“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Review

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Dir: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liam Hemsworth and Donald Sutherland

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler as always*

 

I’ll admit, I didn’t like The Hunger Games and I read the book (yes I know, “the book is always better” blah blah blah).  I had nothing against anybody in the movie but the movie to me was a bit on the boring side and some of the changes they made were a bit iffy to me.  But, that is the nature of Hollywood adaptations.  So saying Catching Fire is better than The Hunger Games for me isn’t really saying that much.  However, it is a better movie than the first and the performances this time around better too.

The movie starts off showing Katniss (Lawrence) hasn’t forgotten her time during The Games right before President Snow (Sutherland) shows up at her house and asks her if she’s ready to be in a real war and ready to lose everyone she cares about die.  Snow knows that Katniss risking her life to save her and Peeta (Hutcherson) lives has started a revolution that he doesn’t want.  Snow then puts forth The Quarter Quell.  The Quarter Quell puts all past victors from past Hunger Games into the games. Snow sees this as an opportunity to not only get rid of the other victors but also squash a rebellion, and even get rid of Katniss.

The first half sets up our past characters in Katniss, Peeta, Gale (Hemsworth), Haymitch (Harrelson), even Effie (Banks) and Cinna (Kravitz) although their characters have very small roles compared to the newcomers.  Speaking of them, our main new characters include the Capital’s favorite Finnick Odair (Claflin), Johanna Manson (Malone), and Beetee (Wright).  All have their moments but Claflin and Malone stick out and are the better of the new additions that also include the new Games Maker, Plutarch Heavensbee played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Hoffman nearly steals the show next to the always reliable Stanley Tucci playing energetic TV host Caesar Flickerman.

The movie does have a different feel to it and it’s because of the director change from Gary Ross to Francis Lawrence.  Lawrence’s world is cold and hopeless which fits how everyone from Katniss to the other victors feel about the situation.  However, one of the things that Lawrence keeps, that isn’t for the better, is the certain beat the movie has before it gets to the area.  It is structured that way in the book but the way Katniss and Peeta scope out the new competitors in the training session and their individual tests does feel like a “been there done that” feel.

Once we get to the area, that’s where things start to gear up.  The action starts right away (and shaky cam free in case you were wondering) and a bit more violent than then first movie but again it does make sense since the stakes are bigger this time around and it’s no longer “a game.” Even when the action is at a standstill the characters are being developed so we can care about them, which I know sounds weird but considering this is a movie about people killing each other left and right this kind of stuff matters.

Acting wise, Jennifer Lawrence is the star of the show.  Her performance ranges all over the place from heroic to vulnerable to scared and proves that his role is hers and hers alone.  Hutcherson has more to do this time around bringing empathy and being the mouth-piece in a sense. Sutherland’s President Snow is a little more menacing this time around.  He’s still the man behind the curtain but he does everything he can to make sure Katniss doesn’t survive.

All in all, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a better outing from the first movie along with the acting and action.  The set up for the next two movies, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, should get fans of the book and non-fans excited.  But again, for me, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first movie but this was an improvement.

 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

3.5 out of 5

Worst and Disappointing Movies of 2012

It’s that time of the year folks, where people like me list up their best/favorite movies of the year. But of course we can’t avoid talking about the movies we disliked, hated, or at least for a few movies were disappointed by. Here in this list you’ll be doing the latter. Remember we don’t have to agree and I know I’ll at least piss off one person (maybe).

 

Worst: Chernobyl Diaries

This movie had some things going for it. 1) It was a horror movie that was set in the middle of nowhere in a different country and that place was Prypiat. 2) The atmosphere and 3) It was produced and written by Oren Peli, creator of the Paranormal Activity series (I’m still a fan, expect for part 4).

The movie did have its moments but there came a point where I just didn’t care for any of the characters and by the end it felt almost like a big “F$%K You” to the audience.

 

Disappointing/Worst: Paranormal Activity 4

Hey speaking of Paranormal Activity it’s also on the list. Now, I have always been a supporter of the PA movies and liked that it worked as a horror movie without falling into the typical “gore and nudity” territory. But, at this point I did feel like they were just cashing in on their cow and watching this I knew they no longer have the same drive and heart they had with the first three.

Any sense of the story they tried to tell us was jammed in the last fifteen minutes and wasn’t explained or just said in a quick form of dialogue. Also, nothing really happened, even the few jump scares that the movie is known for (and pretty much what makes them scary) weren’t that good. Let’s just say for the first time in the last two years, I’m not looking forward to the new PA movie.

 

Honorable Mentions: The Aggression Scale and Dragon Eyes

 

 

The “I Have No Idea Where to Put Them” List

Total Recall

I think everybody disliked the idea of Hollywood redoing Total Recall especially when Len Wiseman was attached. Even though the movie did do many things differently from the Arnold version it still was just okay (I use that term very strongly). There was nothing really special about the movie and I felt the best part of the movie was Kate Beckinsale’s character.

