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
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
25 years of Disney: How Darth Vader, Iron Man, Elsa and Pixar's geniuses helped the company conquer the world (again)
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account