Hunger Games: Catching Fire film review - Welcome sparks of life enliven dystopian Hunger Games
Friday 22 November 2013
The second instalment in the Hunger Games saga begins with tremendous verve. The film-makers conjure up a dystopian world that can't help but rekindle memories of Orwell's 1984. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) may have survived the combat in the first film but her prospects still seem grim. Her family and friends in District 12 live in poverty and under oppression. The brutal fascist regime led by Donald Sutherland's President Snow is using her for propaganda purposes.
Initially, the tone of the storytelling is dark and satirical. The production design effectively contrasts the desaturated, American depression-era look of the Districts with the gaudy excesses of the Capitol. Alongside the young leads, the cast is full of strong character actors who give the film a gravitas you don't expect in a franchise movie.
Gradually, though, the contradictions become apparent. Director Lawrence seems uncertain whether he is making a sci-fi thriller for adults or a teen adventure yarn. As the actual Hunger Games begin in earnest, the tempo stutters. The effects are spectacular but the reality-TV show conceit makes the storytelling seem increasingly cumbersome. You can't help but be frustrated by a movie that ends so abruptly (leaving us to wait for the next sequel). Still, to its credit, this is real film-making, not a cynical exercise in exploiting the Suzanne Collins books. Lawrence, back in a role a long way removed from her Oscar-winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook, shows her star quality. Whether shooting arrows or intervening to stop a friend from being horsewhipped, she plays Katniss with such ferocious conviction that we never question for a moment how far-fetched the premise here actually is.
Francis Lawrence, 150 mins Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
The Independent Bath Literature Festival: 'Top Gear' makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells book festival
Jenny Collier row: Comedy promoter apologises after dropping female comic 'because venue did not want too many women on the bill'
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jared Leto: Best Supporting Actor Oscar sparks backlash from transgender community
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times