"Liberty Is Worth Fighting For"
The science fiction movie THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE takes place right after the first movie, where the heroine and her friend face the challenge of figuring out their feelings for each other amid a political revolution putting them at the center of a fight for liberty. More entertaining than the first movie, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE has solid characters with a positive moral worldview, but has an episodic story structure mixed with some romantic elements, intense violence and brief foul language that warrant strong caution.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is the science fiction sequel to the novel and movie THE HUNGER GAMES, which turned into a worldwide hit. Superior in both artistic quality, entertainment value and worldview, CATCHING FIRE is sure to appease the appetite of the biggest fans, but that’s not without ample caution.
CATCHING FIRE takes place after the safe return home of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Both survived a last-man-standing gladiatorial event by pretending to be in love and defying the Capitol’s command to kill each other. Peeta’s love for Katniss is real, but she doesn’t feel the same way about him. Now, as the beloved winners of the games, Katniss and Peeta must embark on a “Victory Tour,” where they will speak at each of the government-oppressed 12 districts.
As Katniss and Peeta travel and pretend to be the couple that everyone wants to see, a divide grows between them of broken hearts and lost hope. Along with them is their drunken, but decent-hearted mentor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), and the over-privileged Capitol born chaperone Effiie (Elizabeth Banks), who is also caring, but in her own way.
Katniss’s act of defiance in the games against the Capitol and its leader President Snow has marked her as an enemy of the state. However, the citizens are so in love with Katniss and Peeta, that any harm Snow does to them would cause a revolution. So, his head game-master devises a plan to destroy Katniss’s image before tension in the district goes out of control. His plan is, at the 75th Hunger Games event, to choose past hunger games winners and have them re-compete for their lives in the deadliest Hunger Games ever conceived. The announcement of the new Hunger Games devastates Katniss and Peeta, who simply want to go about their lives and keep their separate families safe.
It soon becomes clear that their bravery and supposed love is sparking a revolution. Katniss has become a symbol of hope for all the 12 districts.
Will Katniss and Peeta survive the 75th Hunger Games? Will a revolution bring danger to everyone Katniss and Peeta hold dear? Most of all, will Katniss overcome her own personal demons of fear, anger, confusion, and past savagery that haunts her day and night?
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is very close to the book in its adaptation, maybe even to a fault. In the beginning, the movie gives viewers very little foresight into the direction the story is taking them. It merely shows the relationships and tensions between several of the characters. This makes the movie feel episodic at times. Another misstep in the writing is that a large section of the movie is very, very similar to the first movie. In a book with a first person point of view, this may be fine, but in a movie, it feels repetitive.
That said, CATCHING FIRE is much more engrossing than its predecessor in both the visual element and the characters’ journey. Like the book, the complex romantic relationship between Katniss and Peeta is sappy at points, but it’s much less melodramatic than other popular young adult fiction.
The first HUNGER GAMES caused a lot of controversy because of its depiction of children killing other children in brutal ways. CATCHING FIRE, though intense and violent, doesn’t have any children participating in the Hunger Games event. In fact, most of movie revolves around the 12 districts slowly leaving their passivity and choosing to stand up against the government’s oppression of the free market trade and its brutal persecution of men and women. The defiance of the Capitol’s militaristic wickedness aligns with the biblical, patriotic, capitalist ideals on which America was founded.
Also, the two main characters, Katniss and Peeta, exhibit moral worldviews of self-sacrifice, fighting evil, teamwork, and protecting the elderly. A pro-life sentiment is made when a contestant is said to be pregnant, and everyone is shocked and appalled. This is mixed with some Romanticism as Katniss struggles between affection for both Peeta and her lifelong male friend at home, Gale.
Though not as graphic as the first movie, the violence in CATCHING FIRE is still intense and has some brutal moments. Happily, the director turns the camera away from certain violent actions and stays away from excessive gore. The scenes are still harrowing, however. That intensity, along with some scary images, brief foul language and one indecent scene warrant strong caution for THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE.
(BB, C, ACACAC, CapCap, PP, Ro, L, VV, S, N, AA, M) Strong moral worldview with light redemptive content and Christian values of self-sacrifice, fighting evil, fighting for liberty, teamwork, protecting the elderly, and even a pro-life sentiment is made, along with strong anti-socialist, anti-big government and pro-capitalist content honoring Pro-American values in a fight against a tyrannical big government trying to destroy freedom and the free market, mixed with some light Romanticism relating to a love triangle between three characters; 4 obscenities, a few light profanities, and two bleeped “f” words; strong violence includes a man getting whipped with back exposed, people getting shot point blank, gladiatorial games where contestants are shot with arrows, stabbed, electrocuted, speared, and drowned, a poisonous gas infects several characters’ skin and produces large grotesque boils, many wounds and scars are visibly seen, scary man eating monkeys attacks contestants in the arena; characters kiss passionately several times, and Katniss has bad nightmares and asks Peeta to sleep next to her, but nothing sexual happens; a young woman walks into an occupied elevator and to everyone’s shock undresses in front of them, the men do ogle her, but only her bare back is seen, upper male nudity on a few occasions; one character is always drunk and/or drinking; no smoking or drug use; and, some characters act selfish and angry, but it’s not shown positively.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is the sequel to the novel and movie THE HUNGER GAMES, a worldwide hit. The story takes place right after the first movie. Katniss and Peeta must face the challenge of figuring out their feelings for each other during a political revolution that puts them at the center of a fight for liberty. Things go from bad to worse when they are included in a new Hunger Games against other trained killers. Everything is at stake.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is more engrossing than the first movie. However, while the characters are engaging, the story structure is episodic and sometimes repetitive. Nevertheless, the movie has a strong moral worldview. For example, the fight is against a tyrannical big government stifling liberty and the free market. Also, moral values like self-sacrifice and protecting the elderly are extolled. Finally, the violence is extremely intense, with some brutal moments, but it’s not as graphic as the first movie. The violence, some scary images, brief foul language and one indecent scene warrant strong caution for THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE.