Unlike numerous other franchises adapted from literature that sweep away the magic created by the original books, the Hunger Games series has now doubly remained faithful to Suzanne Collins’ fantastic collection. Similarly to what happened with the first film, Catching Fire grabs the attention of viewers from the very beginning, and throws us back into the overwhelmingly exciting yet terrifying Olympics to the death. For the whole duration of this movie, expect yourself to become totally immersed within the plot and the characters’ story lines, thanks to its insanely talented cast, mind-blowing visuals and a futuristic but simultaneously relatable story.
Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson return as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark respectively, the winning duo of the 74th Hunger Games in which we saw them compete bravely in the first instalment. As part of their triumph the couple, now known as having provided the ?greatest love story of all time’, embark on a tour throughout all twelve districts. As hinted by the suspicious ending of the first movie, President Snow is not at all content with the twist of results of the games, since two tributes had never won together, and is determined to get things back on track. Katniss manages to provide hope to the populations of the districts, something that had been long lost since the ?Dark Days’, and unwillingly triggers riots and demonstrations, particularly from the poorer district including her own twelfth. This makes President Snow even more uneasy, leading Katniss, Peeta and other former winners of the games to greatly doubt whether they can truly spend the rest of their lives in peace.
Without giving too much away, especially if you have not yet read the books and have no particular expectations of how the story will be twisted, you will not be disappointed with this sequel. The flowing continuation from the first to the second movie is blatantly striking, not to forget captivating performances by the likes of my personal favourites Woody Harrelson (?Haymitch Abernathy’), Elizabeth Banks (?Effie Trinket’) and Donald Sutherland (?President Snow’) amongst many others. I was extremely impressed with the casting choices of the new characters in this instalment, including Jena Malone (?Johanna Mason’), who infamously drops the first f-bombs we’ve ever heard in the Hunger Games movies, Sam Claflin (?Finnick Odair’) playing a complicated role with more than one side to him, and the legendary Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (?Plutarch Heavensbee’), whose character is appointed as the new mastermind behind the upcoming games.
Despite the change of director to Francis Lawrence, and the inevitable filmmakers’ fear of having a flop sequel following one of the biggest blockbusters ever, Catching Fire is quite close to being as amazing as last year’s box-office-smash. To be honest, the only thing I was slightly disappointed about was the fact that Coldplay’s magnificent ?Atlas’ was the only song from the soundtrack to be featured on screen. But you can easily get over it by hearing the other tracks written purposely for Catching Fire, including beautiful contributions by Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Of Monsters & Men, Christina Aguilera, and countless others.
All in all, this film surpassed my expectations and I would definitely recommend to anyone. Jam-packed with action, drama, romance, horror and even a few well-executed comedic moments, Catching Fire will appeal to practically all movie lovers. Finally, it was additionally satisfying to see Maltese fans of the Hunger Games series getting the opportunity to experience the premier in time with European audiences, rather than having to wait for a billion years to catch a glimpse.