Catching Fire was a huge improvement on the first Hunger Games movie. It improved on story, editing, character development, special effects and more. After the second film, many, including myself, were very much looking forward to the next installment. Now I think everyone can agree that anti-capitalist capitalist Hollywood made a greedy and stupid decision to split the last book up into two films, which is why a lot of critics who saw this film were dissatisfied, it’s the way it is. So how did part one of the final movie fair against the last film? Will it leave you excited for the final installment or maybe make you feel like waiting for it to be at Redbox with your free movie night coupon?
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in District 13 after being rescued from her latest Hunger Games and is not coping well with having left Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) behind in the arena. Soon after arriving and reuniting with her mother and sister, Katniss is taken to see President Coin (Julianne Moore) who wants to recruit Katniss to be a propaganda tool known as the Mockingjay to encourage other Districts to revolt. After seeing the ruins of her former district, she agrees to do so as long as the new Districts soldiers find a way to rescue Peeta. Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), former Gamemaker and recent ally of the revolution, will direct Katniss in his “props” to show the other Districts the horrors that the Capital does under President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss and a team of filmmakers will now be the main tool against the Capital.
After reading some reviews before finally being able to take my wife to see this film, I was worried that the quality had dropped back to the originals level. Those worries were whisked away as soon at the end of the film. The creators once again deliver a solid piece of filmmaking with decent performances and some great action sequences. Jennifer Lawrence actually seems to stretch her acting muscle with her character, although there is a scene of overacting that was a little annoying. Woody Harrelson is not given much to do here, which is a huge mistake because he is one of the best parts of these films. The part of Effie has an expanded role in this film that was an addition that wasn’t in the book and Elizabeth banks does a great job with it. Hoffman is great in the little screen time he has, which is no surprise there. One of the better acting parts of the film goes to Sutherland though, who was a brilliant casting choice as the main villain. There are some great scenes throughout the film and the stand out has to be the “Hanging Tree” scene that was edited and shot wonderfully.
Yet another great picture of what it means to fight against an evil that seeks to oppress people. Both Donald Sutherland and Julienne Moore were great casting choices as their record of hating people that don’t agree with them is solid enough that they play their roles perfectly because of it. Katniss’ character is given a little bit more to do hear in that she says the words that the oppressed wish they could scream at the top of their lungs. There are many touching parts in the film that will make you cheer and then others that could be inspiring because of the courage certain characters show.
This was a much better film than what I was led to believe and is worth the watch if you are a fan. And if you are, you didn’t need me to tell you that. The direction and camera shots are still as good as the last film and the added humor in parts of the story is very welcome in a film that could have been very humorless.
3 stars out of 4