The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 23, 2013
The restless camera in the action scenes still makes it a tad difficult to see what is going on, like in the first movie, but what is great about this bleak, intense sequel is that it focuses less on the fighting and more on the political issues, the desolation, the characters.
Super Reviewer
½ November 21, 2013
From solid storytelling to Movie Magic, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" surpasses every standard set by it's predecessor and keeps you engaged the entire time. With more character development and a much sharper script, this sequel feels like "The Empire Strikes Back" of this series. This time the winning tributes from the past years are forced back into battle with each other and they must form allies to survive. This time they are in control of the entire setting of the games and try their hardest to decide to lives and who dies. Straying away from the shaky cam like the first film had, and getting much better direction on board, the crew does a much better job here and the actors look more alive than ever. I have to say that I loved every second of my experience with this film, even though a few technical aspects were pretty distracting. The stakes are raised and you will not see some of the twists coming. The second instalment in "The Hunger Games" franchise is terrific and I cannot wait to see the conclusion.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2014
Catching Fire is not only better than its predecessor in every way, it's a sure fire sci-fi masterpiece. There are great ideas here about hope, fear, heroic figures, symbols, and government control, all of which are explored to the fullest. Great characters, great action, great narrative. One of the best films of 2013.
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2012
I watched the first film without having read the books, but I read them after I loved that movie. Suffice to say it obviously is not as epic if you already know where the story is going, but even still this is an incredibly well made adaptation of the book. All of the actors fit their parts well and the special effects have been given a boost (one of my few complaints of the first film). It didn't give me that same feeling I had when I was watching the first and being introduced to this world, but I expected that. This one delves deeper into the story and characters than the first did, but it didn't have the visceral style I liked so much from the first. This one was more blockbuster film, but it comes with the territory since the first one did so well at the box office. I'm definitely looking forward to the adaptations of the final book.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2014
It is better than the first in every way possible. Catching Fire is a darker and more powerful entry in the series. And as far as sequels to young adult fiction movies go, it is almost unparalleled.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2014
Just as good as the first one. This is such a rare experience -- a sequel that can stand on its own, and delivers on expectations. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" faced a very tough task, as all Part 2 sequels do following their very popular Part 1. It delivered, and delivered well. I am very excited to see how they manage the rest...
Super Reviewer
½ March 23, 2012
One word : AMAZING..!! Never thought that Francis Lawrence can masterfully brought a better movie than what Gary Ross already gave to us in the first movie.. Beautifully executed with the first half for describing the effects that Katniss made while another half describing a great entertainment watch in another Hunger Games.. Lawrence successfully executing the Hunger Games in a thrilling watch with successfully playing with the audiences' emotion.. And for the cast that still new in this installment, I must say that they're all a great cast like Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee (too bad he already passed away), or the woman who been cast as Johanna.. Overall, I love this second installment way much better and I'm too excited to wait for the third installment which is Mockingjay part 1..
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2013
The original "Hunger Games" was an unexpectedly strong adaptation of the young adult novel of the same name. Playing like "Battle Royale" for the "Twilight" crowd, the movie was a huge success; and of a quality that pleased both fans and newcomers alike. Now we have "Catching Fire," a superb followup. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think it blows it's Gary Ross directed predecessor out of the water, but it is definitely an improvement.

New helmer Francis Lawrence ups the ante of every inch of the production. "Catching Fire" is a gorgeous film at times, with ambitions in it's cinematography and production design that could render watching the first movie again difficult. The cast has welcome new additions as well, in a narrative that better develops it's characters this time around. At nearly two and a half hours, the film breezes by, screeching to a halt only at the abrupt, cliffhanger ending.

I thought the original "Hunger Games" had a superior first act, but it was hurt by an unfitting use of shaky-cam that distracted more than immerse. Though "Catching Fire" is more plodding in it's early goings, the filmmaking is of a higher, more cohesive quality. Also, the actual "games" themselves were more intense and fleshed out in the first movie, and more time was dedicated to the sequence. But this is only because "Catching Fire" takes a more character-oriented route and finds unexpected drama and intensity in more intimate moments... through once again the occasional instance of stiff and even awkward dialogue. With character names this ridiculous in their uncomfortable unpronouncibility, it's no surprise! These scenes however are beautifully shot, and are the showpiece of not only the film's technical and creative merits, but Director Lawrence's as well.

