Word: Marta Catalano
Catching Fire is probably one of the most awaited movies of the year, with countless numbers of fans longing for trailers, info, interviews and pictures of the cast on set ever since the sequel was announced. The second chapter of the Hunger Games trilogy sees the adventures of the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen, taking a darker turn as she and Peeta Mellark have to fight for their lives in the Hunger Games once again. This time though, the danger lies outside the arena as well: rebellions are spreading throughout the districts of Panem, undermining the controlled system of the Capitol.
Those who were worried about the change of director do not need to fear: Francis Lawrence has done a great job conveying the Suzanne Collins’ novel into a compelling movie. Jennifer Lawrence is great in her performance as always, showing her ability to commit completely to the role of Katniss Everdeen. Her admirable acting should hopefully stop the concerns and complaints about the body image of her character. As some of you might already know, many discussed (and are still discussing) Lawrence not being skinny enough to portray a girl who should be suffering from years of starvation. In a recent interview with BBC Newsnight, Jennifer explained how deeply conscious she is about portraying this body image to younger girls in particular, and how important it is for her. Perhaps, some of the people who make those complaints should become conscious of the fact that the main point of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy was not really Katniss being extremely skinny because of hunger, but rather focuses instead on her courage and strength. The theme of famine, in effect, interplays with other themes such as independence, government control, rebellion, hope, and strength which were all well displayed in the movie.
Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and the other actors already present in the first movie continued to play their characters pretty well, following the novel and making its characters more alive. The chemistry between them is tangible and makes the movie more effective to the audience. The romantic interplay between Katniss and Peeta is well portrayed because the audience often feels a sense of ambiguity, especially coming from Katniss’ mixed feelings.
There were also new faces on screen: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) and Norwich local lad Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair) were among the newcomers to the set and their roles were incredibly well played. They all worked really hard, especially after some of the complaints that this casting received, like the outcry over Claflin’s casting as Finnick. Nonetheless, he was actually very capable of playing the character and fitted into the cast’s chemistry, both in the scenes outside and inside the arena. Hoffman was described by the director as “one of the best actors one the planet” and he confirmed himself to be just that here, playing the role of Plutarch with aplomb and proving himself to be wonderfully suited to play the new scheming Gamesmaster with an ulterior motive.
The costume design deserves particular mention. It definitely feels like a lot of attention was put on the costumes’ design, and this definitely made an impact to the movie. The darker feel mentioned before was well conveyed through the use of dusky outfits chosen by the designers throughout the scenes. In effect, costumes play an important role in the saga and especially in this episode: Katniss’ wedding dress which President Snow forces her to wear turns into a Mockingjay one, carrying a feel of defiance towards the control imposed by the Capitol.
However, although altogether really well made, this movie perhaps feels a bit too long and slow at the beginning, whilst rushing things to the conclusion in the second act. Some people have also felt like the movie focused too much on the unclear romance between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale and that it took away time from the action. Personally I feel that whilst it may dwell on the romance a bit too much, this was also necessary for the understanding and development of the story.
Nonetheless, this movie was definitely worth the wait and it is a movie you don’t want to miss! Now the fans can only wait for Mockinjay, the next and last episode (which will be split in two parts) and hope that it will be as good, if not better, as this one was!