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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Cinema review – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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This is not so much a sequel as the second episode of an epic sci-fi serial.

As such it has arrived with great expectations after the enthralling first instalment.

Unfortunately, probably because I was totally absorbed (and surprised) by the initial appearance of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), it has turned out to be dismally anticlimactic and, as the latter stages dragged on (and on), a bit of a yawn.

Winners of the most recent sacrificial Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) should by rights be entitled to a life of carefree celebrity, but they don’t follow the strict edicts of the all-controlling state, ruled by callous President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and before too long they find themselves symbols of rebellion among the downtrodden, increasingly resentful populace.

The establishment’s response is to organise another Games that will have previous champions competing until there is but one left standing. Thus ends the establishing segment of the movie, during which a heavily over-emphasised fascism is elevated to high-camp status by the whacky performances of Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks, and the sinister machinations of lugubrious Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Most laughable in this period is Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch telling Katniss that the Games are only there so that the mob don’t think about how they are being screwed – as if the industry that has allowed Harrelson to live like a lord’s bastard isn’t.

From this point, Katniss, Peeta and the dozen or so other competitors, in the grand tradition of TV’s ridiculous Survivor, are let loose in a tropical jungle with the task of killing each other.

They all have special skills – Katniss’s is as an archer – but a poisonous fog that makes anyone it touches break out in unsightly blisters, and a pack of bad-tempered baboons, make things even trickier for the homicidal heroes.

Enough has already been written about Katniss as the feminine role model for a new age, but when you get past that it’s all pretty one-dimensional, standard and, in truth, a monumental bore.

~ John Campbell


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