Sunday, January 26, 2014

Catching Fire: Movie Review

Finally went to see the new Hunger Games movie lastnight.

I enjoyed the book series, for the most part. That is to say, I enjoyed the first two books, while thinking that the third was too long, overblown...meh. The Hunger Games books always reminded me of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy: Two fantastic books followed by...something. Something boring and pointless. It never pays to write the climax of a trilogy into the second book. Or leave it out of the third.

With that being said, Catching Fire was my favorite of the Hunger Games trilogy. And the movie, most likely, will end up being the best of the four movies. Why the jackasses of Hollywood keep on drawing out and expanding books is the subject of another post entirely. Greed has a great deal to do with it but I am sure hubris has its place too. Peter Jackson, I am talking to you...

Back to the movie review.

It was really a very good movie. I walked in prepared to be disappointed because, well, I am pretty hard on movies and I am usually disappointed. I mean, with all of the money thrown at these productions, you'd think they would pay more attention to plots and character development and continuity. But, sadly, they pay less and less attention to these things. Catching Fire, for the most part, got those things right, in so much as they occur in this type of story.

On the whole, the movie had an Empire Strikes Back feel to it: A very strong second piece. Hard to top. Genuine suspense, action that furthered the plot (rather than added in just because they had the means to shoot it) and terrific performances. Jennifer Lawrence gets a lot of attention but I think Woody Harrelson's Haymitch is the real core of the movie. Katness Everdeen is that survivor, good at staying alive, while being (mostly) a decent person. But Haymitch, and to a lesser extent Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) are the ones actually doing something about the problems.  On that note, a nod goes out to Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, one of the first characters to actually stand up, knowing that yes, he's going to be knocked down for it. A small role. But an important role. And a great performance too.

Catching Fire was excellent. And, in some pretty obvious ways, likely to be seen as very relevant to our times, if not now, then sometime in the future. The themes of oppression, surveillance, voyeuristic sadism and the price of revolution are all there.

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