Following the conclusion of the mega-franchises of Harry Potter and Twilight, there was a gap in the market to be filled. Various pretenders attempted to lift the vacant crown, but it wasn’t until The Hunger Games was released in 2012 that the successor was found. It catapulted the career of lead Jennifer Lawrence, who later went on to win an Oscar, and after only a year since its release the sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is set to become a monster commercial success.
Still haunted by the memories of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is attempting to reinsert herself into her life before the arena. Her relationship with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has become strained and they now barely speak. Yet they still maintain the charade of a besotted relationship for the capitol viewers who are infatuated with them. The poorer districts are on the brink of uprising, sparked by Peeta and Katniss’ rebellion in the arena. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) unwilling to look foolish, visits Katniss with the intent of convincing her to suppress the rebellions, but has even worse plans in store for the young heroine.
Jennifer Lawrence gives yet another stunning performance, encapsulating the tormented and spirited nature of Katniss perfectly. Once again it is her performance that stands out, expressing the pain and anger of a dispirited district member, but with a serious no-nonsense approach to the things she has to do. Surrounded by a brilliant cast the world of Panem is brought to life; Donald Sutherland plays the condescending and menacing Snow with great conviction, making you feel slightly uncomfortable in his presence. Meanwhile a supporting cast which boasts Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth and Toby Jones helps to bring depth and character to even the more minor characters.
The costumes and sets within the film are stunning. The stark contrast between the Capitol make-up and the poorer districts is highlighted within the colour palette. The greyer, darker colours used in the districts, helps to highlight the poverty and squalor they live in compared to the grandeur of the Capitol. The arena also uses lush greens and brighter colours, representing the Capitol as a place that would rather spend money on this spectator entertainment, than feed its starving members.
The soundtrack of the film is also good, using a blend of music, sound effects and silence to play with the audiences emotions. Especially within the silences, which worked particularly well to represent a numb and slightly distracted heroine at times. The alteration between the sounds also helps to keep the audience on their toes, holding their attention throughout.
Good pacing throughout the film, with a plot that constantly intrigues and engages its audience. In fact it moves so fast, that you almost don’t notice the overlong running time. While the moments of humour scattered throughout the film create small breaks from the political and social issues presented throughout. It’s a testament to Lawrence once again, that even though her Katniss is a serious character, that she’s able to steal the best comic moments.
It may not quite have the impact of the original but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire proves that it is the franchise and not ‘the next’ anything and is the standard by which others need to strive. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better than Harry Potter and Twilight combined and I can’t wait for Mockinjay Part 1.