The second segment of a trilogy is, typically, the most difficult to construct. The audience has already been introduced to the main characters and the world they inhabit. The struggle between protagonist and antagonist has been set. And, you know the story won’t end with this chapter. Such is the case with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Here are some of the problems… If you’re not part of the fan base and haven’t seen the first installment, you may not be able to follow what’s going on. There isn’t an adequate explanation of how the original games work. So, the audience is pretty much limited to the fan base, which, admittedly, is huge.
Next, the heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) killed a lot of people in the first episode, so, to her credit, she is going through a lot of angst over that. However, that makes for a slow start to the action for us. She’s proved herself a champion and that’s what we want to see. Director Francis Lawrence and his writing team of Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn don’t move the story along fast enough and without the talent of Lawrence this would have been a bigger problem than it is.
As it is, Katniss’ spirited sister Primrose (Willow Shields) becomes a, potentially, more interesting character, which I’m hoping will be borne out in the third installment.
This episode, also, brings out the absolute evilness of President Snow (Donald Sutherland), so the film has a much darker tone than the original, as well. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s just another reason why we want to get into the action.
When the action does pick up, it is, of course, exciting. However, there is the almost absolute certitude that nothing is going to happen to Katniss. The stakes never seem high enough and it becomes disturbing that she, somehow, never runs out of arrows. In fact, they, magically, multiply from scene to scene.
Bottom line, the movie seems like a nearly2 ½ hour trailer for the third episode.
I expected more from this film, but I’m sure the fan base will love it. Overall, I did, too.
I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a 4 out of 5 for fans and a 3+ for anyone else, who happens to buy in.