Friday, December 6, 2013

Movie Review: The Hunger Games Catching Fire

The Twilight movies teach young girls to like terrible books, believe in an unrealistic and ridiculous definition of love, run away from problems, and depend on some guy to save them.

Katniss Everdeen teaches young girls to NOT believe in some ridiculous definition of love, but instead stand on their own feet, face their fears and kick copious amounts of ass. Hunger Games is the teenage franchise that teenagers SHOULD see.

The first Hunger Games had a lot going for it, but a lot against it too. The sequel Catching Fire fixes everything that was wrong with the first film. Unncessary shaky camera? Sorted – the new director Francis Lawrence goes out of his way to make the imagery in this film more fluid and watchable. The boring Liam Hemsworth side character? He’s shafted into a decently established space this time around. The uncharismatic Josh Hutcherson? He’s finally given better lines and he’s discovered some much needed screen presence. The budget is amped up as well, and the fire on Katniss’ dress no longer looks like a cheesy hand drawn doodle. 

As for everything that was good about the first film, it gets even better and more interesting in the second one. The various themes of nihilism, dystopia, the failure of humanity as a civilization and its voyeuristic obsession with violent debauched reality TV entertainment are significantly better established in Catching Fire. Moreover, the hunger games themselves are bigger, more dangerous, far broader in scope and better shot (with IMAX cameras no less). And there’s the heroic, ethereal presence of Jennifer Lawrence, perfect in every way, oozing massive talent, shooting arrows and truly becoming the role model for young girls to look up to. She’s unstoppable on screen as she is off screen, and like Katniss she’s leading a revolution against the tyranny of bullshitty literature like 50 shades of Gray and Twilight.

The book itself is a sort of a filler that leads to the third and final chapter Mockingjay, but Catching Fire holds your attention despite its two and a half hour runtime. One big reason why it works and stands apart from the rest of the big franchises of the year is that it spends almost an hour on character development, and tries decently hard to avoid the cliches. The other contestants have some personality this time, best of which is the foul mouthed Jena Malone who shares one utterly hilarious moment in an elevator with Lawrence. It’s great that the film works as pure sci fi, and as a teen centric escapist entertainment, and as a blokbuster and as fodder for the Jlaw GIF lovers. And it’s cool that it’s not in 3D. And it ends with Coldplay’s Atlas, which perfectly encapsulates the haunting mood of the film. 

(First published in MiD Day)

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