Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

The Hunger Games trilogy has become a global phenomenon for both young and old. Students now pour over the books in classrooms as they delve into themes of Reality TV and the widening chasm between rich and poor. Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, was adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy (an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael deBruyn (Little Miss Sunshine).

In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Katniss Everdeen is back, having survived the first Hunger Games by convincing the Capitol of her love for fellow contestant Peeta. Katniss’s District 12 is now reaping the benefits of her win.

If you somehow managed to miss the first film then here is a brief summary. Contestants are chosen by the wealthy Capitol under the control of President Snow to play in the Hunger Games. The contestants selected are from 12 districts, all of which live in abject poverty. There can only be one winner and the winner will be the sole survivor. The Hunger Games are watched for sport on big screens around the Capitol.

In the second film President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is not convinced of Katniss’s love for Peeta. When Katniss is seen with love interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth), President Snow takes action. He calls Katniss and Peeta back for another Hunger Games as he pits previous winners against each other.

Gale is featured more prominently in this film with the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale coming to the fore. Gale has to watch on screens as Katniss convincingly acts out her love for fellow contestant Peeta.

Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as the feisty heroine of this film. She emulates Katniss’s strength of character whilst emphasising her vulnerability.

This second installment seems better targeted to the audience of readers who have so enjoyed Collins’s books. There is less carnage than in the first film, which also reflects the books, but the underlying messages are still very clear.

The bigger budget this time around has meant that fashion has been taken to the edgy extreme. The entrance made by Katniss in her chariot is spectacular. The couture dresses worn by Effie are extravagantly fabulous, topped off with an Alexander McQueen creation.

Favourites are back including Woody Harrelson's Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks'  Effie, Stanley Tucci's Caesar and Lenny Kravitz's Cinna. British actor Sam Claflin as Finnick, firmly on the side of Katniss, is a welcome addition along with Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays new gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

Catching Fire successfully continues The Hunger Games franchise with much of the credit due to the brilliant Jennifer Lawrence.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released in cinemas today.

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