With Harry Potter and the Twilight franchises now defunct, The Hunger Games has easily taken the crown as the most anticipated franchise around. With the signature mockingjay theme tune set to whistle its way to the box office once again, the franchises second installment is set for international release this week and we were invited to an advance screening of the latest film to see if it was worth its pre-release hype. The short answer: Hell YES it is!
During the first instalment of the franchise we were introduced to lead character Katniss Everdeen, played by the incredible Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, X:Men) who volunteers in place of her younger sister to take part in the 74th Hunger Games, a vicious competition run by a tyrannical ruler of the post-apocalyptic world in which the film is set where children are taken away from their respective ‘districts’ to compete for their lives against other district tributes in order to be crowned the winner of The Hunger Games and live out their days in wealth among the high society snobs of the colourful Capitol.
In the first instalment, Katniss and fellow district 12 male tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are declared joint winners of the Hunger Games after a last minute competition twist, much to the irritation of its ruler – a revenge that consequently unfolds throughout Catching Fire. Following the win the pair is sent from the forest set battleground back to their district and this is where the latest film picks up. As the rebellion, instigated by the hope Katniss has given her people and the fellow districts, begins to rise against the Capitol and its ruler ahead of the 75th Hunger Games or the 3rd Quarter Quell as they call it, a new twist is thrown into the story that sees Katniss back in the Games, battling a whole new myriad of opponents as well as a plethora of deadly obstacles that takes this latest film to a whole new level of suspense and inhumaneness.
While its predecessor was powerful in its delivery of violence and teenage sacrificial brutality, Catching Fire takes it up a couple of notches and invites us into a much deeper story behind the history of the Hunger Games and its oppressing conception as well as the lengths a tyrannical ruler will go to ensure history never repeats.
Within the intense storyline, Catching Fire comes with more than a handful of surprises and while I don’t intend to spoil anything in this review, I can tell you that they will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire 140 minute duration of the film.
The incredible cast ensemble that joined Jennifer Lawrence in the first have regrouped for this second instalment of the hugely popular franchise including the handsome Liam Hemsworth as Katniss’ love interest Gale , Woody Harrelson reprises his role as the scorned former Hunger Games victor Haymitch Abernathy, Donald Sutherland returns as President Coriolanus Snow, the antagonist ruler of the Games and the quirky and colourful Elizabeth Banks dons another myriad of outrageously fun costumes, including an eye catching Monarch butterfly dress in the middle of the film, in her role as Effie Trinket. Joining them is Academy Award Winner Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays Plutarch Heavensbee and who steals more than a few scenes with his convincingly ruthless disposition as Head Gamemaker.
Catching Fire is a spectacular continuation of this incredible franchise with memorable and accolade worthy performances by almost every single person that makes the story so gripping to watch and is without doubt one of the best films of the year!
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