‘The Hunger Games’ catches fire once again

It’s a rare thing when I’ll go pay $15 to go see a movie. I’d usually much rather wait until it comes out on DVD and Netflix it. So it’s even rarer when I go to see a movie in a theater more than once. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, however, stands up to both re-watching and the cost of going to see multiple times.

While the first movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games, was a decent adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, Catching Fire is an even better one.  The deviations from the novel the screenwriters made, such as making The Capitol and not District 12 the final stop on the Victory Tour, were minor and thoughtfully chosen. A change in directors also benefitted the franchise, with Francis Lawrence replacing Gary Ross. Lawrence’s style was more crisp, and he eliminated the shaky cameras that bothered some fans in the last film. However, even with the change of directors, the sequel still made a cohesive transition from the first film.

Casting for the film was close to perfection. Jennifer Lawrence again led the cast, delivering a believable and emotional performance as Katniss. She aptly portrayed the psychological impacts the last Games had on Katniss, as well as the complexity of her relationships with the other characters. Josh Hutcherson improved his performance of Peeta from the last film, and really dug into the goodness of his character. Added to the cast were Sam Claflin as Finnick and Jenna Malone as Johanna. Claflin also portrayed the complex emotions of his character well, especially with his compassionate treatment of Mags, Finnick’s mentor and now ally in the Games. In contrast, Malone played up the supposed lack of emotion in her character well, and  even improved from the character in the book. Her sassy comments also provided some much needed comic relief to the otherwise intense film.

Spoiler Alert! The film closes with a cliffhanger, with Gale telling Katniss that “There is no District 12.” While the audience is left to comprehend this, Katniss’s iconic Mockingjay pin lights up the screen, and the bird takes flight.  This powerful image is a perfect segue into the next film, Mockingjay Part 1,  which is set to come out next November.

Heritage students Kristin Good, Jenna Austin, and Bailey Dodd hang out with friends before going to see "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

Heritage students Kristin Good, Jenna Austin, and Bailey Dodd hang out with friends before going to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

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