I gasped, I laughed, I cried: Catching Fire, the edgy sequel to the Hunger Games

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Katniss keeps watch, struggling to stay awake and guard her allies. She spots a thick fog winding its way towards camp. This would be no cause for alarm, but she knows from experience that nothing is safe in the Hunger Games. I want to shout “Run faster!” as the group escapes the poisonous fog.

 

Catching Fire, the second movie based off of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, delivers relentless intensity. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is thrust into a whirlwind of strife. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss’ home, demanding she convince the rebels of Panem that she’s a lovestruck teenager to end the uprising. If she fails to do so, Snow threatens the lives of those she loves.

 

In addition to Snow’s blackmail, Katniss deals with boy drama. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is a flat character for most of the movie, kissing and pining for Katniss, which only causes her more problems. I wished that he could be satisfied with the friend zone, and let Katniss cope with Snow’s demands.

 

On the other hand, Peeta and Katniss operate as a team, working together to survive everyday. Although Peeta obviously loves Katniss, he puts his emotions aside to face the trouble ahead. Gale’s love seems petty beside Peeta’s self sacrifice.

 

President Snow is not pleased with Katniss’s attempt to convince the districts of her innocence. He creates a special 75th Hunger Games to get rid of her: a male and female victor from each district must fight in the arena. Katniss runs into the woods when she hears the announcement, too terror-stricken to scream.

 

Colors change from the districts’ greys and whites to greens and blues when Katniss enters the arena. Peeta and Katniss’s entertaining new allies Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) provide a vibrant, if slightly jaded, mood.

 

There is hardly a slow moment in Catching Fire, despite the 2 ½ hour running time. The director (Francis Lawrence) makes a noticeable effort to stick to the book’s plot. I went with a die-hard Hunger Games fan who approved of the storyline, so obviously he was appealing  to readers.

 

Jennifer Lawrence really carries the movie, proving that not all modern day heroines are caught up on some guy’s abs. Compared to other females in the genre, most prominently Bella from Twilight, Katniss is self-sufficient and capable with or without a sexy vampire breathing down her neck.

Catching Fire shouldn’t be dismissed as “just another teenage sci-fi fad”. The movie focuses on the ravaging effects of war on youth, the tragedy of children fighting adults’ battles, and the search for human connection in an isolating culture. those are concepts that this generation can relate to all over the world, from child soldiers in Africa to social media obsession here in the United States. Because it carries such an important message and combines that with light elements like kissing Peeta on the beach, Catching Fire is a hit that continues to resonate in our everyday lives.