The wait for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is finally over as it officially hits theaters today! Fans will be absolutely thrilled with the end result and will feel that the long 20 months between Hunger Games and this installment was time well spent. Director Francis Lawrence did an amazing job, picking up on things Gary Ross left out. I have no doubt the rest of the franchise is in excellent hands.
* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *
We start off back in District 12 a few months after Katniss and Peeta win the 74th Annual Hunger Games in an act of rebellion. In these opening scenes we start to see how having to participate in this competition has effected Katniss as she is dealing with post traumatic stress. Katniss and Peeta are now living in what is called the Victor’s Village, a housing area set up by the Capitol for the Victors.
Katniss comes home from a trip out to the woods with Gale to discover that President Snow and some of his guards are wanting to speak with her. She is then left alone to speak with the cunning President and he warns that people of the Districts have started to rebel against the Capitol because of her actions. He also warns that if she does not convince him of her love for Peeta then those she loves will be in danger.
Katniss and Peeta then leave for the Victory Tour in which they go to each District to publicly speak about the games and the fallen tributes. Throughout their journey on the Victory Tour we start to subtly see the rebellion “catching fire” in the Districts.
The tour ends in the Capitol where Katniss and Peeta attend the Presidential Ball with guide, Effie Trinket. Here we are introduced to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.
We then return to District 12 and because of the events of the Victory Tour, the rebellion across Panem is getting worse. This causes President Snow to take drastic measures and he sends heavier armies of “Peacemakers” to all of the Districts for enforcement. In District 12, the ruthless Commander Thread is put in charge and he does not tolerate rebellion. This leads to a gut-wrenching scene between him, Gale, and Katniss.
The next day, President Snow makes a huge announcement about the 75th Hunger Games. He explains that because the 75th Annual Hunger Games is also the 3rd Quarter Quell there has to be something unique about it. Snow then goes on to announce that the tributes for these games will be reaped from the previous victors. This means that Katniss and Peeta end up back in the Hunger Games.
Back in the Capitol, we are introduced to the unlucky victors who are once again tributes in the games. We also get to see the new training facility, the new tribute living quarters, and Caesar Flickerman’s new stage.
The night before everyone is headed back into the arena, Caesar interviews each tribute, asking them various questions. However, when it is time for Peeta’s interview, he drops “a bomb” that even has the Capitol citizens ready to rebel. This is when we see a display of the tributes coming together as one and holding hands in front of the crowd. Needless to say, this makes President Snow quite unhappy.
The next morning, the tributes are getting ready to head into the arena. There is an emotional scene as Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and Haymitch are saying their good-byes. Cinna talks with Katniss as she is preparing to go into the arena and before she heads into the elevator, they too say an emotional good-bye. Then we are in the arena and the games begin…
I do not want to give too much more away, so get thee to a theater if you want to know what happens next!
Francis Lawrence did an absolutely amazing job as director and fans will definitely be happy with the work and attention to detail that he put into this film. It is a stronger and more faithful adaptation to the novel than The Hunger Games. In the first film, Prim’s cat Buttercup was a tuxedo cat, but he was named Buttercup for his fluffy orange fur. In Catching Fire, Buttercup is a fluffy orange tabby. It is the attention to detail like that that will make fans of the book happy.
The performances from all of the actors involved were excellent and stronger from the previous film. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, is an amazing actress and her performance carried the story. Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci are also two very strong actors who are always amazing at what they do. However, I felt that their performances in this film were much stronger than in the first one. Sutherland is even more cunning and sinister as President Snow and Tucci is even more over the top and flamboyant as Caesar Flickerman.
Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth also brought more to the table as the two love interests. Due to their stronger performances and a stronger romantic storyline, the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale was much more believable.
Overall, the movie was fast paced and a complete emotional roller coaster. Francis Lawrence did a great job of including funny moments that would make you laugh, emotional moments that would make you teary-eyed, shocking moments that would make you gasp, romantic moments that would make you swoon, and thrilling moments that would leave you on the edge of your seat.
The production design was stunning in every aspect. From the costumes, hair, and makeup details all the way to the props and set pieces. Just gorgeous!
There were only two major things that I felt could have been handled differently. First off, the arena section of the movie, although very intense, felt a little short and rushed. Secondly, “the bomb” that Peeta drops while being interviewed by Caesar is never really mentioned or dealt with again. It just seemed strange to me that such a major piece of the storyline got dropped off so easily.
Let me tell you, though, you will not be disappointed in the end result! Just like the ending of the book, the ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie will leave you wanting more. Once you have seen the movie, share your thoughts in the comments!