Saturday, November 30, 2013
Remember who the real enemy is
Between the release of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Jennifer Lawrence hype boosted exponentially, everyone in the movie seems to have become more attractive and new technology married more honed film direction to deliver - after much anticipation - a satisfying sequel.
By now, Jennifer Lawrence's acting prowess is near-indisputable, Stanley Tucci's bleached teeth and infectious chortle are delightable, and newcomer Sam Claflin (who has come a long way since playing bullied-by-Captain Sparrow Philip Swift), nailing Finnick, is a welcome embellishment to the film.
Jena Malone is also - no other word for it - awesome.
Catching fire confirms that - as Haymitch puts it - "no one ever wins the Hunger Games." Like shell-shocked veterans, both Katniss and Peeta spend the first 1/2 in the shadow of their 'victory' and the bleak darkness of district 12. Both want as much distance between them and the Games as possible but facing the Victors' Tour, they are ushered back into their roles as contrived lovers (oh, the heartbreak in Peeta's eyes).
Yet something is happening in the districts - the people, having seen a scratch on the Capitol's armour, are rioting. Peeta, Katniss, the trick with the berries and the mockingjay, the very symbol of Capitol failure and the power of a simple presence, are spurring revolution against the bombast of Capitol opulence. Even - as the denouement of the Quarter Quell reveals - moles within the Capitol itself are bending the Games itself. In a world still not immune to censorship or war, the Hunger Games is an important film about survival - not only literal survival in the fight-to-death Hunger Games against other contestants (mere temporary enemies) but also perseverance under government repression, the real enemy.
It's a shame Peeta always seems to be overshadowed (maybe because Josh Hutcherson is short?) although he'll definitely receive more screen time in the final installation, which is in two parts. This film was long, too, around two hours! It would have still achieved impact with concision. [tangent] Why are movies getting longer, pools of resources going into movie-making, and pages of tabloids examining the details of celebrities down to each exacting detail? Entertainment has never been so accessible and desirable. [end of tangent]
When I first read Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire, I was Jonas-brother-loving, innocuous to the hardships of IB life and just getting over my Edward Cullen-phase (about to embark on the Peeta Mellark one, in fact). 2 SAT exams (never again) and a hundred+ books later, much has changed but the pleasure of watching a great, action-packed movie - despite reconfirming throughout that I would never, ever survive the Hunger Games - remains the same.
On a final note:
The repeat counter on listenonrepeat.com is telling me I've been listening to this around 30+ times now.