Review: Let the Revolution begin! “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Inspires

The future does not look blight in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment of the movies adapted from the popular book series.

It’s a cold, bleak life for Katniss when she returns to District 12 after co-winning the televised battle to the death in the first movie. Through threatening to commit suicide rather than fight each other, she and her co-conspirator-TV boyfriend Peeta forced the Capitol in general and President Snow in particular to accept one less death.

President Snow is not happy.

While Katniss moons around her impoverished mining town, seethes with rage at the ordeal she was forced to suffer, takes a supposedly celebratory victory lap around the country with Peeta, and tries to figure out how she feels about her erstwhile boyfriend Gale, Snow plots his revenge.

And it’s a doozy:

A new Hunger Games, built expressly for the purpose of putting Katniss in her place.

But Snow has problems of his own. He’s having more and more trouble suppressing the restless and angry populace. They’ve found a hero in Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, the girl who honored Rue, the girl who forced the Capitol into a draw. Despite his brutal and totalitarian efforts to put down the people, they rise up.

The revolution is coming. All it needs is a spark to start the blaze.

This adaptation stays true to the plot and tone of the popular book by Suzanne Collins, making minor changes and consolidations but keeping the overall trajectory intact. As with the source material, the film is intense, dark, exciting and gripping. It’s excellent.

A large part of that excellence comes in the form of America’s current darling Jennifer Lawrence in the titular role. It’s hard to  remember back when she was cast that many thought she was too old to play Katniss. Now, with two movies of the eventual four complete, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Equal parts strength and vulnerability, rage and woundedness, fear and rebellion, Lawrence’s Katniss is a confused whirlwind with an iron core. Of course they would build a revolution around her.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta are very much supporting characters to Lawrence’s Katniss. It’s fun to see the boys revolving around – and depending on – the girl for a change. They could be played by other actors and have  much the same effect. Not so with Jennifer Lawrence.

A supporting character that really comes into her own in this film is Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket. The primped, painted, fluffed, and aptly named promotional agent has a story arc in which her assumptions and emotions about the games are challenged for the first time, and Banks pulls it off with a humor that turns to pathos. Well done.

The Games are as much about spectacle as anything, and director Francis Lawrence puts that wonderfully into life: A dazzling but decrepit Capitol full of balls and fur and glitter, a superficial and hammy TV show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (the delightful Stanley Tucci), and a dramatic and dismaying arena with plenty of surprises.

Everything is well done. I have no complaints about this movie. If I had any, it would be that occasionally Jennifer Lawrence’s face looked a little too post-production enhanced, a sad thing to do to the natural beauty, but that is  a minor, minor complaint on what is a fantastic movie.

Like the books, this movie is unrelentingly dark in tone. Comparable to the tone of Ender’s Game or the last two films of Harry Potter, the world of the Hunger Games is hard-scrabble, desperate, frantic, fearful. There are no moments of levity, and only a few snatched periods of relative peace. Rated PG-13, there is no language or overt sexuality, although Katniss does kiss both Gale and Peeta. The confusing love triangle is a large part of this story. She sleeps – chastely – with Peeta in the same bed, overcome with dread and fear and in need of company. However, the violence and oppression of this film is quite intense for a kids’ movie. There are numerous beatings, whippings, and one gun to the head execution that happens just barely offscreen. I would not recommend it for grade school kids and would use caution for young teens.

Ultimately, the darkness only serves to highlight the light of bravery as those around Katniss risk everything for a shot at freedom. This is a movie that makes you believe in revolution.

Read More:

My review of the first movie “The Hunger Games” 

Discussion of politics in The Hunger Games. Is it liberal? Libertarian? Communist? Conservative?

Parents’ guide to “The Hunger Games.” A brief, but helpful, primer. 

Race and The Hunger Games: Stand Down, People

Sadly, race has become an issue in the blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games.” A few fans have tweeted their disappointment that the characters Rue, Thresh, and or Cinna, are black. It’s all the more strange because Rue and Thresh are described as having brown skin in the books.

One misspelled, often printed quote even uses the racial epithet beginning with “n.”

Sad. Disgusting. Wrong.

Still, by my admittedly rough math, some 140,000 people saw “The Hunger Games” last weekend.

There are about ten racist quotes making the rounds on the web, only one that I’ve seen with the racial epithet.

I don’t want to excuse racism. Not at all.

But I ask: Aren’t we focusing on the wrong story? Shouldn’t the headline be: “Of the 140k that saw The Hunger Games, ten are racist?”

