Last year saw the great beginning to a film franchise based on a best-selling book The Hunger Games. And while young adult books would always live in the shadows of Twilight, this better, bigger and bolder series seems to be blazing past all expectations and transcending age. The first instalment of this epic series was a good effort. Although director Gary Ross has handed over the reins to Francis Lawrence, we are now following a rather impressive smoke trail with the sequel Catching Fire.
Where the first movie lay some impressive groundwork, Catching Fire has built an impressive franchise empire. Holding so dearly to the heavy themes of the second book, Lawrence translates the action, tenses and wrought emotions so effortlessly to screen. Not only are we submerged in a film that is darker than the first, but we are hooked from the opening sequence to the credits. Lawrence has picked up on the passion, the fight for survival that makes Catching Fire such an intriguing piece in the trilogy (now saga.) Using this to expand on the world first captured by Ross, Lawrence takes away the mistakes of shaky cam and instead uses ambitious and grandiose scenes to encapsulate the anger that is burning throughout the movie.
Of course, Lawrence has some talented lead players to carry not only the wrath but the emotional elements and portray them so effectively on screen. Handing such material to actress of the moment and Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence would always produce some brilliant work. Here Katniss has little lines to deal with but Jennifer Lawrence manages to excavate the inner turmoil of her; the scared child who has to make believe for cameras, the fighter who is trying to save her loved ones and the rebel who is uniting a nation. These layers of Katniss are all here and embodied so wonderfully in Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal.
The most impressive here is Josh Hutcherson who has grown into his role as Peeta. Where previously he seemed like a throw away pawn in the franchise, he has now matured Peeta who is every bit as frightened and anguished as Katniss is. All the while, he has these moments of kindness, love and selflessness. Having Hutcherson develop this role in this way is vastly impressive and you’ll go in backing Katniss, coming out stunned by his acting.
Catching Fire is an action packed sequel that takes you into its fiery grip and refuses to let go. It is grandiose yet poignant, balancing so many different themes and roles well. It gives a better taste of a franchise and dystopian world that is twisted and bent. Catching Fire is not only a faithful adaptation of the book but it will drag those who haven’t read the source material into the heart of the action and characters. It is bold and exhilarating, leaving you aching for more.
And dare I say, it is probably the blockbuster of the year.
Catching Fire is out now!
Check out this exclusive clip!