The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (12A)

Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrellson, Elizabeth Banks

After the huge success of the first Hunger Games film, and the rise and rise of Jennifer Lawrence as a star, I was looking forward to this film a lot. I read all the books after seeing the first film, and in many ways the films improve on them! The excesses of the Capitol are beautifully flamboyant and the frankly annoying book Katniss is greatly improved by being portrayed by the charismatic Lawrence.
The political machinations are cranked up as Katniss and Peeta's victory in the first film puts them firmly in President Snow's crosshairs. The pair are pitted against the other recent winners in the latest incarnation of the games, including memorable characters Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone having a blast! Once again Katniss' love interests Peeta and Gale are not especially fascinating and the romances are less than gripping - neither seems worthy of her! However, that is fine as this is not a teen romance film; the themes of power and politics and the girl caught in the middle, are bigger than which boy is the cutest.
Holding everything together is Jennifer Lawrence, who is totally captivating every time she is on screen. Book Katniss is much less ballsy and Lawrence's inherent likability has us rooting for her throughout. The final scene with her face reflecting Katniss' dismay slowly turning to rage is wonderful. Good support from all the cast, but I was distracted by Philip Seymour Hoffman's extreme scruffiness that just looked wrong in the context of the highly polished Capitol. Maybe they could only get an actor of his calibre if he was excused the primping, but he could have at least combed his hair!!
I loved this film and can't wait to see what they do with the much grimmer Mockingjay. 9/10

November 2013

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