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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Hunger Games - Round 2

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire.

After her stunt at the end of the 74th Hunger Games that saved the lives and the “love” of both Katniss and Peeta, a stir of rebellion is beginning to rumble throughout the Districts. To quell the potential of another uprising and destroy the image of Katniss as a symbolic representation of change, President Snow threatens Katniss and all of those she loves, demanding that she play a role whose image is more complicit to the power of the Capitol. As this increasingly fails, Snow and his new Head Gamemaker Heavensbee take advantage of a special rule surrounding every 25th edition of the Hunger Games called a Quarter Quell. Changing the rules of eligibility, Snow ensures that Katniss is once again entered into the Games where either her image or her body will suffer.

After much deliberation over the ending, which I’ll get to soon, I scored the movie a 9. Here’s the breakdown:

Originality: I took a point away from The Hunger Games here because it followed the same dystopian tropes as any others, but I also said I wouldn’t hold this against it from here on out so I won’t. Though I must acknowledge, in fairness, that we are still going from a dystopian world to an event that is a catalyst for revolution to revolution, with is trope-ish but also, genre-defining. Maybe I just need to watch through more of these kinds of movies to better understand the genre-defining tropes and how they differ case by case.
Originality: 2 points

Characters: Especially with the context of the first movie, we have a better sense of the world they live in which creates a better understanding of what to expect from the characters. There’s a sense of resentment or awkwardness between Katniss and Peeta during the year between films. They did what they had to do and now they were home and had to awkwardly go back to their lives before. Later we have Haymitch, Effie, and Cinna returning to their official roles assisting the Tributes of District 12 (as Haymitch narrowly escapes being a Tribute himself). Now, seeing these games more of a mission because of Snow, they’re more driven and focused on helping the Tributes, particularly Katniss, as she’s become a symbol of hope for Pan-Am.

Snow is still the controlling leader of the people of Pan-Am forcing his will upon the people by any means necessary.

Given the events of the 74th Games and the Victory Tour, all the players are in their places. Makes sense to me.
Characters: 2 points

Story: The events of the 74th Hunger Games, more specifically, the actions of Katniss have inspired the Districts leading them to push for change, and by change I mean revolution. As the champions Katniss and Peeta prepare for their Victory Tour of the Districts, President Snow warns Katniss that she needs to keep up appearances and walk in step with the Capitol at the risk of harm to her family and Gale, the guy she actually loves.

Part of “keeping up appearances” includes maintaining the charade of Peeta and Katniss being “star-crossed lovers” which upsets Gale back home, but this seems to have minimal impact on the story. Katniss is, at times, torn between existing feelings for Gale and feelings for Peeta that are ever-developing because of the struggles they’re going through together.

This fails as a bit of ad-libbing by Peeta and Katniss indirectly encourages a bruhaha that leads to the execution of a man in the crowd. This triggers uprisings throughout the District during the tour.

Snow isn’t happy. Snow and Heavensbee use the upcoming 75th Hunger Games also referred to as the 3rd Quarter Quell. Think of it as a special edition of the Hunger Games every 25 years, hence the name, and this time the pool of potential Tributes comes from the surviving Victors in each district. Katniss, the only surviving female Victor is selected with the male selected between Haymitch and Peeta. Haymitch is selected, but Peeta volunteers as Tribute so he’s in. The collective of Tributes want the games canceled, but it doesn’t happen - The Games are on.

The Games take place, as they did the year before, with a new arena built and a new environment. The Capitol’s goal here is to tarnish the image of Katniss to destroy her as a symbol of hope to weaken the will of the would-be revolutionaries.

This is a logical progression for the story supported by the previous movie and the action of the characters. Very sensible sequel.
Story: 2 points

Ending: This is where I took a point. Like the year before, there are some Tributes that are just in it for the victory. Katniss and Peeta team up with a few of the other Victors that were recruited, for lack of a better term, by Haymitch on Katniss and Peeta’s behalf, and they work together to solve the puzzle driving the Games. The arena is designed like a clock and there’s a tree that is struck by lightning at noon and midnight. The plan is to attach a wire to the tree and lead it to the lagoon at the center of the “clock” and lure in other Tributes there to eliminate them all at once.

This plan is thwarted by the two remaining “career Tributes” and we start to realize that’s another plan in place. Johanna, a Tribute from District 7 in their alliance, cubs Katniss once they realize they’re being followed and about to be attacked. Johanna cuts Katniss and tells her to stay down. When the coast is clear, Katniss runs to find Peeta and sees Finnick of District 4, also in their alliance, but doesn’t know if she can trust him until he reminds her to “remember who the real enemy is, something that was previously said to her by, I think Haymitch. Katniss takes the wire that’s attached to the tree, ties it to one of her arrows, and fires the arrow into the Perimeter as the lightning strikes the tree, blowing out the power and causing structural damage to the arena. She is then airlifted out of the arena.

She awakes on the airship where she finds Haymitch, Finnick (who she didn’t truly trust), and Heavensbee which causes her great confusion.

Turns out that everything was a ploy to get ignite a revolution with Katniss at the head as their Mockingjay. The Tributes she was working with were in on it. When Johanna cut Katniss in the Games, she was removing her tracking device. Because Snow was watching her so closely, it was important that Katniss knew as little as possible. Unfortunately, the Capitol managed to get Peeta and Johanna.

Katniss, in her anger, is sedated and wakes again with Gale by her side. Gale informs her that after the Games, the Capital sent in airships and dropped firebombs on District 12 and it’s now destroyed, though her family is safe.

For whatever reason, this seems like a jump to me. Maybe it’s the way things unfolded so quickly at the end. Maybe it’s the “the plan was always to get you out” line that Heavensbee drops on her in the airship. They managed to get her (and Beetee, another Tribute who came up with the Tree plan and was knocked out just prior to the lightning strike) but not Peeta and Johanna…

I don’t know, it didn’t sit well enough with me to give it full points, but not so bad that it deserved none.
Ending: 1 point
Enjoyment: 2 points

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