Catching Up Slowly
After Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) survived the 74th Hunger Games through her cunning play with the deadly berries they, especially Katniss, have become a thorn in the side of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) as they have given hope to the districts and hope needs squashing. With Snow wanting nothing more than to kill Katniss new game maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) persuades him that as the next games is the 75th they should do a Quarter Quell with tributes chosen from previous victors. With Katniss and Peeta finding themselves back in the arena it is a new game and is important for them to form alliances with other victors as going it alone is impossible. But Katniss also has her feelings to contend with as not only is she struggling to deal with what she had to do to survive in the 74th games there is also Peeta who would die for her and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) who has been there for her and her family all her life.
"The Hunger Games genuinely surprised me and whilst I don't think it was a great movie it was certainly entertaining enough to make me want to watch again." That is a quote from my review of "The Hunger Games" and the truth is that I could say exactly the same about "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" the second movie in the series as it isn't great cinema but it is surprisingly entertaining and certainly entertaining enough to warrant at least a second viewing if not more.
Amusingly I didn't think that way to start with as "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is drawn out during the first hour, stretching out a storyline which could have been happily dealt with in the space of half that time. So instead we get drawn out issues for Katniss as Gale thinks she has a thing for Peeta, we have the victor's tour, the small moments of uprising and President Snow trying to intimidate Katniss with threats. But as I said it feels drawn out as if director Francis Lawrence felt a duty to beat the running time of the previous movie by a few minutes.
Thankfully "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" sorts itself out with the Quarter Quell and that means we re-enter the arena for another Hunger Games but featuring the previous victors and in a jungle location. But whist we have a certain amount of familiarity with the training, interviews, chariot entry scene and so on the familiar idea is also switched around with Katniss having to trust others in order to survive. Plus... well for those who haven't read the book this movie clearly sets up the next movie with a little surprise.
What this all boils down to is as I said "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is surprisingly entertaining and well worth watching more than once but it still isn't great cinema. And this one clearly feels like it has been stretched out to be longer than it needed to be.