It’s been quite the mothermocking “Hunger Games” month for us Movieholes, with all sorts of launches, dances and whatnot, and it comes to an excitable conclude next wee with the first media screening, held Monday night.
Some lucky offshore types have already had the chance to revisit the Capitol (likely as part of their prep for last weekend’s interview junket) and the good news, you fans will be excited to hear, is that “Hunger Games : Catching Fire” is no letdown… we;;
As the inevitable final TV spot will scream : Pants. Will. Be. Damp.
I’ll be back with my verdict post-Premiere on Monday.
The Hollywood Reporter says : “Although Catching Fire had a rushed and tumultuous preproduction period due to the departure of original director Gary Ross and a quick search for a new one that settled on Francis Lawrence (no relation to the star), the film shows no signs of haste. The script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn reflects the shape, emphasis and incident of the book with almost scientific precision, and the desire to deliver the expected goods is keenly felt. Some key personnel have returned — production designer Philip Messina and composer James Newton Howard, in particular — while others, including costume designer Trish Summerville and cinematographer Jo Willems — are new. Across the board, the new film boasts a noticeably spiffier, more confident feel than the first, even as the overriding impression is one of methodical responsibility to the source material.”
The Telegraph says : ” Set against many intellectually bloodless teenage fantasies, this is as juicy as a cut of sirloin, and Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend), who assumes directorial duties from Gary Ross, does a fine job of balancing the film’s ruminations on individual freedom and state control with a charged, pacy narrative.
Meanwhile, Lawrence tears through the film like a cannonball. Her Katniss is all surface toughness and subterranean strife, until the second Panem’s television cameras start rolling, when she starts ladling on the caramel-gooey charm… It’s a critic’s instinct to auto-praise any blockbuster that tries to do something different, but Catching Fire is so committed to carrying on the fine work started by its predecessor that the applause flows utterly naturally. Is it too soon to say I can’t wait for the next one?”
The Guardian says : “The appeal of Lawrence is central to the appeal of this film and its franchise. She’s both pretty and tough, covering both the demographics this film seeks to thrill. She delivers again on the obduracy, the no-nonsenseness and shooting arrows into the heart of anything that moves. She also, however, can throw concern and sympathy into that mix and gets the biggest laughs in the film with her reaction to the sudden appearance and disrobing of a female rival in a lift. She’s joined by an expanded supporting cast of top actors in showy roles – from Sutherland’s President Snow to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sinister Games Maker Plutarch, Woody Harrelson’s mentor Haymitch and, most delectable of all, Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman, TV anchor for the Games and a cross between Larry Grayson and a great white shark. What lets the movie down is its heart, or lack thereof. The reprise of the Games introduces new adversaries (and some allies) but has exactly the same dynamic as in the first movie; Katniss must keep both herself and the ever-so bumbling Peeta alive. It’s all a bit familiar. There’s also a figurative heartlessness about this passage, too. While a fair portion of the original was spent setting up the moral difficulties of competing in a winner-takes-all bloodbath, as the bodycount here grows, the minds of the participants are only on tactics.”
Metro says : “The second part of a trilogy is inevitably a bridging story and this is not an ideal entry point for newbies. Those fans who are panting for ace archer Katniss to get back into the arena, or those who haven’t seen the first movie, may be frustrated by a talky first half that is mainly interested in intelligently exploring Katniss’s moral responsibilities and the ethics of revolution as well as media manipulation, the cult of celebrity and the politics of oppression. Personally I found this the most compelling section. However, it’s essentially a 3 ½ star movie, raised to a 4 by Jennifer Lawrence.”
Den of Geek says : “Director Francis Lawrence was facing a hell of a challenge in taking over The Hunger Games franchise from Gary Ross, but he’s done a fantastic job of staying true to both the first film and the book, and – whisper it – this might even be a more satisfying adaptation than the first one. The world is just as fully realised, the CGI is more convincing, and the violence, this time round, is even more shocking.”
The Scotsman says : “Catching Fire darkens the already bleak scenario of the first film and gives recent Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, below, plenty to sink her teeth into as the saga’s self-possessed, bow-and-arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen. Haunted by the blood she has on her hands as the victor of the titular televised teen death match, Katniss this time finds herself thrown into the arena to participate in a hastily arranged battle against past winners as part of a nefarious plan by the government to quell the rebellion her unexpected victory seems to have inspired. It’s a meaty set-up, and while the film takes its time exploring the characters, its themes and action sequences are more forcefully realised than they were first time round, suggesting that this series may soon be the one against which all other franchises will be judged.”
The Wrap says : ““The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” serves up food for thought and jolts of adrenaline in equal doses, which is more than most YA adaptations have managed to deliver. Dismiss it as a popcorn movie if you must, but at least they’ve bothered to serve it with real butter and truffle salt.”
Evening Standard says : “This second instalment of the four-part sci-fi franchise has been rushed out by Lionsgate, and it shows. The first half of the film is a mess, not so much a slow-burner, as a no-burner.Luckily, the second half is a roaring… OK, OK, no more fire metaphors. Suffice to say, teen rebel and ace archer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), is still the best game changer in town. “