‘Catching Fire’ a fine sequel

Dec 2 2013 - 11:07am

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MURRAY CLOSE/Lionsgate
Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role of Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
MURRAY CLOSE/Lionsgate
Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role of Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

The girl on fire has survived the Hunger Games, but her life is still anything but normal.

The entire country has seen Katniss defy the Capitol on national television, and the Capitol is angry. Everything is at stake as the Victory Tour is about to commence, and Katniss realizes she must convince the nation that she is in love with Peeta. But can she also convince herself what she does or doesn't believe about anything anymore?

A big change for this next installment in "The Hunger Games" film series is a new director. Gary Ross, director of the first movie, announced he would no longer direct the sequel. His place was taken by Francis Lawrence, director of "I Am Legend," and he did a fabulous job.

Since the last film, Prim is a lot more grown up than the little girl we saw screaming while being carried away from her sister who volunteered in her place. When Gale is brutally whipped by the new, strict head peacekeeper of District 12, Prim shows a lot of medical knowledge as she helps her mom care for him.

One hurdle that both "Hunger Games" films have to overcome is portraying the first-person narrative of the books in a movie. But I think they are really good at finding ways to show the thoughts of Katniss in the book by representing them with actions or words.

The Capitol wants revenge, and they are quickly realizing that the victors of previous games are their biggest upcoming threat. Every 25 years, the Capitol changes the Hunger Games to be a "Quarter Quell," in which a terrible twist is added to make the games especially awful. (And I really do apologize for this spoiler, but then again, numerous movie reviews and the trailer itself gave this away, and you've probably already heard people talking about it.) This time, tributes are to be chosen from the existing pool of victors. Katniss is going back into the arena.

Something I love about "Catching Fire" is that this time, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has a lot more allies with her fellow tributes. You get to know all the other tributes a lot better, and with new tributes come new characters. My favorites were Mags, Finnick and Johanna. Each of these characters are introduced so well that you can understand their personality the moment you first see them. Mags was a silent, caring old woman who reminded me of a loving grandmother. Finnick was just like he was described in the book -- charming, crazy and extremely flirtatious. And then there was Johanna. She was so weird, awkward, vicious and out of control, but most likely the funniest character in the movie. (Sorry, Effie.)

On that note, there was quite a bit of humor in this movie. It was just enough that the movie wasn't too dark, but not too much that you didn't take it seriously or it made light of dramatic scenes.

The arena was amazing. Filmed in Hawaii, it was comprised of a beautiful rainforest, large jungle mountains in the distance and a large water formation with the cornucopia in the center. It was pretty ironic; it was so beautiful but such ugly things happened in the arena. Once you got deep into the jungle, it turned scary. Filled with terrible terrors, the scariest things included poisonous fog that burned like acid on your skin and giant packs of howling baboons that could tear you apart. And the mockingjays that mimicked the voices of your loved ones screaming for help were extremely unnerving.

A lot of people I talked to about the movie said they thought it was extremely sad. My eyes started to well up when Katniss gives a tribute to Rue while speaking in front of District 11, and it was really compelling when the Morphling from District 6 dies to save Peeta, among many other sad moments.

One last thing I want to comment on is the climax scene. I can't give too much away, of course, but I thought it was absolutely incredible how it was portrayed. Overall, "Catching Fire" was an extremely good adaptation. It followed the book very well; I could only think of a few small changes when I thought really hard to compare the two, and even then it wasn't anything I couldn't understand why they couldn't fit in the movie.

"Catching Fire" was amazing. The filmography and scenes were breathtaking, especially the arena and the Capitol. The acting was great, the arena was terrifying, and the movie held you on the edge of your seat.

And remember to look beyond the surface; "The Hunger Games" series is more than just a series about televised fights to the death. It's a story about standing up for what you believe in and the people you love, knowing right from wrong, and not giving in to evil even when its influence is everywhere.

Nathan Beeston is a senior at Syracuse High. Email him at bcbeeston@comcast.net.

 

Watch a trailer for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

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