THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Jennifer Lawrence as KATNISS EVERDEEN
Liam Hemsworth as GALE HAWTHORNE
Josh Hutcherson as PEETA MELLARK
Woody Harrelson as HAYMITCH ABERNATHY
Donald Sutherland as PRESIDENT SNOW
Elizabeth Banks as EFFIE TRINKET
Lenny Kravitz as CINNA
Stanley Tucci as CAESAR FLICKERMAN
Philip Seymour Hoffman as PLUTARCH HEAVENSBEE
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
BY KEVIN CARR
Hollywood has been trying to wrangle the monster that is young adult fiction for the past decade. While there are a few franchises that have been tamed – like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” – there have been many others that never made the cut.
“The Hunger Games” has been one of those that the studio has a grip of, and so far, they’ve managed to make two pretty solid movies from the series. Those movies have been able to transcend its original young adult audience and capture the attention – and money – of the mainstream crowd.
The second film in the series, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” manages to one-up the first film. It helps that the world has been set up well in its predecessor, and less time is spent explaining how things work. It also sets things up nicely for the (possibly) overblown conclusions that will be spread over two films (a trend started by “Harry Potter” and continued by “Twilight”… the only two series that made it that far).
Visit this page for a complete review of the theatrical film, including a plot summary and my radio review. The short version is that I liked this movie quite a bit. The love triangle seemed a bit too forced, particularly at the beginning, but once the Hunger Gaming started, I was hooked. Jennifer Lawrence commands the lead in these movies and makes them her own. She’s far and gone superior to any of the leads in the “Twilight” series, and in my opinion, one of the main reasons this adaptation works.
I am looking forward to “Mockingjay” in its two parts, though I hope the effort flows nicely rather than feeling like the gratuitous cash-grab its split appears to be.
The special features on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” are both plentiful and lacking. There’s a nice commentary featuring director Francis Lawrence and his producer, and there are several deleted scenes that offer a bit more insight into the story. You also get a desperate plug for “Divergent” from the studio, hoping against hope this will be the next “Hunger Games.” (Spoiler alert: It won’t be.)
A nine-part, feature-length making-of documentary is included on the disc, giving a lot of keen insight into the production. This Blu-ray exclusive is well made and informative, but I would have preferred things be broken down a little more and compartmentalized instead of being basically a second film to watch about the first film.