Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


The Hunger Games: Catching FireIt's been almost a year now since Jennifer Lawrence has captured the collective hearts of America with her adorable quality and humility paired with her humor. To look at anything Lawrence did in early 2013 you'd think she could do absolutely no wrong. As is typical of American culture, her illustrious shine is still amazingly bright, but now we're ready to see what she can do onscreen again. Can she impress us, still? Her first major release of 2013 is the sequel to the hugely successful franchise, The Hunger Games.

In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lawrence's character Katniss Everdeen remains a polarizing figure in the dystopian society of the future. Her success in the previous year's Hunger Games, a competition held annually in which a tribute from every district is randomly selected to participate in a fight to the death where only a single winner is to remain, elevated her status as a living example of the type of courage that is present in the poverty stricken districts of the country.

Her victory didn't come easily, and without controversy though. Her male counterpart, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) also came away from the previous year's Hunger Games as a victor due to some clever posturing by Katniss. Now that she has fully grabbed the attention of President Snow (Donald Sutherland), forces are conspiring to eliminate Katniss from causing any more trouble, but there are also forces looking to join Katniss and her fight for survival and survival of her people.

The strengths that were present in the first film are more pronounced in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Lawrence's character seems to carry the world on her shoulders now, and it's appropriate since, on a weird parallel scale, Lawrence seemed to always be on everyone's mind in the last year in a way similar to Katniss in the film's universe. Her combination of ease and uneasiness with the burdens that are now ever present is handled beautifully. When Katniss has to act confident and complacent, she does so with a smile on her face that seems genuine, but is able to maintain that uneasiness in her eyes.

The cast that excelled in the first film continue to excel here as well. Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz all share important moments and their characters are the foundation on which Katniss stands tall.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is not without its faults. The idea that such an amazingly strong female character is pitted in a romantic triangle between two boys who are clearly not worthy of such a great woman is irksome, just as it is in every film/book from the young adult subgenre of literature. It'd be one thing if Katniss were helpless, and the two choices she is presented with were great men who brought different levels of positivity to the equation, but that isn't the case. Gail (Liam Hemsworth), while courageous, doesn't have the mental acumen to be a great leader to Katniss's tenacity and Peeta is constantly being put in situations in which Katniss has to be his rescue.

The male lead should never be the damsel in distress when the damsel herself is never in so much distress that she can't handle it. This theme of woman having to choose a man in the midst of whatever kind of dismay their world may be in is troublesome and needs to stop.

The Hunger Games: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an improvement over the predecessor. With a bigger budget, yet a scaled back approach to the presentation (I believe someone only says "May the odds be ever in your favor" once, and the wild outfits aren't as flashy) this feels like a proper chapter in the middle of an epic trilogy. It ends at a good point and you won't feel jilted at the cliffhanger ending. Jennifer Lawrence has proved that she was worthy of her meteoric rise in popularity in the last year.