 

Snow White and the Huntsman

I think some of you are thinking I put this on my list because I didn’t like the movie. When in fact I actually enjoyed the movie for the most part but there was something about the movie at random times where I couldn’t like it. I felt that the better parts of the movie involved anything with the Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth (nothing against Stewart, I don’t hate her as much as other people).

Possibility the best parts of the movie were the visuals that looked amazing with the gritty dark tone of the movie.

 

The Hunger Games

Now, this is one will definitely tick out a lot of people off but before you write something like “oh you just think it’s another Twilight” and to that I say NO. I’ve read the Collin’s books and liked them and with that said the movie captured, at least for me, only some of the strong moments from the book.

I, despite like a lot of people, actually liked that Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss and she did a good job of capturing the character for the most part. However, again the movie captured only some of the strong moments from the book and lacked on some of the others. I can also accept the fact that they had to change things because some things have to be changed when adapting a book into a movie. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the movie but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

 

Taken 2

The first Taken took a lot of people by surprise and since then Liam Nesson has become the new action hero. When word got out that another was being made a lot of people were hesitant and thought, rightly so, “what can they do?” Well we found out the answer this year and the answer was…meh.

The idea of the fathers and brothers of the villains from the Taken 1 was pretty cool and to a point it actually worked but the final execution was a mixed bag. Nesson did a good job as always and even Maggie Grace had more to do but the movie failed to be as good as the first. However for me I think what made this movie disappointing was Oliver Megaton’s “direction.”

Anticipated Movies of 2013 Part 3 (Last One)

Last part of my anticipated movies for 2013

Oct

4th: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

            Many people have been waiting for a sequel to one of the few great comic book adaptations and after years of waiting directors Frank Millar (one of the creators of the original source material) and Robert Rodriguez are going to fulfill our wishes.

 

11th: Oldboy

            One of the best revenge thrillers I’ve seen and one of the best Korean movies as well. Even though many people are against it some were eased into it when Spike Lee was announced as the director and Josh Brolin was cast as the lead with Sharlto Copley as the villain and rising star Elizabeth Olsen joining too. Brolin has been talking up how the film has original director Chan-wook Park’s blessing and is not holding back on the brutality and dark tones.

           

18th: Malavita, The Seventh Son, No Good Deed

            Malavita is directing by Luc Besson who in my mind always makes enjoyable movies. This one has a mob family being relocated and having to fit in. Although not awesome sounding Besson is not the one who makes “dramas” so we can only assume that theirs going to be some action. Seventh Son is a 18th century movie that deals with magic. No Good Deed stars Idris Elba and is directed by Sam Miller who has worked with Elba on his hit show Luther so I’m in.

25th: The World End

The last installment in their so called “Blood & Ice Cream” trilogy, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back again. This time dealing with five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. The rest of the cast includes semi-regular co-stars Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan.

 

Nov

1st: Ender’s Game

            I’ve never read Orson Scott Card’s book (I intend to do that before this comes out) which this is based on but a lot of people are very excited for this. I’m in for another reason, the impressive cast. Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley

 

8th: Thor: The Dark World

Although some thought Thor wasn’t a good movie or Marvel movie for that matter, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not just because it was a Marvel proptery that was setting up The Avengers but because it had such great performances by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. With The Dark World it’s promising an even dark tone that Thor was hinting at and who better to bring that then Alan Taylor, the man responsible for many great episodes of Game of Thrones

 

22nd: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen

Although I didn’t really enjoy Hunger Games as much as I thought I would I’m still looking forward to Catching Fire since it’s a pretty nice set up for the final installments. Disney going for another hit animated movie in Frozen which is about a young girl named Anna journey to find Snow Queen and end the perpetual winter prophecy that has fallen over their kingdom.

 

Dec

13th: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I was very surprised with An Unexpected Journey and I can’t wait to see what Peter Jackson and Co. do next.

 

20th: Anchorman: The Legend of Continues, Saving Mr. Banks,

            Anchorman was probably one of the funniest/dumbest (dumb in a good way) movies I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Saving Mr. Banks is about how Walt Disney tried to get Mary Poppins to the big screen and how better to play Walt then Tom Hanks himself right?

 

25th: 47 Ronin, Jack Ryan

            47 Ronin has been delayed multiple times within the last two years for various reasons and it looks like it’s finally coming out. Set in the 18th century it centers on a band of samurai who set out to avenge the death of their master and who’s playing one of the samurai’s? That’s right Keanu Reeves. Jack Ryan is a Tom Clancy’s creation that has been played by Alec Baldwin (Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears) but now will be played by rising star Chris Pine and I for one can not wait.