The final twist was predictable (for someone who has not read the books), but that didn't matter. In the end, it was apparent that I had just seen mass-market entertainment of a very high quality. It's not perfect and by no means a triumph over "The Hunger Games," but I'm excited to see where the series goes from here; a sentiment reflective of a great sequel.
Super Reviewer
½ March 11, 2014
An entertaining, meatier sequel detailing the lives of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and how the lives they are promised to have after surviving the "Hunger Games" quickly turns dour after the Capitol goes back on their word and instead focuses on taking over their lives and not leaving them be. This includes having them potentially involved somehow in the upcoming "Hunger Games". The beginning of the film is a flat-out nasty slice of satire on reality TV and how enamored the public is with the medium of television, especially when it involves a love story. The film is a little long for my liking, but the direction it takes in its final ten minutes is exciting and not expected at all given the situation these characters are thrown into. The acting is top-notch (especially Phillip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles), the art direction is simply amazing, and the story remains interesting and avoids being repetitive based on how it concludes. Overall, very watchable, and perhaps better than the first film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2014
Slow, but true to the book. Convincing acting from almost everyone. (Ahem, Sam Claffin!) Nice visual effects.
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2014
Amping up the ante a wee bit, the story about the people's revolution against the government goes on with our young heroine struggling to fight the power. More money and star power (I'll admit I audibly gasped when Phillip Seymour Hoffman first appears) than the first, and a bit more refinement, too. The big showdown is yet to come though. One hopes it comes with better writing.
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2014
Decent movie. Worth watching.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2014
four stars
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2014
Not bad, but first one was a lot better. This felt like more of the same, and it's waaaay too long. Will probably still watch the third one and see how it ends.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2014
Being owed by the first part and hearing that it's "The Dark Knight" for young adults, my expectations seemed to be too high to be fulfilled. Once again, they play the game, but I didn't find it any exciting. Just a sort of repetition of the first part with some rules modified and hardships added. It was just about average for me. I didn't find it outdid its predecessor. Having said that, I still look forward to the next part. Until then, may the odds be ever in your favor and this part of Hunger Games be a Happy experience for you!!
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2013
I am not the target audience for this movie series... but REALLY enjoy it.
Super Reviewer
½ January 11, 2014
Katniss and Peeta return to The Hunger Games after she has become a symbol of proletarian revolution.
I did not have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. The first film was an uneven combination of "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Lottery" with a political and economic plot attached to the film like a tumor, but in Catching Fire the film's cohesion is much stronger, and as a result the film seems more original. The reveals at the end and Katniss's victory tour tie the political plot with The Hunger Games, which before bordered on violence-porn.
The love triangle and Katniss's relationship with Peeta still don't do much for me. Less sacrificial than in the first film, Katniss's personality is bland in this film, and Peeta's love-sick staring is devoid of earnestness and intelligence. They're not compelling characters by themselves, but the plot is strong enough to carry their weight. Strong supporting performances by Woody Harrelson and Jena Malone steal the show.
Overall, Catching Fire did the impossible: it made me look forward to the next film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2014
Yes, things start Catching Fire. This is a middle chapter to the Hunger Games series. It's another year and another challenge; the stakes are definitely raised. It's more of a setup for the final story, because not too much develops here in the scheme of the resistance. The actors did a good job. Jennifer Lawrence rocked again as Katniss. The tropical arena with the different time-generated dangers zones kept the story moving, but Battle Royale had it very similar. The ending really comes abruptly as if they ran out of film stock. I'll probably appreciate this second movie more after I see the finale.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2013
It's always hard to make a sequel that can match the quality of the original film. This is particularly the case in Hollywood franchises, where things are on a very tight turnaround and directors often come and go: the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises each went through four directors, with very different tastes and sensibilities.

The first Hunger Games was one of my favourite films of 2012, and so I greeted the news of Gary Ross' departure with some trepidation. Francis Lawrence's career is hardly glittering by comparison, helming the likes of Constantine and I Am Legend against Ross' Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Fortunately, my fears have been laid to rest by Catching Fire, a very strong and compelling sequel which is just as good, if not slightly better than its predecessor.

If there is one phrase to sum Catching Fire, it is: similar story, higher stakes, better told. There's no denying that the story of this film follows many of the same beats as the first, with the selection of the competitors, training in the Capitol, the Games themselves and the fallout from that. In hands that were less confident in the material, this could have simply been a lazy rehash designed to pad out the action before the events of Mockingjay. Instead it genuinely feels like the first film was little more than an opening skirmish, a Helm's Deep to this film's Pelennor Fields.

While the first film was closely tied to Battle Royale, with its politically-motivated killings of children, the narrative of Catching Fire is much closer to Rollerball (the original version, not the John McTiernan remake). It shares with that film a main character who has become bigger than the game that was built to contain them, with Katniss' charisma and bravery threatening to serve as a catalyst for widespread rebellion. The Capitol's response is to up the ante by means of the Quarter Quell, attempting to destroy Katniss either in body or in reputation, whichever comes first.

Because of the nature of the Quarter Quell, with its recruitment of former champions, there is less emphasis this time on children being killed through brutal gladiatorial combat. But don't be fooled into thinking that these Hunger Games are comparatively tame because of that. Lawrence pulls out all the stops to give us a fantastic thrill ride, with poisonous fog, feral monkeys and artificial lightning. But beyond being impressive from an effects point of view, each of the dangers feels incremental, building towards an emotional climax rather than just running out the clock.

