At the Movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I wish I liked “The Hunger Games” as much as everyone else seems to.

Granted, it’s a much better series than those other mega-stars of Young Adult fiction. It’s not as mind-numbingly stupid as “Twilight” and not as convoluted and bloated as “Harry Potter.” It even stars a female version of Hawkeye (not Kate Bishop) so you’d think I’d be all on board with that.

And yet…

The names: Why are the names so stupid? Peeta Mellark?  Effie Trinket? Plutarch Heavensbee?  Beetee? How can I take these people seriously when they’re names sound like something Dr. Seuss came up with — and rejected.

The central premise still annoys me: The government is afraid of revolution so they make all the poor districts sacrifice two children a year to a televised murder spree? And the people don’t revolt? Makes me wonder how we ever kicked the British off our land without a teenage girl with a bow and arrow to give us “hope.”

And what’s with all the crazy eyelashes?

Let’s be honest, the only reason this series is a hit is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s so captivating and has such a great screen presence that you ignore all the flaws because you want to spend time with her. If Kristen Stewart were playing Katniss Everdeen we’d all be mocking how stupid it is.

The_Hunger_Games-_Catching_Fire_62Rant over. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” picks up where the previous film left off. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are back home in dirt-poor District 12 after finagling a double-win in last year’s Hunger Games. Even though her heart belongs to childhood pal Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss must continue the pretense that she and Peeta are in love in order to appease the masses.

Fearing Katniss is inspiring the people to insurrection, President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) announces this year’s games will be an All-Star version. The 75th anniversary Hunger Games will feature only winners from previous games.

Peeta and Katniss again find themselves on a train with Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), their mentor, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), their — what is the point of Effie Trinket?

At this point it’s mainly a rerun of the first film but with different locales, dangers, costumes and special effects. There’s a big twist at the end which then sets us up for the next movie.

If you enjoyed “The Hunger Games” you should enjoy “Catching Fire” since it’s more of the same only bigger and more flashy and at a faster pace. The great Philip Seymour Hoffman has joined the cast but doesn’t get to do much. I assume he’ll have a greater role in part 3.

Despite all the pyrotechnics and killer monkeys, it’s once again Lawrence who centers the film and brings heart and feeling to all the action. She brings the real heat to “Catching Fire.”


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