SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you want to remain in the dark about the events of Catching Fire.
The second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy presents a brand new look at the series, filled with surprises, love, sadness, and death. Even better and more action-filled than the first, this new movie is a must-see for all Katniss and Peeta fans . Just don’t go alone, because, true to the book, this is not a light movie. The movie opens to Katniss living in the Victory Village, an area in District 12 that the victors, Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta, call home. We see how the Hunger Games has changed Katniss; when hunting with Gale, we find that Katniss cannot shoot a bow without seeing visions of her fellow dead tributes. This doesn’t stop her from stealing a kiss with Gale in the shadows of an alley, a new twist to Katniss’ love life that members of Team Gale undoubtedly enjoy.
Putting an end to the love fest, Katniss and Peeta almost immediately take on the Victory Tour, an event where the victor, or, in this case, victors, travel to each district and give a speech to the families of the dead tributes as well as the rest of the district, while embodying the Capitol’s virtues of strength and power. President Snow has another message that he wants Katniss and Peeta to convey: they must somehow sell or convince the crowds that they are madly in love, or else he will kill their families. At District 11, the viewer encounters the first of many heart wrenching scenes. District 11 is the home of the deceased Rue and Thresh. As Katniss and Peeta give a speech, images of the lost tributes are projected above their respective families. Katniss believers begin touching three fingers to their lips and raising them to the sky, a sign of hope for District 11, as well as all the districts. This is not well received by the Peacemakers, and as Katniss and Peeta are hauled away, a man is taken from the crowd, beaten, and shot to death. Again, pulling on the viewer’s heartstrings, the scene is disturbing on so many levels.
The events of District 11 spark an undercurrent of rebellion among the other districts. Despite Katniss and Peeta’s attempts to toe the party line as they continue their victory tour, the dissident activity builds. In true evil villain form, Snow seeks retribution on Katniss and, following the council of Plutarch, calls for a Quarter Quell game where this year’s tributes are selected from among past year’s tributes. To no one’s surprise, Katniss and Peeta once again find themselves hoping the games are ever in their favor.
The movie so closely follows the book, that it may feel as if the viewer is reading along with each scene. The special effects leave nothing to be desired even before the games begin as Katniss repeatedly lights up the scene with fire. And, Katniss’ transformation from betrothed tribute to symbolic Mockingjay was stunning. During the games, the many plagues startle and come to life – baboons, jabber jays, acidic fog, etc. It all comes to a head with the eventual collapse of the arena and Katniss being airlifted to her rightful place among the rebels. And, although we all know what’s to come with Mockingjay, the viewer is still left wanting more as the curtain closes on what’s sure to be a well crafted rebellion in 2014. Until next year……