Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 Stars
Bottom Line: A surprisingly enjoyable movie, much more so than the first. Time went by quick for a 2+ hours movie. There are still a few laughable but forgivable moments.
“Catching Fire” is the second movie in the “Hunger Games” series and it is far superior to the first. Alas, the first movie came out before I started writing these reviews so I don’t recall exactly what was lacking, but what has stuck with me was a sense of “meh” with some admiration for the set designs and costuming. “Catching Fire” does not disappoint in the latter. Once again, the costuming is very interesting and the set design does not disappoint.
In a lot of ways, this is just a setup movie for the revolution that we all know is coming. It’s the story of how Katniss goes from adored winner of the Hunger Games to revolutionary leader. It’s a chess game between President Snow and Katniss but it’s also a game Katniss is not always entirely aware she’s playing or willing to play. Jennifer Lawrence is highly effective at playing Katniss and Donald Sutherland gets the Machiavellian creepiness of Snow just right.
I don’t remember Jennifer Lawrence being nearly as captivating in the first movie. Perhaps she’s grown that much as an actor in the ensuing years. Donald Sutherland is Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson gives the most memorable character from the first film, Haymitch, another good go. A surprise and welcome addition to the cast was Phillip Seymore Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, the games master who you are not quite sure what he’s up to.
Everything else in “Catching Fire” is just very effective filler. The Games themselves are interesting but kind of dull, filled with silly plans and alliances that I’m sure make more sense in the books than when translated to the movie. The end was a little confusing as the real alliances are revealed, but it was a great setup to the next two part movie “Mockingjay”. I am actually looking forward to it.