The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. (description from imdb.com)
You know what best tells me that a movie is truly stellar? The ability to draw me in so completely, to have me be so immersed in the story, that when the lights come up again I have no idea how much time has passed.
Let's get the basic comments out of the way first:
Action - check.
Stunning costumes - check.
Amazing casting choices - check.
Mirroring the book - check.
Excellence on all fronts.
Now, let's talk about what really made this movie special.
Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss as she struggles to deal with her guilt, her PTSD, and her terror at facing the arena again. Josh Hutcherson stepped way up as Peeta, facing many of the same emotions, and struggling with his feelings for Katniss, as well.
The scenes, for instance, where they have to parade in front of the crowds as victors, both horrified by what they've done and seen, but knowing they cannot show it... then defiantly standing tall and creating a symbol for their fellow Panem citizens as many turn to the thought of revolution? WELL DONE. Truly. This image will stay with me for a long time:
I shivered in the theater, and I'm still tearing up as I type this. Powerful. Raw. This movie made me cry at several points, in fact (and I fully expect to sob through portions of the next two).
Watching Katniss, especially, struggle with how others viewed her and how she saw herself. The dichotomy in her struggle to do right and just to survive...then to be thrust back into a second situation where the stakes are the highest they can possibly be, knowing she'd already thrown her trump card?
Watching her spiral down from a strong, defiant girl into a terrified survivor struggling to keep control was harrowing. And to see President Snow punish her over and over was vividly brutal. Though she gains allies, Katniss finds herself unable to completely trust anyone and her wariness proves justified when she finds out that some of her most trusted allies have in fact been using her for their own means.
Jennifer Lawrence's astounding acting skills truly prove her worthy to play this role. She depicts the full range of Katniss' albeit, somewhat stunted, emotions and plays the part beyond convincingly. One can truly forget that the events are not unfolding directly in front of us and the final moments of the film most definitely left at least me desperate to see the next installment as soon as possible.