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The Hunger Games Catching Fire (2013) Movie Review

November 23, 2013
In a rarity for a second film, “Catching Fire” takes everything good from the first film and leaves behind all that was not so good. The shaky cam that drove me nuts is gone and the music is much more prominent. Both are thanks to a new director. “Catching Fire” moves forward at a much faster pace this time and the games are much more action-packed. If you have read the book, you know how terrifying some of the obstacles in the games are this time around. They were even harder to watch in the film. Each of them is rendered with convincing accuracy such that the games are quite thrilling. The new games bring with them new interesting characters as well. Each of them is cast quite well to capture the individuality of the combatants.

Musically, I found “Catching Fire” to be much stronger this time. I could tell that the director of the first “Hunger Games” film wanted music to take a back seat so I only noticed a few themes the first time. For “Catching Fire” James Newton Howard returns, giving his themes from the first film some much-needed fleshing out. We also get a beautiful new love theme for Katniss and Peeta that works very well. There is some solid action/horror music for the games that has the needed ferocity as well as some hints of Newton Howard’s previous work in some beautiful string music. I was also quite impressed by a few of the songs in the end credits. Usually they make me want to leave the theater right away but the Coldplay and Of Monsters and Men songs were quite nice and very fitting.
If you are reading this I suspect you have come to enjoy the characters that make “The Hunger Games” so much fun. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson both show that they have grown as actors since the first film. I was also quite struck by how Willow Shields shows as Prim this time around. Though she has a short time on screen, she has quite a presence. Sam Clafin also makes a great Finnick. He has the pretty boy look and arrogance to fit his character and a solid presence as well.
“Catching Fire” moves along at a brisk pace and looks gorgeous for most of it. The dull colors of the districts are countered nicely by the bright colors of the capitol. The new arena for the games is beautifully shot in the jungles of Hawaii and pops off the screen in the IMAX version. The entire section in the games was shot with an IMAX camera and it works really well. I don’t think any other film before this had as much continuous IMAX footage. When I left the theater I was quite satisfied by what I saw and very excited for the third film, which will be broken into two parts. It is time to start reading the third book in preparation.

From → Sci-fi

  1. Nice review Paul. The removal of shaky cam alone is enough to make me thing of this movie as a step up from the first film.

    • Yeah it does make a big difference. I watched the first movie again recently on Netflix streaming and the shaky cam really kept it from being better.

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