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Hunger Games good food for the eyes

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

When the first Hunger Games came out, I knew nothing about it but the hype. I was excited at the potential profit it represented but it just seemed like another in a series. I did hear from a few people whom had read the books that it was a great series but it’s always a crap shoot. It was quite by accident that I sat down and watched the film – more nothing to do than anything and I needed to write a review that week. It was a really strong film.

Even then you knew that Jennifer Lawrence was going to be a star. Not just because she was getting three of these and the notoriety alone would propel her into the spotlight. No, it was her ability to own the screen. She was a star. A few years later, an academy award for Best Actress  and yep, she’s kind of a big deal.
Delivering on potential is no small accomplishment.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is bigger and better than the original, which makes sense because it can go right into story. We know the characters.
Katniss is on a victory tour with her pseudo beau Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). It’s a made up kind of love that propelled the town into a split victory in the first instalment.
While we don’t fully understand the political structure, we understand there is extreme poverty in the land and that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is a really bad dude. He’s joined in this instalment by a weaselly advisor named Plutarch Heavensbee. Philip Hoffman is a great addition, merging the ingratiating insincerity of Truman Capote with  ruthless ambition.

So there’s lots of new and some of the old. Woody Harrelson is back as Haymitch and I find his character to be one of the most interesting  in the film, although I’m always waiting for him to go Bruce Dern on everyone. Then there’s Stanley Tucci who quietly has this rather remarkable acting CV. He is over the top outstanding as the host of the games. He’s clearly channelling his inner Eric Idle.

So here’s the thing.
The first film got away with a lot because it was just establishing the broad elements of the dystopia.
We saw the parameters of  Snow’s reign and the despair the people were up against. Katniss’ heroic struggle and subsequent victory was charming and a less than subtle triumph of the human spirit. She’s a good person.

This year’s version needs to rough her up a bit.
Even though most of the really dark stuff happens off camera, we understand and even demand that she be put through some kind of personal hell.
She is becoming the people’s symbol of resistance. The whole point to the Hunger Games was to keep peace among the districts, and she is stirring the pot.
Snow will need to act.
All good dictators know that keeping a nation down requires more than just a good army.
So there’s the stage.
You do the math.
I’ll tell you this much.

It’s a really good film.
Exciting, visually captivating, and it feels right.
Listen, not to ruin everything but it’s a trilogy so most of us can figure out that the whole crew doesn’t get wiped out. In this case, knowing the ending doesn’t spoil it.
There are enough twists and turns to make this spellbinding even if it does run 147 minutes, give or take.
My personal disdain for overly long movies aside, this is a really good film and I strongly recommend you give it a shot, even if you missed the first one. If you’re smart enough to read this column you’re smart enough to figure it out.
As always, other opinion are welcome, but wrong.
Well that’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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