A review by Nalini Haynes
★★★★☆ four out of five stars
Settling in to watch the Hunger Games Catching Fire on DVD, the minion and I had reached the Capitol when President Snow pulled the plug: a lightning storm caused a power failure! The disc then went into limbo, somewhere between ‘I’ve watched it… I think’ and ‘it’s not on my review pile’. D’oh.
Better late than never.
The Capitol, the ruling caste and district, imposes the Hunger Games upon all of Panem (America in a dystopian future) after the districts rebelled against Capitol rule. The Hunger Games is an annual reality TV show where teenagers and young adults fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses as in Roman circuses. The Capitol uses the Hunger Games as a reminder they will retaliate – with blood – if the districts rebel again.
In the first Hunger Games movie, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteered to replace her sister Prim (Willow Shields) as a tribute (competitor) for the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) jointly won last year’s Hunger Games when they outlived their competitors then threatened to eat poisoned berries together to foil the Capitol’s need for a victor. For the first time in the history of the games, there were two victors.
After leaving the arena in the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta discover they’re in serious danger because President Snow is furious. Katniss and Peeta perform to the cameras, pretending to be desperately in love. Peeta barely knows Katniss but he’s had a crush on her for years. Katniss will do anything to survive while feeling an attraction for both Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), another life-long friend.
Catching Fire opens with Peeta and Katniss estranged from one another, self-conscious because of their public charade. Katniss hunts for meat to support both her and Gale’s families.
Upon arriving home, Katniss discovers President Snow waiting. Snow tells Katniss of rebellion in the districts, warning her she has to convince him of her undying love for Peeta in order to survive and protect her family.
The tour does not go well.
Oblivious to her role as the Mockingjay icon for the rebellion, Katniss does not feel called to be the Chosen One, a refreshing change. Instead, Katniss focuses on personal survival and keeping her loved ones safe.
Collins’s world-building is unique and engaging, offering commentary on our reality TV culture and corrupt Western governments. Collins ridicules the fashion-obsessed before transforming previously vapid two-dimensional characters into caring individuals whose abilities and goals become assets, shoring up Katniss’s position. The movie is fast-paced, character and action driven with good sound, excellent picture and special effects. Catching Fire the movie is an excellent interpretation of the novel.
Catching Fire has a well-deserved rating of 8.3 on IMDB.