Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (dir. Francis Lawrence, 2013)

The headlines on some of the early reviews of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire have called it the Empire Strikes Back of this series, and it’s not hard to see why. The new film fleshes out the characters introduced by the first film, it delves deeper into its central love triangle, it raises the stakes significantly, and it ends on an abrupt cliffhanger that separates the characters from one another and leaves you wondering what’s really going on (though the revelation at the end of this film is nothing compared to the famous “I am your father” moment from Empire).

I have never read the original novels, so I have only a vague idea of where the story is going, and no idea at all how faithful the films have been to the books. But I found I cared about this film in a way that I don’t recall caring about the original Hunger Games, which came out a year and a half ago. I was more impressed by how the film looked, and by the complicated interactions between our protagonists, which no longer fit quite so neatly into the familiar formula whereby a hero is called, trained, sent on some sort of quest and then returned to his or her home.

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Is the Noah trailer almost here…?

Noah director Darren Aronofsky just tweeted this morning that he has “watched and listened to the final mix” of the trailer for his film — and he asked his followers to “call/email your local theater and ask 4 it on #hungergames!” The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens November 22, which is less than two weeks away — so it looks like we won’t have to wait much longer to see some studio-approved footage of Aronofsky’s film, which opens four months from now on March 28. Incidentally, the church-conference trailer that leaked online a few weeks ago (and which I briefly mentioned in my post on “biblical accuracy”) is still viewable at Gawker. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream trailer compares to that other one; presumably it won’t have the worship song or the bit that refers to the Flood as “the most remarkable event in our history”, but who knows?

“We’ve tried to get away from the Trekkiness of it all.”

I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating: For most of their history, the Star Trek movies have tended to be formulaic action-oriented good-guy-vs.-bad-guy flicks, and have not reflected the wide range of stories that characterized the original TV series.

The TV show had its villains and action-oriented episodes too, of course, and sometimes the movies made in that vein have been very good, as was the case with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).

But at other times the action has seemed forced and rote, as it did in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), where it was fairly clear that at least some of the creative personnel wanted to do something different from the last few movies — something lighter, funnier, more romantic, etc. — but, as producer Rick Berman said at the time, “of course” the movie still had a fair bit of running and shooting and so on.

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