The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Reason for the Rating: Intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Plot Summary: After a stunning victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are once again forced to enter the arena and fight for their lives.
PopFam Recommends: Heart-pounding drama and suspense that most teens (and their action-loving parents) will enjoy.
Disappointment. That was all I could feel after watching the first Hunger Games movie. Thankfully, the second film in that franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, stepped up its game and (possibly) saved this series! I was far more entertained and satisfied with the transfer from page to screen in this sequel.
Catching Fire begins a few months after the end of the first Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have returned to their homes in District 12 and are doing their best to get back to normal life. But life cannot get back fully to normal because now they are Hunger Games victors (the yearly survival “game” in which 2 teenage participants from each of the populated world’s 12 districts must fight to the death for the entertainment of governing class).
After spinning a tale of true love that was only true for Peeta, both were able to make it out of the vicious Hunger Games arena alive—even though rules stated that only one of them should have been able to survive. Katniss and Peeta forced a rules change by threatening enact a suicide pact instead of trying kill each other. The gambit worked, but this action has had great consequences.
What was originally meant by Katniss to be only a way to get herself and Peeta out alive turned into the spark of a revolution! But the Hunger Games heroine doesn’t want to be a revolutionary. She just wants to get back to living a quiet life in District 12.
Now Katniss is world famous and believed to be in love with Peeta. She herself cannot quite figure out whether her emotions towards him were real or fake, but she must go on pretending to truly love him. As part of the ritual, the victors must go on tour to the other 11 districts and give speeches. Throughout their travels, Peeta and Katniss start to see signs of the brewing revolution they unwittingly set in motion.
In an effort to end the revolution, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), plot a way to get rid of Katniss and Peeta. For the 75th Hunger Games, they declare that instead of the normal teenagers that go into the arena to kill each other, this year only previous victors are allowed to be picked. As Katniss is the only living female victor from District 12, that means that she’ll be going back into the dreaded arena. Will she be able to survive and keep Peeta alive again, or will the Capitol finally win out and put an end the spawning rebellion?
When I originally read the Hunger Games books, I finished them within days and once I was done, I went ahead and read them again. I greatly enjoyed the stories and was both excited and nervous to see them come to the big screen. As the credits rolled during the first Hunger Games, my nervousness proved to be right. I was disappointed in many of the elements of the movie. Catching Fire however did not disappoint me. I still much prefer the book, but this second installment stayed far closer to the original text—and brought it vividly to life.
My biggest issue with the first movie was that there seemed to be little to no character building. It just jumped around from points of high action or intensity without ever really letting the viewer get a feel for the characters. That is still present to a smaller degree in Catching Fire, but there was definite emphasis put on helping viewers discover who these characters are this time.
Where the first Hunger Games film had me feeling left out or detached from the world being created, Catching Fire did a much better job to engage me. This was not only in character development, but also in maintaining a visually stimulating world. There were many varied environments, both visually and economically. This was shown very well and it was always easy to quickly grasp the feelings or situations going on in different places.
There were occasional moments where I could see that someone who hasn’t read the books would not understand what was going on. Usually this could’ve been remedied just by a few short lines of dialogue, so I felt that some confusion could’ve been avoided. Luckily, these times were very few and none extremely important to the overall story.
Throughout Catching Fire, there are a lot of serious and thematic elements that continually arise as the characters are stretched emotionally and physically. There are also several scenes of intense action and violence. I’d recommend this movie to teenagers and up. For younger teens, I’d recommend that parents check it out first.
On the Blu-Ray version of Catching Fire, there is very little in the way of special features. Deleted scenes are included, but no “blooper reel” (which I think is more fun). There is a 9-part, feature-length documentary about the “making of” this movie, so depending on your family’s level of fandom that’ll be either very exciting or a microscopic bore. You’ll have to decide that one for yourself.
Still, for fans of the Hunger Games books or the first movie, Catching Fire itself certainly holds its own and is worth viewing.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
•Who do you listen to when there are many people wanting you to act different ways like the many people around Katniss?
• Did Katniss do the right thing pretending to love Peeta, or should she have told the truth? Why?
• Katniss ended up in the Hunger Games to protect her sister. How far will we go for those we love, and those who love us?
Tags: Hunger Games,Catching Fire,Katniss,Peeta,Jennifer Lawrence,Josh Hutcherson,Philip Seymour Hoffman,Suzanne Collins,President Snow
Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.