Saturday, November 23, 2013

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I won't waste your time with preamble or plot overview. If you live in the Western world and are capable of reading this, you've seen a commercial.

Story: 5/5 - Honestly, I found the story very compelling. The first one was a bit lacking in this regard - it's virtually just Takami's Battle Royale. But this one was so much bigger than the game, with lot of clear motives and compelling emotional impact. It also totally avoided the stupid things that really tugged at the story of the first one (Peeta makes himself up like a log and just lies there until Katniss find him!), which was a big plus. It runs to 146 minutes, but it uses all of that time to tell a much grander story.

Writing: 4/5 - I had no problems with the script, either, which is shocking for a young adult film like this. The producers brought in some heavy hitters to pen the screenplay: Michael Arndt (Oscar win for Little Miss Sunshine, Oscar nom for Toy Story 3, Brave) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) are two of the best in the business, and while this script doesn't deserve Academy Award discussion, it has everything (realism, humour, opportunities for Jennifer Lawrence to speak) and for a film in this genre, is frankly outstanding. I really wish I'd read the book to see if the way the dialogue keeps the viewer up-to-date (perfectly) is something that Collins did in the novel, or something the screenwriters had to add.

Acting: 4/5 - I bet Josh Hutcherson is a really nice guy, but I hate his stupid face and I don't like his acting. That being said, everybody else is great. Donald Sutherland is perfectly arrogant, Woody Harrelson is equal parts frustrating and warm. Jennifer Lawrence is Jennifer Lawrence. Even Elizabeth Banks gets to open up a bit as Effie sees her victors forced into another awful situation.

Aesthetics: 4/5 - Jo Willems is a solid cinematographer, and I look forward to watching his career unfold. 30 Days of Night was pretty dynamic. With a budget of this size ($130 million), of course the effects and editing are going to be great.

Final Score: 85% Grittier and darker than the first one, this film has something for everyone. Just a fun movie.

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