By: NICHOLAS BRAMANTE
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is the second installment in The Hunger Games series, based off of Suzanne Collins’ novels. Directed by Francis Lawrence, this movie follows Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) in her struggle against the treacherous Capital. As far as this movie’s cast goes, it has a few heavy hitters. The lead actress Jennifer Lawrence is of course the star of the movie, and her acting has improved greatly since the last Hunger Games, and it shows in the movie. Among others, Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth are two other well known actors. But it is not the stars that make a movie of course, it is the acting that they put forward. From Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, down to the uncredited extras, the acting is an overall improvement since the last installment in the Hunger Games series, and it is felt through both the characters shown, and the viewers of the movie. As far as Jennifer Lawrence’s part goes, she pulls of Katniss Everdeen and she pulls it off well. You really feel everything given out by her, whether its small flickers of emotion in her face, or erratic screams of rage.
Of course Woody Harrelson plays a fantastic broken, drunk man as Haymitch, and Josh Hutcherson really brings his role together as Peeta. As I viewer I felt that some of the exchanges between characters were just plain awkward in the first installment, and awkward was not the intended feeling. However, the chemistry between many characters in the movie is a whole lot smoother, and at times you almost get lost in the conversations, immersing yourself into the world of Panem. When there are conversations between rivals you can really feel the uneasy tension in the air, as well as the bitter anger in each character’s eyes. Speaking of uneasy, the strong love-plot in the movie feels much more real than in the past installment and is much more believable as well as relatable.
The special effects and camera work were put to an impressive use in this film, showing us a much broader and beautiful view of the forests and ruins of Panem. While special effects were always great since the first installment, they are definitely an improvement, and there a couple of moments in the film that are worth a loud “WOAH.” The camerawork is also great, using angles and elevation that show what you want to see of the movie. I am extremely happy to say that this movie is NOT an offender of the now popular “shaky camera” style, and manages to get your attention without making you motion-sick. The audio experience goes hand-in-hand with the video, and makes sure you are affected by what you hear, whether its the deafening roar of a gong or the quiet sound of snapping sticks. Audio quality is more important than most people realize, and it meshes pretty fluently with the tone and visuals of the flick.
Speaking of tone, this movie has a dark one. While this is still a PG-13 rated movie, it is a serious jump from the last one. While teenagers murdering each other in a twisted gladiator ring is dark enough, this movie adds all kinds of feelings that make you sink further back into your seat, and grip tightly onto your armrests. The tone comes in a form of certain seriousness. Events and characters are thrown together, and at times it hits you hard. You really get a good taste of the “this is it” mentality. Of course the tone is effective, but not to the point where you walk out with your view on all of life changed and you jump around, glad that you are alive.
Then of course comes the all-important question. “Is it true to the novels?!” Being a reader of the novels myself, I have to say that for the most part; yes the novels are accurate. As any other movie adaptation of a novel will have, Catching Fire does cut out a few scenes and lines from the novels, but rest assured it is nothing too major. Really, the only way the movie does not seem to be true to the novels, is in the form of conveniences. While the novel may explain a more in-depth plan or a character’s reasons and thoughts for an action, the movie displays it in a more subtle way. You can tell Katniss is figuring out a problem by the expression on her face, rather than a train of thought. Again this just makes it seem like there are a lot of conveniences that come together in the movie that are not explained, but this is the only real detour from the novel I picked up on with the movie.
So, in conclusion The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is definitely a movie worth seeing, fan or not of the original novels. The acting is spot on, camera-work and visuals work well with the audio, and tone grabs you and only slightly loosens until the movie ends. For diehard fans of the novels, it is a must-see, for the average person, it is a good time out. It is safe to say that you will have a lot of fun with this movie.