Saturday, November 30, 2013

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

I took my youngest to see it yesterday. I'm very pleased with this franchise. I love the totalitarian politics. It seem so contemporary, considering.

From Kenneth Turan, at the Los Angeles Times, "Review: 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' burns bright with fiery Katniss":

Second movies in a series can be such a comfort: We already know the key characters, we have a sense of where the plot is going, we just have to hang on and enjoy the thrills. Which is what happens with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

An effective piece of melodramatic popular entertainment that savvily builds on the foundation established by the first "Hunger Games" movie, "Catching Fire" layers in increased visual brio while remaining faithful to the essence of a trilogy popular enough to have more than 50 million copies in print.

That brio comes courtesy of director Francis Lawrence, who took over the series from Gary Ross. Though he's directed features such as "I Am Legend" and "Water for Elephants," it is Lawrence's music video work that's won him multiple awards, including a pair of Grammys, and the expansion in size and scope this project's larger budget allows proves well within his power.

That expansion is necessary because there is more at stake than ever in the world of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). While the first film took her from small town huntress to victory in the kill-or-be killed national tournament called the Hunger Games, "Catching Fire" potentially gives her — much against her will — the possibility of a bigger role in the political landscape of the totalitarian future state known as Panem.

Lawrence's intertwined strength and vulnerability as Katniss were the sine qua non of the first film, and she is the sequel's biggest asset as well. Now an Oscar winner for "Silver Linings Playbook," Lawrence has clearly taken this role very much to heart, throwing herself into it to such an extent that she creates genuine emotion from what is essentially pulpy material.
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