Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become icons – yet targets – after their previous Hunger Games result. The Capitol want them to pay for causing such a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

And by God, do the Capitol have the ultimate revenge for the pair…

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I would like to state that I absolutely hate stories like this. Books like this. Series trilogies like this. And I thought the first movie very cheesy.

..I bloody loved The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. And enjoyed every blazing second.

Cast

The ensemble who make this movie possible are full of dynamics; from strong girls and boys who sit on the fence, to alien-like assistants and aggressive guardians, its mad – and these are before we’ve met the other Hunger Games contestants..

Jennifer Lawrence honestly couldn’t be more suited to Katniss. Since being given the character, she has embraced her with such passion. That tough face which hardly moves (unless she’s crying) and wide, empty eyes give Katniss the boost she needs. And let’s face it; no one can cry as easily as Jennifer – she’s like a human Thames Water under there.

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Josh Hutcherson is good, but just like Robin is to Batman, he appears more of the quiet, retiring sidekick instead of rising to the strength level Jennifer is at – perhaps this is supposed to be what his character is like, but still. He is completely overshadowed by his female colleague.

Woody Harrelson is icing on the cake in this movie. Aggressive yet compassionate at the same time, he delivers Haymitch effortlessly and with such a joyous attitude, that most of the audience were LOL’ing whenever he was on screen. Superb.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket is juicy, a complete sugar overdose – her amazingly out-of-this-world character is incredibly diverse. The costume, the personality – Elizabeth has made Effie her own, and almost appears as a sort of alien than a fellow human being.

Terrifying Concept

The whole Hunger Games concept is bloody scary, is it not? Adults announcing to children, “off you go sweetie, go play hide and seek in that giant forest. Oh, but only on one condition – you have to kill the other players. Have fun!”

The concept reminds me of Goosebumps books (remember those?) – a twisted experience which becomes a great story.

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I love the whole thing of Katniss rising on a podium.. because you know ‘this is it’. In this sequel, the second the sun hits her face as she slowly rises up into the wilderness, I felt a pang of excitement – a kind of ‘uh-oh, here we go..’ feeling. Yes, screw the rest of the movie with its standing around talking about how shit the world is – its the actual games we want. BRING IT ON!

The Contestants

At one point, Katniss and Peeta sit down and Haymitch switches on a TV – and introduces them to their fellow contestants..

I loved this bit. What we get is a unique display of completely bonkers characters. This lot are a mixed bag; which to be honest, is an understatement. The second their faces appear on screen I was fascinated. You know when you’re confronted with something so diverse that it makes you laugh a little? Welcome to the team. The dynamics are certain to cause explosive results..

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Sky TV

..no, I don’t mean ‘as many channels as you can for just £17.99 a month, including broadband’ – I genuinely mean: sky television.

Whenever a person, or a handful of people die during the Hunger Games, a huge television screen is lit up in the sky above the area the contestants are currently surviving in. A fanfare blasts out, and then pictures of the deceased contestants are shown, with patriotic music playing in the background.

And it scares me. It really does! The whole display is like some futuristic funeral; as the deceased look down over the living, the living looking back up at them, and the music plays out their ending.. the entire concept of this sends a shiver down my spine. But its brilliant – subtly epic and a little emotional, and well received as the welcome break between the hatred, before returning to normal.

“Hey – Is Thing Still On?..”

A special live on-stage Hunger Games warm-up is aired every year; hosted by a terrifyingly smiley presenter. But (and call me nit-picker here) how come he uses a microphone?..

Caeser Flickerman stands on stage, announcing the contestants and giving us the general lowdown on the events which are about to unfold, and does so – through a microphone. I queried this. Because with all these robotic men (Peacekeepers) marching around, hovering space vehicles, televisions broadcast from the sky, digital defence training machines…

..and this guy stands on stage, amongst floating people – with a microphone in his hand.

I just – ye know, I just thought – all that technology, surely he’d be able to present the show from a pod floating next to the moon, or from his own home even – projected as a hologram? I queried this.

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The Forever Plan

During the movie we see President Snow and his associate bad guy Plutarch Heavensbee plot to bring about the downfall of Katniss, after the rebellion she has caused within her district. But it seems to go on forever! The first ‘main bad boy sat in his chair’ scene got me thinking, “ah, great. This is the man who’s going to cause a lot of trouble – bring it on”..

..another chair scene, this time with Plutarch announcing a genius plot to trap Katniss.

…OK, one more scene between the two, and surely –

..another scene.

“for Christ sake!”, I thought to myself (chin resting on palm of hand), “just DO IT already!” – these two seemed to drag out their screen time wonderfully. Just never got round to anything. Why do bad guys hundreds of years in our future have to be so bloody noble, wise, and lingering?

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The movie continues with Katniss and Peeta taking part in the 75th Hunger Games. The pair have acted up for the cameras, announcing that they are to be married soon – and that Katniss is pregnant. This causes uproar between various people, and  dumbfounds President Snow.

A short train ride with Haymitch and Effie leads to an emotional introduction, as Katniss and Peeta are made to stand on stage and face the families effected by the previous Hunger Games – with giant television screens showing the sad faces of the deceased players from the year before also. Their families stand beneath the screens, crying.

This bit is what swung it for me; the bit where I realised these movies aren’t just ‘a bunch of kids pissing about in a giant forest, whacking each other’ – underlying this aggression is a sore story of our future humanity having to endure hellish rules, just to stay alive – where they aren’t living, but existing.

The Games

The games themselves are nasty, aren’t they!? In this one, we have a gargantuan forest which is split into different sections; one part gets swamped in a massive tidal wave hourly, another is crawling with vicious man-eating little monkey things, another oozes poison smoke which rolls toward whoever is caught in its path with nasty speed.. 

At one point I thought, “who’s supposed to be killing who?” – it seemed as though the game-maker’s threw in a load of booby traps to kill of the contestants before they could actually hunt each other. Sending a bunch of people into a forest to kill each other, but the creators try to kill the contestants off themselves.. the point of sending them into the forest being?!..

I haven’t read the books myself, so I’m sure I’ve missed a point or two there.

WARNING FOR THOSE WHO GET FREAKED OUT EASILY:

Cover your ears at the point Katniss hears her sister screaming for her in the middle of the forest.

(what follows is an ugly attack by a flock of birds who all start screaming and wailing like human beings, resulting in a terrifying ordeal for Katniss)

The noise of all the people screaming was as sinister as you can get. I felt really uneasy, engulfed in such scary noise!

Costumes

Incredible. Enough said.

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Overall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire completely won me over. It kept me entertained throughout with its excellent fluidity, and the dynamics from both cast and set vibrated way beyond the screen. 

Oh, and the ending.. you may be very surprised.

Let’s just say – I’m certain there’ll be a third instalment…

8/10

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2013 by .
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