(Rating: 12A, 146 mins) Written by Zen Terrelonge
Starring – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Now, having watched Catching Fire ahead of reading the novel, I just hope my copy of the paperback leaves me as captivated as the movie.
The film picks up around 11 months after Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutcherson) wounded the law and order that the Capitol had been enforcing for 74 years by refusing to follow the rules of the Hunger Games.
Said rules, of course, require a girl and boy – known as tributes – from each of the country of Panem’s 12 districts to compete in a murderous winner takes all battle to the death.
The disruption left a bitter taste in the president’s (Sutherland) mouth and he is hell-bent on restoring control and begins to watch Katniss’ every move, insisting she does his bidding to eliminate the scent of hope left trailing behind her.
There’s at least an hour of build-up ahead of the actual tournament and this does an excellent job of demonstrating that trouble is brewing on both sides. It really captures just how sinister the Capitol truly is in the attempt to strike fear into the public and silence a resistance.
Old characters are fleshed out: Katniss becomes more likeable and shows the damaging after effects of the first tournament and Haymitch (Harrelson) shows signs of a moral compass.
New characters are introduced: the people’s champion Finnick Odair (Claflin) and head games maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Hoffman) who is in cahoots with the president.
And beyond fresh meat, the very location of the games has changed from cold woodland to something of a tropical jungle, offering the tributes all manner of new threats to face-off against – beyond each other.
Catching Fire is stuffed full of moments that will pull at the heartstrings, drop jaws and get pulses racing.