Arguably, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is the best book out of the trilogy that Suzanne Collins has written Being a semi-fanbot (fine, a big fanbot) of the series, it’s only natural to anticipate what I like to consider as my personal franchise guilty pleasure. It may not be Katniss’ story that gets you, but admit it, you have guilty pleasures too. The difference with me is I want the world to know about it!
With only 2 weeks till the film gets its release here in Manila (November 21, officially), I can’t help but anticipate the film. Though the first movie was kind of a mediocre effort in terms of filmmaking in general, it still sucks me in the world of PANEM and the Districts with much enthusiasm this second time around. This time, I think they’re going to hit the right notes for the better. With a freshly Academy Award winning Jennifer Lawrence back to reprise her critically acclaimed role as Katniss (I bet you didn’t know that even critics who disliked the film, praised Lawrence for her physically driven performance) with a whole new Oscar-fied crew in attempts to make “Catching Fire” bigger and better then it’s original 2012 send-off. In anticipation, let’s break down what we’ve got in store for us.
THE OSCAR CHANGES EVERYTHING – Lawrence has played her career very well the past few years. At only 22 years of age, she isn’t only one of the brightest movies stars on the planet, but she’s an Academy Award winning actress (2012’s Best Actress in a Leading Role, “Silver Linings Playbook”) and was reportedly payed $15 million dollars to reprise her role as Katniss Everdeen in “Catching Fire” (a hefty sum compared to her 500k paycheque for the first film). That’s some big mula for someone her age. Not to mention, she’s got two upcoming pictures around the bend with the Oscar buzzed “American Hustle” and another huge franchise, the follow-up to “X-Men: First Class” – “Days of Future Past”. Her win and raise in salary should certainly reflect in her performance in film, for better or for worst. I’m hoping that audiences will get their money’s worth out of their lead, because Lawrence does seem to have a favourable reputation with Hollywood directors. Also, I hope that she surpasses her already fine performance in the first Hunger Games, giving us something deeper and more complex in her role, the subject matter will play big support on this.
THE ARENA AND ALL THAT JAZZ – When Lionsgate Studios announced that they were replacing original director Gary Ross, fans were rampant. But I tell you all, it’s for the better. Though I love Ross to death (I consider his 1998 drama “Pleasantville”, a masterpiece), it’s probably for the betterment of the entire series. “Catching Fire” is of bigger scale and budget, it requires a director with a different visual style cause it’s definitely more epic then the minute thing the original film was. New director Francis Lawrence has handled large budget films like “I Am Legend” and “Constantin” and could easily make “Catching Fire” the lesser arthouse flick that Ross did to the first one (shaky-camera and all). And that’s what the film needs. The movie also quickly Oscar-fied their crew by hiring screenwriters Simon Beaufoy (who wrote 2008’s Best Picture winning “Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Ardnt (who penned “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3”). Along with a bigger ensemble that includes prestigious actors like Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright.
CUE THE LOVE TRIANGLE – Don’t you dare EVER compare “The Hunger Games” to that crappy “Twilight Fest”. Uh-uh. The films may lack the violence that the book has and may be targeted to young adults (“Twilight” was too, but nowadays young adults are called “Tweeners”) but this series has so much more to offer. Number one, better acting and a better technical team. Number two, a more compelling storyline (which we’ll get to in the next photograph). But the biggest misconception to its tweener fan base would be the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Though it may look like we’re getting anther Team Edward and Team Jacob here, fans of the book know that the relationship that these three share are more complex then what we see in the first film. You will all see by “Catching Fire”, and will fully understand by “Mockingjay” what I’m talking about. The ups and downs that these three face together or apart look at different complexities in the human mind when it comes to finding love or thinking one is in love. Okay, I’ll stop talking about this. I’m just in high hopes that they don’t miss this part up in the film adaptation.
GETTING THE BALL ROLLING – the coolest thing about “Catching FIre” is that it’s got the greatest story from the three books. I’m not going to give anything away, but I tell you, it’s much more intense. We’ve got an arena that may as well kill the people watching the movie. The rebellion that was shown in the first movie is finally rolling. And the complexities between the characters become more apparent, this give our favourite actors and characters more heartbreaking dialogue and smart lines to appreciate from the big screen. The ball, or the fire ball, really begins to role and the series becomes much more interesting to boot.
MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR EVER – With a budget of $140 million dollars, almost twice as much as the original film, Lionsgate Studios are hoping that that odds are in their favour. They’ll be fine though, and I’m so positive that they’ll easily earn their money back in no time. But here’s to hoping that “Catching Fire” won’t only be more aesthetically pleasing then the original film, but becomes a movie with more substance and a more respectable reputation in the world of cinema. KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED.
“The Hunger Games: Catching FIre” comes out in cinemas in Manila on November 21, 2013. It is produced and distributed by Lionsgate Studios.