Or, “Nation tells the racist .07% of Hunger Games Fans that Racism is Not OK?”

I mean, good grief. If white people as a whole were upset about Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, would the film have made 152.5 million?

Isn’t this outrage snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

Is Jennifer Lawrence too Fat to Play Katniss?

It seems everyone has seen and is talking about “The Hunger Games” after its unthinkable $155 million domestic box office weekend.

My friend and colleague, Movie Mom Nell Minnow of Belifenet, called out multiple sources for calling Jennifer Lawrence too fat or large to play Katniss Everdeen, even soliciting a grudging apology of sorts from one. Good job, Nell!

For her part, Jennifer Lawrence seems to be fine with her figure.

The Politics of the Hunger Games

It seems “The Hunger Games” is a bit of a Rorschach test for people politically. Do the districts represent #Occupy protesters? Ayn Rand workers oppressed by their government? Fodder for meaningless wars? Or something more?

In his review, Roger Ebert writes:

In interviews, Sutherland has equated the younger generation with leftists and Occupiers. The old folks in the Capitol are no doubt a right-wing oligarchy. My conservative friends, however, equate the young with the Tea Party and the old with decadent Elitists. [Read more...]

RedState Movie Mafia Podcast: All About the Hunger Games

This week we’re all about The Hunger Games at RSMM.

We debate Team Peeta versus Team Gale.

We discuss the political overtones of the film.

Plus, @dcfilmgirl_ (that’s Lauren) and @Rebecca_Cusey school @JohnHanlon on the appropriate use of underscores in Twitter handles.

As always, we run down the home viewing releases of the week for Blu-Ray or streaming (there are a lot of good choices) and give you our Single Shot. What one movie should you watch this week?

Listen here.

Or subscribe on iTunes.


Plunge Inside the World of The Hunger Games

Can’t wait the hours until Katniss Everdeen does her thing on the big screen?

Luckily, the interweb has come through for you, with enough Hunger Games material to keep you focused until the movie opens at midnight tonight. [Read more...]

Violence, Morality, and the Inherent Schizophrenia of The Hunger Games: A Review

Are you ready for the Hunger Games?

With a fantastic story, powerful acting, and excellent setting creation, the movie is poised to be the movie event of the year. The glitz and hype, however, only serve to highlight the Hunger Games’ inherent schizophrenia  reflecting our national discomfort with our wars. The film is intentionally and unbendingly anti-war as any grey ponytailed UC Berkeley professor, and yet its best moments come when it makes a case for violent revolution against injustice. [Read more...]

A Parent’s Guide to The Hunger Games

So what are these “Hunger Games” I’m hearing about?

The Hunger Games Trilogy is an addictive, well-written series of books written by Suzanne Collins in the young adult market. First published in 2008, the three books The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay have sold millions of copies in dozens of languages and spent over a hundred weeks on the New York Times’ Bestseller List. The movie of the first book, directed by Gary Ross and starring Jennifer Lawrence, came March 23, 2012 and was very successful. The second movie, Catching Fire, will be released November 22, 2013.  [Read more...]

Interview: George Washington Reviews The Hunger Games

He’s a hard interview to book these days, but Patheos recently sat down with the hero of the American Revolution and the United States’ first president, George Washington. He told us about the afterlife and his obsession with young adult literature, especially the red-hot Hunger Games.  But be warned, Washington has read all the books and isn’t shy about revealing the ending. He is our nation’s Father, after all, so he has the privilege.

PATHEOS: So how are things in the afterlife?

GW: Busy. Busy. Independence Hall in Philly doesn’t haunt itself, you know. Plus, Abe and I just finished with Presidents’ Day. We like to go to car dealerships and furniture stores and impersonate presidential impersonators. Abe sold a nice leather sectional. Got the commission and everything.

PATHEOS: Do you need commissions in the afterlife?

GW: Abe owed Churchill some money after a bad round of cloud golf.

PATHEOS: Cloud golf?

GW: Sure. Lincoln, Churchill, myself and John Belushi have a standing tee time every Thursday.

PATHEOS: Belushi?

GW: You wouldn’t believe his handicap.

PATHEOS: Sounds like you’re enjoying retirement.

GW: That, and keeping up with young adult literature.

PATHEOS: Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that. [Read more...]

Peeta Confesses Love for Katniss – Hunger Games Clip

We’re happily part of “The Hunger Games” frenzy here at Tinsel. With the movie having its LA premiere tonight and huge tracking to make a cool$100 million, Lionsgate has released another clip from the film. It opens March 23. Got your tickets yet?

Clip is from MTV.