In my opinion, The Hunger Games (2012) is not a very good movie. The books essentially rehash a generic dystopian government tale and market it to a young adult audience. Not that there’s anything really wrong with this though. It can serve as a gateway to other, better, cinema and literature. And other than the constant annoying references, people who aren’t interested can just attempt to ignore it. However, when adapting a book about kids killing kids, the MPAA creates an issue. When your main audience is in its adolescence, an ‘R’ rating is out of the question. To keep it ‘PG-13’, the original Hunger Games avoided showing any of the consequences of the violence, and missed the tone entirely. Playing up every aspect except the brutality, The Hunger Games did exactly what it preaches against. However, with a shift in directors, Catching Fire is a significant improvement from its predecessor.
The twist for this movie is that instead of drafting 24 kids to fight to the death, only past winners of the games will be considered. With this ploy, the movie is able to be more explicit with it’s depiction of the Battle Royale, as well as bring quality actors into supporting roles – including Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, and Sam Claflin. However, with so many characters, many get left to the wayside. Nearly half of the contestants are never mentioned. You see them for the first time after they’ve died, which essentially reduces them to a number.
The people who say they watch the movies for the social commentary are lying. The entire message can be summed up with a simple “Class Warfare = bad.” However, I do think this movie does a good job at depicting a government trying to keep control of its people. There isn’t much of a change in President Snow (Donald Sutherland), but the addition of Philip Seymour Hoffman as the new “Game-maker” adds an interesting element. And Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), the ambassador to District 12, significantly develops as a character.
The movie still struggles with pacing, has numerous logistical inconsistencies, and could benefit from an ‘R’ rating, but nonetheless it still manages to be pretty entertaining. If you liked the first movie, you’ll like this movie. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t recommend you rush out to see it, but you might not hate it as much as the first movie. 7/10.