This movie ain't too bad despite the fact that the whole series is a ripoff of an awesome Japanese movie. Battle Royale came first people!
A soldier and it's fellow comrades stalk through a steamy foreign jungle. Bugs buzz around them, biting them. Their weapons are drawn. They just want to stay alive. This is war. What I am describing is the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. At the same time, I'm also describing the Vietnam War. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), is the heroine of the Hunger Games films. She was the victor of the last games and is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. She goes hunting and lives with her family, trying to make things normal. But she is plagued to flashbacks and dreams and horrific images that all remind her of the awful experience that was the last Hunger Games. People applaud her and shower her with the attention that celebrities of today all get. She wants no part of it. It all seems so fake compared to her actual reality. All the excessive and ridiculousness of the Capitol (the central city of the dystopian world) seems unnecessary and almost cruel. She goes cross country on a Victory Tour. It's supposed to be a fun affair. But it is all a masquerade. She had become a Mockingjay to the people, a symbol of hope for the rebellion against the totalitarian government. Again, she really wants no part of this. To make matters worse she's shipped off to the Hunger Games again as part of President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) plan to destroy the image of Katniss as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden peoples. Yeah, things aren't looking to bright for Katniss Everdeen. So before I was making a comparison between Catching Fire and the Vietnam War. You see, I think these movies are pretty great and want to be serious deep films. Yet, they get caught up in pleasing the (mostly) teenage female audience and have to put in these cheesy forced "love" subplots. There's nothing wrong with a little romance here and there, but this movie doesn't need it. It's really about a girls struggle to stay sane in the face of war, similar to movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now. It isn't really about the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. That stuff is in there for more for the entertainment and appeal of the Twilight audience. Honestly, this movie would be a lot better if it didn't shoehorn in stupid subplots like that. Besides those few issues, Catching Fire is an intense and fairly entertaining entree into the Hunger Games series. I think it's a decent entree into the dystopian sci-fi genre itself. Director Francis Lawrence certainly knows how to handle that stuff after his 2007 film, I Am Legend. Jennifer Lawrence (no relation to the director) gives a very nice performance here. She is already has an Oscar and another nomination to go along with it. Lawrence does the whole wounded veteran thing as nicely as one can do the wounded veteran thing. I can't say the same for the rest of the cast. Woody Harrelson and Josh Hutcherson both do their roles fine, nothing special though, but Liam Hemsworth plays his character as if it were a block of wood with hair. Unlike his much more talented brother, Chris, Liam Hemsworth has yet to show he has any acting ability at all. Jena Malone (who I last saw in Donnie Darko, where's she been?) does a nice job as the very angry Joanna Mason. One of the best parts of the film in my opinion, was the effects and set pieces. There's one particular sweeping shot of the very realistic rain forest that was reminiscent of movies like Blood Diamond. It's really pretty cool how damn far we've come special effects wise. A lot of people have been saying how Catching Fire can't be that good because it's the middle of the series. Wrong, I say! Catching Fire is actually a lot better in my opinion than the first flick. And I actually really liked the first. This one is actually trying to be a deeper, more psychological movie. It doesn't always succeed, but it's quite good when it does. Despite it's pratfalls, I'd say it's a nicely done film. Looks like Catching Fire didn't burn out! (wink, wink). I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 3.6 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing everyone. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.