Easily the best blockbuster movie of 2013
It’s a rare case for a blockbuster offering to have style and substance completely in sync. With previous director Gary Ross bowing out and a strict schedule to follow, director Francis Lawrence did the unthinkable and created a sequel that transcended the franchise into new heights. From the tight story to the fast-paced action to the strong performances by its cast, everything just seemed to be heading in the right direction.
Even for non-readers like me, you will find Catching Fire completely satisfying. It works on the relationships of the characters, fleshes them out and that’s what keeps you invested in them. The involvement of Academy award winner Jennifer Lawrence kicks it up a notch and instead of making the other actors look inferior, her presence has one way or another benefited them (Hutcherson, Hemsworth, Harrelson, Banks, Kravitz) as they have improved considerably in their roles. New entrants such as Sam Claflin are also a welcome addition, and they make you more excited to discover what happens next and how they will be handled.
There’s also a noticeable improvement in terms of their level of confidence in presenting the story. Last time they had to settle with the shaky cam to avoid getting battered with an R-rating. In here they embrace the PG-13 format and avoided most scenes of brutality altogether, which is fine as there doesn’t appear to be any signs of quality being diminished due to its lack of violence. It might’ve even ignited their creativity with some of the shots they took.
Now here comes the tricky part. Usually the middle films suffer the most because fantasy books tend to end with a cliff hanger that’s much more unapologetic than usual. I was impressed by how they were able to make the stakes in Catching Fire seem high despite knowing it won’t be the end. But with the way things closed it does feel like Mockingjay Part I will do the same abrupt finish as well. I just hope they offer something substantial in between because they made such a great sequel it’s almost unfair to get into the next one with such high expectations.