The girl on fire is back.
I’m talking about Katniss Everdeen, the main character in the recently released “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Is hope stronger than fear? That’s a theme of the sequel, based upon the second book in the three-book “Hunger Games” trilogy. And it looks like hope is spreading because “Catching Fire” has been the top-grossing film for two weeks.
When we left Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the end of the series’ first film in 2012, she and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) became the first pair of victors in the history of the Games. Usually, there is only one survivor of the kill-or-be-killed event. They are celebrities expected to tow the company line and make President Snow (Donald Sutherland) look good. They also receive promises to never again be forced to compete.
The problem for the president is that the oppressed masses see Katniss as a symbol of rebellion. She gives them hope, and that makes her the No. 1 enemy of the Capitol. So, they surprise citizens with this year’s Games: The Tributes will be reaped only from the pool of each district’s surviving victors. That means that as the only living female victor from District 12, Katniss has to live a new nightmare.
Of course, our love triangle heats up a notch in this sequel. Katniss has grown up learning to survive at the side of Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but Peeta’s devotion has become the only constant she can rely on.
This film is totally action-packed, but it is also emotional. I applaud Elizabeth Banks for faithfully portraying Effie Trinket. That can’t be an easy role to tackle. Jena Malone has joined the cast as wild child Johanna Mason and does a terrific job. Sam Claflin also works well as Finnick Odair. But it’s Lawrence who deserves mad props for keeping her leading performance as real as it gets. Don’t blame her for the abrupt, somewhat-cheesy final frame.
As a huge fan of the books, I can say that this film, like the first, closely follows the text, and that makes me … very, very much a fan!