J Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

(Warning: The following article contains spoilers from the movie “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Imagine Boy Abunda playing the role of Caesar Flickerman. Imagine Kathryn Bernardo as Katniss Everdeen. Imagine Daniel Padilla as Peeta Mellark. And imagine Enrique Gil as Gale Hawthorne.

Scary right?

Every fan of survivalist competition shows Survivor and Big Brother (and to an extent, newbie comp show Capture) knows that production always have a hand in manipulating events in the game to reach an ideal outcome in the end. “Expect the Unexpected” and “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” are mottos that are in essence the running theme of these types of competition where strategy, alliances and luck are key factors to long-term survival.

In the case of the second instalment of The Hunger Games, entitled Catching Fire, it has become something more.

A little backgrounder: A year after the events of the first film, Katniss and Peeta have once again found themselves in the thick of things after the Capital, the post-apocalyptic political center controlling the entire country, took wind of the growing seeds of defiance being shown by the citizens of the 12 districts. To add to the pair’s problems was that they were to compete again in an all-star Hunger Games quarterly quell to mark 75 years since the rebellion against the Capital was put down. The Capital brought back 12 pairs of all-star victors from past games to take part in a battle to the very death, with only one survivor getting the chance to feed his/her home district.

Imagine President Snow as The Hunger Games; answer to Big Brother EP Allison Grodner, only worse and without the ugly hair.

The second film has the right balance of slowing down and hastening the pace of the story when needed. Thus it is very important for people wanting to see Catching Fire to watch every single scene because towards the end, every question you may have as you watch the film would all make sense. I must say, because of the increased ante, it avoided becoming repetitive with its predecessor (and considering Catching Fire is based from a series of books, shouldn’t that be expected?). I highly recommend to those who are new to The Hunger Games to either/both read the books and watch the first film to gain a better understanding.

Unlike the first film, there were a lot of development to things that happened prior to the games itself, including life at District 12 the year after Katniss won, her nationwide victory tour with Peeta, and the lead-up to the 75th Hunger Games. The games itself only covered the remaining third of the film.

For those who have watched it, you may have caught wind to a lot of context clues planted around several key scenes of the movie. It was great storytelling technique on the part of production to leave us hanging because the entire film felt incomplete, with a lot of questions hovering over our heads. Were Finnick, Johanna of District 7, and the black dude with glasses all production plants, sent to aid Katniss?

What did make sense was that the entirety of the game was fixed in favor of Katniss. She noticed something wasn’t quite right as the game progresses as well as the fact that she didn’t die while the big rock island at the center of the lake was spinning like crazy. For those who haven’t read the books like me, it’s one dead giveaway, enough of a hint that the inevitable revolution have already set things in motion from within.

As with any teen-centric movie, Katniss is the Joey to Gale’s Dawson and Peeta’s Pacey. She has feelings for both men but can’t determine which of those are at all real. It pains to see her having to play along with the showmance knowing Peeta have lingering if not strong romantic feelings towards her beyond mere friendship. Then there’s the thing with Gale who she has shared a strong bond of childhood friendship that have blossomed to something more than just bows and arrows prior to her becoming a tribute the previous year.

I’m not sure how much the film deviated from the books but I’m certain this one can please both fans of the books and otherwise. I plan on reading the series myself, probably before the release of the final two films.

How will Katniss lead a revolution of defiance she has started from the first movie? How will the triangle between her, Gale and Peeta unfold itself? And will President Snow ever find the time to shave his beard? I guess we will have to wait for the 2-part final installment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay to get our answers.

May the odds be ever in our favor as we wait for Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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