Hunger Games: Catching Fire lacks the focus of the first

hungergamescatchingfireTHE MUCH ANTICIPATED second instalment to The Hunger Games series starring the Oscar-crowned Jennifer Lawrence is here. Since the first film, Catching Fire sees the sparks of revolution; double the villains and the essential teen love-triangle in play. Katniss’ (Lawrence) victory has set off riots and she herself has become the emblem of rebellion – the mockingbird. Donald Sutherland continues as the menacing President Snow and we’re introduced to the new ‘head gamemaker’ played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and an unfortunately short performance from Patrick St. Esprit as the head ‘peacekeeper’ in District 12.

In true fashion with blockbuster teen action films (Twilight and City of Bones to name a few) we have the ‘team-Edward’/’team-Jacob’ love triangle – although here it is ‘team-Peeta’ (Josh Hutcherson) and ‘team-Gale’ (Liam Hemsworth). Katniss has seemingly faked her love for Peeta for the cameras, to win the previous game and to quell the rebellion whilst truly remaining faithful to Gale. Katniss’ indifference to the pair of them seems to be what’s fuelling the triangle as it barely seems even Katniss herself knows which one she prefers. Katniss, however, ever the ‘empowered-woman’ and the ‘anti-Bella Swan’, leaves the boys to mope over their lovesickness and focuses on protecting her family and District.

As an attempt to tarnish Katniss’ reputation and effectively eliminate her, Snow and gamemaker Plutarch dream up a ‘celebrity’ special of the Hunger Games by bringing previous winners into the arena. We are introduced to a new. wackier arena with poison fog and vicious baboons and a whole new group of eccentric tributes making Katniss and Peeta appear as dreary as ever.

Despite my reservations about Katniss as a character, Lawrence’s performance lived up to her standard. After winning Best Actress for her performance in The Silver Linings Playbook, any fan might hope for Lawrence to move on quickly from teen action-adventure films; but she holds the film together and ensures Katniss remains central in our engagement and concern. The action in the games and the tensions outside are as gripping as before but the whole film lacks the focus of the first. Catching Fire has loose-ends, drawn out plots and a repetitiveness that the original Hunger Games ironed out. It does, however, hold promise for the next two films that will divide Susanne Collins’ final book Mockingjay. The hints at revolt will be put into action and Katniss will put an end to either Peeta or Gale’s ‘suffering’. With the weaknesses of Catching Fire in mind, I only hope there’s enough plot to go around.