Monday, 31 March 2014
DVD/ BLU-RAY REVIEW: HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)
It immediately ocurred to me to compare this to the Twilight films and to Ender's Game to the detriment of both. In the case of Ender's Game, it's based on a science fiction novel (albeit the middle part of a trilogy) but unlike that movie it doesn't water down its source material. And, really, there is no comparison to Twilight which is a cliche-ridden trite vampire romance. Catching Fire (and I also include its predecessor in this) is vastly superior to both.
This series is rich in substance, packed with subtext, drenched with genuine emotion, and feels completely believably real.
As the film opens, Katniss is back home in District 12, the most depressed, downtrodden and oppressed of the 12 districts, though most of the others aren't much better. She's become a symbol of hope to the masses though, as she admits to the President who wants to destroy her, all she wanted to do was survive. Despite that she's forced by events to be that symbol and, at first, even her phony boyfriend, previously a bit of a wimp, displays more moral strength than she does. As they go on nationwide tour to publicise their victory of the previous year and demonstrate how powerful the government is, discontent spreads. So, in order to first destroy her heroic image and then kill her, a new Hunger Games is announced consisting of previous winners which then takes up the second half of the film.
The second part of a trilogy (though the films have been extended to a quartet and may the inventor of the word quadrilogy burn in hell forever) is always the hardest to pull off but this works well building on the first film and intensifying certain aspects of it. It'll be interesting to see how the two films based on the third book do when there are no Hunger Games to focus on.
Jennifer Lawrence is, as I've said before, the best young (under 25) actress around and here she displays as thoughtful a nuanced performance as she does in more mainstream roles.
Two films in, this is the best blockbuster series around: exciting, intelligent, thoughtful.