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“Aim high in case you fall short”: why Catching Fire felt like it could have been way better

Going in to seeing Francis Lawrence’s Catching Fire my hopes were as high as all those people who spent their holiday at the theater to see Katniss, Inc. (ticket sales were higher than any other Thanksgiving release in history), who were probably too expecting more than the hour and a half I might have rather spent watching Robert Redford on a raft in the middle of the ocean (I still haven’t seen All is Lost).

The Hunger Games as a whole already has a well-deserved following of the popularly-read series by Suzanne Collins, and I love the premise, it’s just…the first movie offered way more than anything presented here (it seems as if there’s a direct correlation between less awesome sequels and amazing premieres akin to Stephanie Myers’ vampire cult Twilight series, because Catching Fire also had a similar situation.)

Catching Fire starts where the last games left off: we have Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark  (Josh Hutchinson) winners of the 74th Annual Hunger Games, on the post-win “Victory Tour” with Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), the Capitol’s extravagant chaperon. Injustice is never more apparent as Katniss struggles with her life on the line—her darkness always subtly shining through—as she continues to abide by the illegitimately controlled and materialistic regime that was probably the best part of the whole movie (Donald Sutherland as President Sn0w!).

Meanwhile, the horrors are never more real under the power of the corrupt, and Catching Fire made that ever so apparent throughout the movie as the rest of the people suffered working their days. Everdeen offers a hope for them with her innate spark, but Snow will not risk having her stance jeopardize the country. So what better way to eliminate the already emotionally distraught girl than have a 75th Hunger Games with past winners? Which, every newcomer’s performance was a lot of fun, my favorite being the evilly sassy Johanna Mason (Jena Malone, who I want to see more of!).

Whatever it was that was missing from this one, maybe we’re spoiled with all of this Jennifer Lawrence-ness as of late in movies like Silver Linings Playbook that’s acting and story is SO solid that Catching Fire‘s mystique just felt like amateur hour (there was a leau . Not to say everything else about the movie wasn’t fantastic (see: the Alexander McQueen et al designs featured by costume designer Trish Summerville), but there was some definite spark missing from the hyped up second installment of the Hunger Games that made it not as fun as the first time.

(photo via Business Insider)

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Kaitlin Duffy is a writer from Cleveland. When she's not blogging or pondering the great complexities of the world and outer space, she is finding rare vinyl steals, visiting new places, laughing often, Instagramming everything in sight, watching movies, or working on her first feature Port de Cleve.