The sun persists in rising, so i make myself stand.
I’m a huge fan of Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games (2012) that i became a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I think i even love the film better than the book at that time and ended up finishing the entire trilogy within a week. So it’s only natural that i looked forward to Catching Fire, not only because it was my favorite installment out of the book trilogy, but because i wanted to see how the franchise would develop. When i heard Ross is refusing to direct further sequel based on the appointed schedules, i was a bit apprehensive by the possible changes, especially since it’s Ross’ personal touch and editing eye that made the film all the more coherent, especially when compared to the book. So when Francis Lawrence was appointed as the director, along with several new casting decisions for some major characters, i could not help but feel a little bit nervous about the future of the franchise.
After becoming the victors of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return to district 12 and stay at the Victors’ Village along with Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). Katniss tried to go back to her everyday life of hunting and mending her relationship with Gale Hawthrone (Liam Hemsworth). However her resposibility as victors force her to go on the victory tour and keep the illusion of the star-crossed lover with Peeta. But pressure come from President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who saw her as a threat that sparks a beginning of rebellion in Panem. When President Snow was trying to put a stop on Katniss, the new gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) suggest a different way to eliminate her instead. By putting a twist in the third quarter quell, there’s nothing as macabre as having the 75th Hunger Games with previous Victors as the tributes, isn’t it?
With almost twice the budget of the original installment we can see the studio spare no expense to glam up the entire franchise. Well let’s take it literally as Trish Summerville commercialized the franchise and launched a capsule collection with Net-a-Porter.com inspired from the look of the film, just like what she did with Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and H&M. Isn’t it ironic though? As Francis Lawrence replace Gary Ross as the director, changes also occurred in the entire structure for the crew of the film, except for James Newton Howard who kept his post as the film music composer. Surprisingly enough, you can still feel similar looks with Ross’ vision. I remember N recalled that somebody said that Francis Lawrence have no significant style which actually work for the franchise’s favor, as they can hold on to the style that Ross created in the first installment and just follow through from that point.
Following similar pattern to its predecessor, the film is divided into sections. It begins in District 12, where Katniss and Peeta have a new life as the newly crowned victors; It continues to the capitol; and finally it ended in The Arena. I think all the good things in the second film: world building, plot development, character development are well established thanks to the first installment, allowing new characters to blend almost seamlessly with very little introductions. There were subtle differences for sure, such as the look of capital that are richer in textures compared to the first film, but it did not matter much. The Arena itself, of course, is better, but it really go according to the source material. I have to applaud the special effect and production design to create a fascinatingly scary segments of the arena, it was intense indeed! It is pretty clear the same desensitization of humanity still at play here, although it was more toned down in favor of showcasing the intricacies of politics in Panem. Something that we should see more in the upcoming sequels. Award-winning screenwriter Danny Strong who’s known for his work that delved into the world of political intricacies, i really hoped that the script would be way better than the final book (which i personally think was duller and have a lot of fat to trim, compared to its two predecessors).
The beginning of the film really explores Katniss post-Hunger Games. The subtle PTSD hallucinations was heartbreaking to witness. Jennifer Lawrence really blossomed in her role and brought the troubled soul within Katniss. She grew up from the strong survivor she was in Hunger Games and brought more vulnerability and weariness to her character. Seeing her development in Mockingjay should be very fascinating indeed. Peeta continues to be charming and be the all around selfless nice guy who is just devoted to Katniss (this is the guy to marry, dear Katniss! Gale? What Gale?!). I am glad Woody Harrelson is showing another layers of character behind that whiskey soaked exterior, while Donald Sutherland continues to be the sheer evil that he is. New character to reckon is Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the new gamemaker, i hope to see more of him in future sequel of course. Jena Malone as well as Sam Claflin was strong in their respective roles as previous victors. I am especially quite taken by Claflin easy charm as Finnick Odair, not really my first choice for the role but he brought enough substance to the character. I have to say my absolute favorite was Elizabeth Banks in her recurring role of Effie Trinkett, who seemed to be very superficial at times and yet show her hearts through some of her earnest gestures.
Unlike its predecessor which have somekind of open-ended closure, Catching Fire ended with a violent cliffhanger! But overall it was still such a good follow up to the sequel. I am personally believe all the good things here are a follow through of what Gary Ross did in the first film. So i am glad that Francis Lawrence did not change a lot from the pre-existing installments. But who am i kidding, i was still excited by the amount of Peeta x Finnick
kiss mouth-to-mouth CPR here. Oh of course i’m excited for Mockingjay(s) too…
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)
GENRE Science Fiction, Dystopia, Thriller, Adventure
DIRECTOR France Lawrence | PRODUCER Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik | WRITER Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt | MUSIC James Newton Howard | CINEMATOGRAPHER Jo Willems | PRODUCTION DESIGN Phillip Messina | COSTUME DESIGN Trish Summerville | EDITOR Alan Edward Bell | STUDIO Color Force | DISTRIBUTOR Lionsgate | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $130 million | RUNNING TIME 146 minutes | RATING PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frighteing images, thematic elements, suggestive situation, and language | RELEASE November 22, 2013 (US), November 21, 2013 (ID)
STARRING Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Toby Jones, Lynn Cohen, Amanda Plummer, Willow Shields
Look at this fabulous image for Catching Fire IMAX poster, created by artist Kris Kuksi. Gorgeous!
DID YOU KNOW? The second installment really were not kidding about glamming up their marketing approach. A series of photographs featuring each characters in designers outfit against a green backdrop. Katniss wore the Tex Saverio wedding dress (it’s good to see a representative of Indonesia in the international world). Effie wore three different McQueen dresses in the film: the monarch butterfly dress (SS2011), as well as the fuchsia and lilac ones (both from AW2012).