The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) (PG-13)

The second installment in "The Hunger Games" series, based on Suzanne Collins' book of the same named is much better than its predecessor...but then again, that's not saying a whole lot. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" picks up where the first one left off, not as seamlessly as Peter Jackson does fact, not even close.
The beginning of the movie recycles the beginning of the first movie—Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) are out in a forest somewhere, hunting stuff. They come across a flock of turkeys—Katniss has a flashback to the hunger games, having a panic attack because she thinks she's just shot a kid.
Katniss is haunted by the memories of the games, which would be easier to empathize with if they had not been quite so bloodless. With this movie too, the violence is pacified to the point of being patronizing. Recent articles state that PG-13 movies have more gun violence than R rated flicks...yes, this is gun violence; but where was the action?
As I exited the theater I was trying to reflect on the movie and I actually found myself asking: "What actually happened in that movie". I think it's best summed up by "people vs. government". Except with this movie, it clearly spells out exactly what its characters are thinking about for the audience...lest we have to actually think. For instance there is actually a conversation in which two men say: "Hey, I think we'll try fear tactics now." Really? Of course I'm paraphrasing, but's kind of insulting.
Anyways, Peeta, the other victor from the hunger games, and Katniss now have to play to the powers that be or else their loved ones will get killed. This, of course, is written off later because suddenly Katniss and Peeta are too famous...any murders will cause an uprising.
The government in question is a complete dictatorship, much like the world created in 1984 or any other dystopian society. Their subjects are a loyal and mindless people that now have an unwilling person to channel their feelings. Katniss doesn't want to be a leader, she just wants to go back home to her family and live a quite life where she can mope and cry in peace...but the government is unsatisfied with that. They demand the uprisings that have started to be silenced—they want Katniss to put on a facade, and she does...but for how long can she last?
I must say that I read Collins' trilogy and most definitely didn't like it. It was airy, moody, and a farce. It centered around a love triangle, masquerading itself as a work deeper than just that. But the resolution of everything involved is just so comically bad that it shames itself...obviously, I'm the only one who thinks this way.
So I didn't like "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" mainly because I didn't care for the source material. It's a book (and movie) that takes too long to become interesting and once it is, it ends abruptly, leaving you perplexed. But it's not a cliff hanger ending, no, that can be seen in the newest "Hobbit" movie...that's a cliff hanger—this is another animal altogether, not in a good way.
The bloodlessness of the movie is one problem, the story itself is another, but a big problem is the way the movie pieces together. Too many minutes are eaten up with pointless dialogue and meaningless scenes that do nothing but make us cringe at the awkwardness of being a teenager. Yes, I went through those years, why would I relive them?
Because we all know there are more movies to come, is there ever really any danger our main character is in? Perhaps, perhaps not.
This movie is better than "The Hunger Games", mainly because it would be hard to be worse than that film. The series changed directors and everyone seems pleased with Francis Lawrence as the new man (no relation to the leading lady).
The film looks pretty amazing. The CGI-effects are used sparingly and they always look sleek when they are used. The series doesn't fall into the "shaky-cam" cliche territory and I'm very thankful for that.
Still, on all fronts, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" could have been so much better.
It's too long, too moody, and too condescending.
If it's any consolation I really liked Stanley Tucci in this movie.

Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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