January 28, 2016

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Francis Lawrence, 2013
I have to start this review with a bit of an apology. After seeing the first Hunger Games film, a lot of memories of the 2000 Japanese bloodbath thriller Battle Royale surfaced. It felt so similar. I went on to do a little research, discovering that The Hunger Games books actually stirred a bit of controversy because of the similarities to the Royale films. Some argued that because of the Royale films being released before the books, that author Suzanne Collins must have lifted the premise. I was one of the people who felt that Collins had ripped off Kinji Fukasaku’s idea. The whole kids getting put on island forced to fight it out to the death couldn’t have been conceived by both purely on coincidence. But the second installment of the Hunger Games comes into it’s own. It builds off the first film, and takes on a different form that sets itself apart. The detailed dystopian landscape, as unforgiving and tragic as it is, is alluring. The film does what so many of the great dystopian films (Children of Men, The Road, The Matrix) do so well. It creates a dreadful end-of-days scenario where the state of humankind is haunting. Through fascist political overreach and highly evolved technology, we see what humans are capable of doing to each other in such horrid circumstances. You continue to stay invested in Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen character as she tries to find independence / solitude from the Snow regime. But because her character has become an iconic figure, it becomes evident that she is forever changed and unable to escape the public spotlight. A symbol of hope for the poverty-stricken people but a symbol of rebellion to the leadership. Francis Lawrence does a good job of making you completely despise the Snow regime and really get behind the plight of Katniss. From the detailed visual effects to the sound design, Catching Fire feels very much like a Battle Royale meets Snowpiercer meets novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (soon to be adapted to film by Steven Spielberg). I am glad I gave the second one a go. I plan on continuing on. Catching Fire certainly leaves you hanging, eager to see what happens next.

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