When my wife told me we were going to see the second installment of the Hunger Games series, I wasn’t dreading it. I enjoyed the first movie well enough and from what I had heard, the second book was the best in the series. I haven’t read the series, so I can’t tell you if it held up. What I can tell you is that I am glad my wife has read the books. I need someone in my life to ask not to spoil it for me.
What I can tell you is that the movie was great from start to finish in the way it recaptured the emotion of the first film (if you thought you were done crying about Rue, you were dead wrong) and the way it set up what I hope is a positively epic two-movie breakdown of the aftermath. It’s no secret that the third book was being broken into two movies, but as someone who has not read the series, the way things are panning out, it appears to be almost as understandable as a two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The movie is about 2 1/2 hours long and, much like the last film, focuses on Katniss Everdeen (more commonly known as my spirit animal). The strong young woman from the first film, however, is replaced by a broken girl who cries for nearly all of the 146 minutes she is on the screen. President Snow, played by Mr. Bennet of the most recent release of “Pride and Prejudice,” is fully aware Katniss is a rebellious girl and verbally spanks her with his soft, paternal voice somehow. We’re left with an emotionally torn Katniss who can’t decide what in the hell she should do.
The casting for this film remains impressive. Actually, scratch that. It was superb. Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the new Gamemaster was perfect in portraying a tactician who was several steps ahead of everyone, including the president. The character’s words and his actions (direct and indirect) show the mind of a chess player who was determined to stay ahead at every turn. Several of the Tributes were familiar faces if you like television dramas, but the one character who stood out for me was Johanna Hutcherson, who was played by Jena Malone.
In possibly the greatest unintentional (maybe?) casting dynamic, Malone and Donald Sutherland (who plays Snow) play a logical extension of their previous work together, the aformentioned Pride and Prejudice. Malone played Lydia Bennet, after all, the rebellious teenager who ran off to get married to a jerk of a colonel. Her role in Catching Fire is one of rebellion as she openly defies Sutherland’s role as Snow.
Bottom line, go watch the movie. It’s long, and a couple parts drag, but not so much that you’ll lose interest in the movie. Start to finish, I didn’t move (except to wipe my eyes during two scenes). It was emotionally intense, and I can’t ask for a better way to be entertained.
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read further if you don’t want certain things spoiled.
One of the things that I guess the book had that confused me was the death of a lot of old people, as though the Hunger Games are a metaphor for Barack Obama’s Death Panels? Sarah Palin has yet to return my calls on the subject.
Lenny Kravitz’s character is now very similar to his career, and I don’t know if the batons were metaphors or not.
I am ready for the outcry over about the non-white characters being non-white. It’s happened before. I was more shocked that they got Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play a white guy.