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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Score: Perfect 10/10

Director: Francis Lawrence

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire cover art.

Catching Fire

Jennifer Lawrence

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Review: After the events of the first movie Katniss is thrust into a world of puppetry, deception, and combat. President Snow ( Donald Sutherland ) is highly concerned about the conclusion of the first hunger games tournament and how it will affect the future of Panem. Plutarch Heavensbee ( Philip Seymour Hoffman ) tells Snow that he has a solution to Snow’s problems in the form of a new hunger games torment. This causes Katniss and Peeta some serious grief, a strange love triangle, Jennifer Lawrence screaming at the absolute top of her A-list lungs every 15 minutes of the film, and Philip Seymour Hoffman being legendary as usual.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket.

Effie Trinket

Elizabeth Banks

So President Snow is operating on fear. He is afraid that he will lose everything that he has due to Katniss and Peeta’s antics in the previous hunger games. Hope is what Snow uses as his tool of social engineering, but it is also what controls him. For many, Snow is the personification of what many people in real life are afraid of. There is a fanatical fear of the unknown future not dissimilar from the movie V for Vendetta (2005). In the past this type of world was a reality. Dictators did rule over people with an iron fist, but in today’s world of social media, smart phones, console video gaming, ordering anything you could ever possibly want online, having it shipped to you either the same day or the next, clean drinking water, student loans to go to college, buying a car, house, or boat. This ‘dystopian’ world seems so much like fiction especially to a much younger generation. Fiction being the operative word. Gen-Z and Millennials have never really seen such a thing only on the mainstream news in the middle east. That being said, this world of Panem is very hard to imagine in real life. From what we can see, Snow is not the best social engineer. He has no good sense of balance at all. He over does everything regarding society. It makes you wonder how he’s even still the ruler of this land. An uprising was inevitable sooner or later.

Katniss Showing off.

Katniss

Showing off

The film focuses on the concepts of fear and hope. In the Oliver Stone movie Alexander (2004) King Alexander prayed to the god ‘Phobos’ personification of fear. In that movie Alexander says to his Macedonian army ‘Conquer your fear and I promise you, you will conquer death.’ - Alexander. Fear and hope are words that are repeated by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Plutarch Heavensbee and Donald Sutherland’s character President Snow. Fear and hope, moves and counter moves. Two sides of a chess game it would seem. One light, the other dark. These two human emotions are weaponized into tools of social engineering. The problem for Snow is that these feeling the denizens of Panem are feeling must be used in perfect balance. If the balance is uneven it could cause and uproar leading to rebellion or starvation to the point of that there are no people left alive to rule. Fear appears to be a double edged sword in this film. Snow is just as susceptible to the trap of fear as the people he casts fear upon. When this happens, it leaves Snow open to foolish actions that his enemies can take advantage of. He trusts people that do not have his best interests in mind because he is also falling into the trap of his other tool of social engineering, hope. He wants to have hope that he will keep everything that he has and that his future is bright. He is like the preverbal ‘Fool’ who is about to blissfully walk off of a cliff, completely unaware of his surroundings. Just because he has soldiers, guns, artillery does not mean that he really knows what he is doing and as you can see, his world is falling apart, which causes him even more fear. Just a death spiral of insanity that leads to the inevitable.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss Everdeen

Jennifer Lawrence

I like how Katniss suffers from PTSD unlike other heroes who kill the bad guy and go off with their lives as though nothing happened. Katniss’s personality has taken a serious toll since killing people and seeing them die in the hunger games. She seems to have loss a lot of herself, making her personality robotic as result of adapting to her horrible environment. She is still in survival mode and can’t seem to come down to a normal state of mind. Only when she speaks to the other victors of the past hunger games tournament does she actually show her human side. This is also when Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is at its peak. Speaking with so many people that have been through what she has been through helps her to open up emotionally. When Katniss speaks to Beetee and Wiress for the first time, you can see her smile which shows us an upside to the character and Jennifer Lawrence as an actress. At least she shows us a smile this time unlike her movie The Burning Plain (2008) with Charlize Theron. Always having a blank expression on her face is not necessarily the best thing for her display of acting range. That’s not to say that she is a bad actress, she does her job well.

Katniss and Primrose Everdeen.

Katniss

and Primrose

This is great! This film is just as good as Mockingjay Part 2 (2015). This movie does a superb job at expanding the universe of the hunger games franchise. Its not often that we get a movie that is just as good if not better than the first film, but here it is! The movie has twist after twist. The combat arena is very creative. The movie has competent use of ‘set up and pay off‘, not the best use of the story telling technique but suitable. The creators of this movie did a very good job at pushing so many story arcs forward at the same time advancing the plot. So this film gets a perfect score. I have seen this movie multiple times and I really enjoy it a lot. Its not surprising that this franchise has multiple movies and books published in media. Enjoy this one!

See the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) movie review

See the The The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015) movie review


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