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The Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Friday, December 6th, 2013
Issue 49, Volume 17.
Robert T. Nickerson
Special to the Valley News
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Recently, there has been a big debate whether our current rating system works with modern movies; especially blockbusters and family films. Case in point would be films like Twilight and The Avengers. Both films came out with PG-13 labels. Yet, there are people who argue that the content shown, like the dark sexuality in Twilight and constant death of people in The Avengers should have been given a closer look.

The people that complain argue that the heavy violence in a PG-13 film is not good for children that will be able to see it. This isnít the first time theyíve complained about something being too violent (remember what happened with the complaints about the video games Mortal Kombat and Doom?), though I agree there should be a limit.

There was also a debate among parents when The Hunger Games was released last year. Do I think that the content is too overwhelming for teenagers? No, and for several reasons. People often miscalculate how smart children are, so theyíll say that a movie with killing is a bad influence. Did they not understand that The Hunger Games is about obligatory murder? Thatís different than seeing a crazy man killing people because he wants to. Letís see how much death there is in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Having won the previous Hunger Games in the first movie, Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) have

returned home to District 12 of the current Panem country. They thought that their lives would go back to normal, but they are told by President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) that they will continue to tour the other districts and become mentors to future Hunger Games. But given how Katniss has become a symbol of hope, Snow decides that she needs to be eliminated.

The seventy-fifth Hunger Games is established with the idea that all living previous winners will be hand drawn to fight once more. Given that Katniss is the only woman to have won, sheíll have no choice but to play. She and Peeta are sent back to the capital along with Effie Trinket (played by Elizabeth Banks) and mentor Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson) to face what the new games will be like. They discover that the other victors will be even more relentless then before, all of them older and more experienced then Katniss and Peeta.

Last year, I liked The Hunger Games. I thought it was smart, witty, and actually pulled off a believable story about teenagers in peril. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continues itís winning story as it puts its focus on what any great movie should have: great characters.

Jennifer Lawrence gives Katniss that strong female persona that I liked before: strong, supporting, and with her hatred of the Capitol, she now faces the dilemma of being a celebrity, even though all she wants is to go back to the way things are. But is going back even a good idea? No, sheís caught up in having to take up responsibility that would drive any teenager insane.

Once the games begin, things turn from an engaging sci-fi drama into an engaging action thriller. The shaky camera from the first film is gone in place for more stylized imagery. Itís shot more like any other movie. But, thatís not a bad thing. It still feels like youíre in the sweaty jungle of the arena that theyíre fighting in. You really want Katniss and Peeta to fight their way to the end, along with some allies they make.

I think the only issue some folks will have is that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire may confuse those that have not seen the original movie. There is lot of talk about the trauma from fighting before that seems great, but only because I know of whatís happened before. Itís essential to have seen The Hunger Games before trying for the sequel.

Iíll give this four and a half bows and arrows out of five. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a gritty, action-adventure that I really liked. Itís engaging to hear about this future and you really care enough about these characters to want them to survive. Just be sure to watch The Hunger Games first.

Robert T. Nickerson is a film critic. His work can be seen at mastermindfilmproductions.com.


 

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