Movie review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire

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*Please note that this is a spoiler-FREE review. However, some accidental spoilers may have sneaked their way in without telling me. Enter at own risk. 

Ah yes, the second instalment of the YA series The Hunger Games. With Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson back in their roles as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the franchise is now bigger than ever – and it shows.

To be honest, I hesitated quite  a bit about this movie. I didn`t like the first movie (too shaky, too messy, too grimy), and I also didn`t like the second book (don`t know why, but I just overall did not like it, kind of like the level of excitement and tension from the first book dropped halfway through and didn`t pick up again until well into the third book). This combination made me very worried about the second film.

I shouldn`t have worried. The film makers have picked up wonderfully. The budget is obviously much bigger, which means the outfits and the effects are much better too.

Jennifer Lawrence was on top of her game here, with emotion surging through everything she said and did. The same goes for Josh Hutcherson. I loved the casting for Johanna and Finnick. There was plenty of character development to go around, with as best example aside from the obvious ones, Effie. She went from sheer pride to having Katniss and Peeta in the game, to feeling so, so sorry for everything they were going through. You could see that she went from enjoying the Games and basking in the luxury, to hating what it does to her friends.

I especially appreciate the better camerawork though: the first movie was really very shaky, in that kind of way that`s supposed to show things are dramatic and intense and raw except that they often weren`t at that point. This second movie, even though the story is exploding into things much worse, is camera-wise much more calm and stable. In a way, it very much puts things into perspective – look how calm and detached this is, look how far we`ve gotten, isn`t it horrible.

The movie stuck so close to the book, that even though it`s been a while since I read the book (almost a year by now), it felt like a literal film version. It`s heart-wrenching, disturbing, but oh so fascinating. And isn`t that why we`re all in it?

If you haven`t read the books though, I recommend reading them first. There are quite a lot of things they didn`t have the time to explain in the movie, and it helps to know the background the books provide.

I`m not going to call this movie a masterpiece. It`s not, and it will never be. There`s a lot I would have done very differently (and I really do mean a LOT). But it`s a good movie, especially if you`ve read the books and loved them.

All in all, I`m not particularly biased when it comes to the Hunger Games. So yes, if you love the series and the first film, go watch this one. You`ll love it. If you`re not very invested in it, like me, you`ll enjoy the film and you`ll walk out of it relatively okay and mostly forget about it again because of other, more pressing matters.

What did you guys think of this movie? Did you enjoy it? Are you nervous already for the last book (spread out over two films)? Let me know down in the comments!

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