I must admit, I never read the Hunger Games saga, hence I am coming into this with a fresh intake. That said, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second instalment in the film adaptation of the Hunger Games saga is a visual treat, a heart-tugging story that leaves you at the end of your seat with the action and surprises that await.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire follows Katniss’ journey from a reluctant victor to the symbol of Panem’s hope and the icon of their revolution. The film follows her conflict as to whether she is willing to be tied down and be a distraction, as the Capitol hopes for the victors of the Hunger Games or be free to live the life she so wanted to live. Adding fuel to her conflict are the men in her life: Gale, the man she wants to be with, but refuses to leave everything behind, and Peeta, the man she has to be with, to ensure the safety of those Katniss holds dear.
The film, and the story delves on metamorphosis. Katniss, as the central character, repeatedly underwent change in her perception and inner conflict: from her reluctance as a victor to acceptance of her fate; from her reluctance to be the symbol of the revolution to becoming its catalyst. Symbolic representations of metamorphosis abound the film. There is Katniss’ wedding dress, and even Effie’s Butterfly dress. These are but subtle reminders of the transformations that the heroine is going through, perhaps a sign of bigger things to come for Katniss.
We also see Katniss face her two battles. The first is her outward battle, the fight to stay alive in the Hunger Games Quarter Quell Arena. Not only must she battle against the career tributes from other districts, but she must also ready herself against those who want to bring her down. Alongside this, is her inner battle, her doubt in herself as well as her reluctance to be the mockingjay, nor to be the tribute or victor of District 12.
Not having read the book prior to seeing this movie might have been a good decision personally since I tend to overcompare the events between the two media, and at times it ends up ruining my cinematic experience. Thankfully, that was not the case with Catching Fire. The story was concise and well-paced, leaving unexpected twists and turns, especially at the end of the Quarter Quell. The movie as well was a visual feast, as production design was great, especially with the juxtaposition of the rural in the districts as compared to the urban of the capitol. The costumes, as well were great, with the fashions outdoing the regalia and quirkiness of the first instalment.
Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss. She evokes the necessary emotion from the audience, be it joy, sorrow or annoyance, towards her character. She portrays so well the unwillingness that the heroine experiences throughout the film, as well as her determination to make it out of the Quarter Quell alive.
Josh Hutcherson portrays Peeta with such an aw-shucks demeanor that you sympathize with him and his story of unrequited love. Liam Hemsworth is sympathetic as Gale, Katniss’ love who encourages her to be a part of the Revolution.
Other noteworthy performances include Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Elizabeth Banks as the quirky Effie, as well as that of Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair.
In reference to the entire Hunger Games saga, Catching Fire builds you up to the exciting climax and conclusion that is Mockingjay. Yet, Catching Fire offers more into the inner struggles that goes on especially in Katniss, which allows us to see her in a vulnerable state. The film displays story and character-driven plots that merge to form one exciting and emotionally-filled cinematic experience. It is an exciting buildup for the things yet to come in the saga’s epic conclusion.