READER REVIEW: Why ‘Catching Fire’ is my film of the year...

On Friday evening I had the pleasure of viewing the sequel to last year’s box office smash The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. Having read all of the books, I was more than excited to be stepping into one of the first screenings of the new film, and I most certainly was not disappointed.

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games

As usual, all I have is praise for Jennifer Lawrence who portrays Katniss Everdeen, the movie’s central protagonist, in the exact way she was supposed to. No-one could do a better job than Jen who plays every scene with precision and prestige.

The rest of the cast are also immaculate and I am unbelievably grateful to the screenwriters that we finally get to see more of Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks) and her hilarious antics, as well as her soft side which, as an audience, we haven’t been exposed to before.

Every actor, including a scatter of famous faces, such as Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, all portray their characters to the point and the vivid imagination of Suzanne Collins really comes to life.

Obviously, I would recommend that you watch the first film or read the books before Catching Fire because the film will ultimately make a lot more sense, and it’s great to see how certain characters are developed. Much like in the Twilight saga, the film revolves around a stubborn, yet beautiful female teen heroine.

However, in contrast to Twilight, there is actual substance to the plot of The Hunger Games trilogy, in which the love triangle between Katniss and two inexplicably patient and endlessly persistent lovers does not take over the entirety. The film actually sets out to regard the unbelievable pressures of the celebrity-obsessed world and the passiveness of society.

A comment on imperialism is further noticeable through a discrete but symbolic reference to ancient Romans, an influence which is immediately presented by the crazy names given to those in the Capitol - a lucrative critique of those devoured by fame and fortune.

As with any popular film franchise based on a series of books, notable absences will be immediately picked up on by eager fans. Personally I would have liked to see more of feisty Johanna Mason, a defiant previous victor and District 11 tribute who appeared to be somewhat overlooked by filmmakers.

Her brutal and stone-hard attitude to life was interesting to uncover when divulging into the depths of the film’s literature counterpart, yet Jena Malone’s character was unfortunately somewhat restrained. Katniss’ onscreen sister Prim Everdeen (Willow Shields) is another incredible character who could have been explored further. Due to the ‘revolution’, an eleven year old girl is forced to suddenly mature and face adulthood, never quite receiving the full extent of her childhood. This is regrettably only presented subtly in one short scene at most. Granted, not every detail can be developed and taken to the big screen, but the feature was so fast paced and invigorating that the near two hour duration flew by, leaving the audience hungry for more (no pun intended).

The actual ‘arena’ scenes, in the latter half of the film, are remarkable and the editing is very impressive. Stunning scenery and locations used were perfect, while the computer generated imagery was made to look increasingly realistic, which fitted very nicely. Costumes were flawless, Effie in particular, and the film had a brilliant mix of comedic, emotional and action packed moments from the offset and throughout. New director Francis Lawrence, taking the reigns from Guy Ross, did a superb job, receiving a dignified stamp of approval from the harshest of movie critics and jubilant Hunger Games fanatics alike. I can’t think of a better way to execute the story-line and no scene was in the least bit dull.

An odd way of presenting the closing scenes, which could have been a lot more interesting and enigmatic is easily forgivable due to the rest of the film being so well made and presented. Without spoiling anything, there’s a gripping twist at the end of the feature which links nicely to its successor. ‘Mockingjay’ is due for release next year and will be divided imaginatively into two films, unsurprisingly similar to the Harry Potter and Twilight series.

Tipped for box office success and already with raving reviews, Catching Fire is my film of the year. Catch it in your local cinema from 21st November 2013. 5/5 rating.

I’d love to hear what you think, tweet me @JackBenEdwards and tell me your opinions and critiques. Thank you for reading and may the odds be ever in your favour.