Like the first film, Catching Fire includes references to 1970s and 1980s sci-fi, putting its own visual spin on familiar iconography. The training suits are still akin to the X-Men comics, albeit closer to the recent First Class reboot which also starred Jennifer Lawrence. The Capitol celebrations have a very Soylent Green feel to them, particularly the pro-environmental undercurrents in the excess of the champions' banquet. Elsewhere there are nods to George Lucas' THX 1138 in the designs of the police officers, and to Gladiator in the triumphant entry into the Capitol.

In employing all these references to dark, weighty science fiction, Catching Fire pulls off a neat trick. Although it shows us many of the same events we saw in the first film, such as the flaming costumes of Katniss and Peeta, they seem to have more weight and impact because of the more forbidding mood surrounding them. In the first film the flaming clothes were impressive and enjoyable, a pretty special effect which endears the characters to us. In this film, the same gesture is used to express defiance, with the flashy flames burning Katniss' dress into a symbol of rebellion, not unlike Natalie Portman's transformation in Black Swan.

This brings us on to Katniss Everdeen as a character. The role has made Lawrence a huge star, and she is often held up as the antithesis of Bella Swan in the Twilight series: namely, she is seen as a strong, independent, competent woman who doesn't need to be constantly rescued by men or wishes to be entirely defined by them. That said, some have criticised this depiction of her, complaining that she spends too much time crying and being vulnerable, needing to rely on others in a way that undercuts her essential characteristics.

It's a tempting argument, but it rests on a misconception about what constitutes a 'strong' character. Being 'strong', whether male or female, doesn't mean having no emotions or vulnerabilities: such characters are not strong, they are simply unbelievable. Katniss spends much of the film in stoic defiance of what the Capitol wants, but by allowing her to be more emotional she becomes more rounded as a human being. She retains her independence and intelligence, it's just that the obstacles she faces are getting larger, and no hero is truly that sang froid.

Catching Fire also comes up trumps in the way that it manages the romance element of its storyline. While Gale gets very little screen time in comparison to Peeta, the love triangle between them and Katniss is still present - it simply isn't thrust in our face as if all the action depends upon it. Katniss is still deciding which side she is on, and by extension whom she loves, and there remain doubts about how much of her relationship with Peeta is for show and how much is actually how she feels.

The film continues to make the best of its all-round excellent cast. Jennifer Lawrence is terrific at Katniss, refuting any notions that her Oscar success with Silver Linings Playbook would lead to her feel above the franchise. While she returns to Catching Fire as an established star rather than a promising newcomer, she still has an incredible charisma and naturalism which make you feel like you've discovered her for the first time.

Josh Hutcherson continues to impress as Peeta, being a little more assertive this time around and endearing himself as a result. As for the inhabitants of the Capitol, it's a case of more gradual development, with both Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci playing things a little broader so that their celebrity-friendly masks begin to crack under the strain. Donald Sutherland also gets more to do this time, with his President Snow becoming steadily more ruthless and manipulative as Katniss' influence grows.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a thrilling and worthy follow-up to one of the best blockbusters of 2012. While it is slightly too long and its ending is rather abrupt, it is otherwise very hard to find fault with it, on a visual level, in its character development, its action sequences or its performances. Time will tell whether splitting Mockingjay into two films was a good idea, but for now we have a great sequel to keep us both engaged and entertained.
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2013
More epic, more complex, and darker than the first film, Catching Fire is a spectacle that thrills and entertains every step of the way with great pacing and good direction. It is beautifully shot, and the acting is once again strong. Jennifer Lawrence embodies the fear and strength of Katniss, and the struggle inside of her is made even more clear in this film. The stark contrast between the lovely show her and Peeta put on for the Capitol and their depressing reality is quite profound. The politics of Panem are also complex and well depicted. Donald Sutherland does an excellent job as the menacing Snow. Every part of the film is mammoth, yet also intimate. The emotions are raw. There is a lot of ground to cover, but the film moves quickly. It never feels over long. Every part of the film--from the tour to the arena--is crafted brilliantly. While some of the dialogue may not be the best written for the screen, the script has its intelligent moments as well as periods of amiable comic relief (which is rare in such films). The arena sequences are amazing. What also makes the film is the fact that Director Lawrence took off right from where Ross finished---it feels consistent with the first film, though miles better. Overall, the film finishes strong. It leaves you with one of the most powerful ending scenes that has graced the silver screen in a long while. You have to see it to believe it. It is done brilliantly. The film does not feel like the awkward middle film. It stands on its own as a blockbuster triumph. It deserves its comparisons to Empire Strikes Back for being a sequel that is darker and more powerful than its strong predecessor. Bravo! This is one great franchise. What's more, though there is much eye-candy and action, the film never fails to lose the humanity. That is what makes The Hunger Games different.
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