The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has arrived and boy what a ride you are about to take in this two and a half hour journey. With a better script, more character development, depth, top-notch visuals, thrills, and quality acting – the Hunger Games: Catching Fire has all the right ingredients to be a sequel that does not disappoint. Loyal followers and newcomers will be taken on a ride that blows past the first film and paves the way for an incredible climax in the remaining two installments to come.
Partially shot with IMAX cameras, the film takes us into the world of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) after they successfully beat the system and are living as victors of the Hunger Games. Director Francis Lawrence gives us a window into their characters, how they cope with their new status, their guilt, and their complex relationship with each other. This is a clear departure from the previous film, which was more keen on the action without the filling.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire thankfully includes much-needed character development without sacrificing the action and thrill factor, keeping us on the edge of our seats as we follow Katniss through her inevitable transformation from victor to icon of hope for the increasingly rebellious districts. Jennifer Lawrence expertly shows the emotional turmoil Katniss goes through at every twist and turn in the road, balancing complex emotions, moral conflicts, deep loyalties, and a love triangle that seems doomed from the beginning. As messy as it sounds, the movie succeeds in carrying us along through her journey, engrossing us in her complicated process and maintaining a high level of tension throughout the film.
***Warning Potential Spoilers Ahead***
Viewed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) as an increasing threat, Katniss becomes a target for elimination, prompting the call for another round of the Hunger Games whereby the previously invincible victors of all the prior games (a male and female victor from each district) must now fight each other to stay alive. The game, controlled by new head gamemaker (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are unlike anything any of the victors had previously experienced. The result is a hair-raising experience that leads to a fantastic climax, leaving us thirsty for more. Notable newcomers to the series are Sam Claflin as the handsome Finnick Odair and Jena Malone as the sassy and deadly Johanna Mason, adding to the eclectic new mix of characters that make the movie so much more enjoyable.
From a visual standpoint, some of the more intense sequences throughout the movie, are filmed using IMAX cameras, and these scenes perfectly accentuate the more high-tech sci-fi aspects of the film, effectively creating a beautiful contrast with the integration of low tech elements throughout the story. Overall, although this film falls far short of a visual extravaganza, the likes of which could be found in the Man of Steel’s IMAX experience, it does offer an even more mesmerizing experience on IMAX than it would on standard film.