Disturbing and entertaining story of oppression and rebellion
The first time I heard about the concept of The Hunger Games I was horrified at the basic concept, not understanding that the story was on my side. That point becomes much clearer in this second film of the trilogy. Whereas the first film leaves you feeling mostly hopeless, as it was meant to, Catching Fire, with all of its brutality and heartbreak, drags you through and then lifts you up, just enough to forshadow hope for what Mockingjay will bring.
The most compelling thing about The Hunger Games are the themes which coexist in the real world today: the duality and contrast of violence against and oppression of the citizens versus the wealth and disgusting excess of the Capitol. As is in our country today, the media tries to distract the citizens from the reality of poverty and inequality of distribution of wealth with celebrity fashion and romantic fairy tales, and as in many nations ruled by dictatorships, uses random brutality against its own citizens to try to instill fear to keep them under control.
Although the early violence in this film brings to mind the genocide and torture that happens in middle eastern countries, there is little blood, and for the most part it makes its point and moves on to the horror of the Games. However those earlier violent scenes are otherwise realistic and definitely not for young children.
As our protagonist tours the districts, she sees signs that the capital is losing control, and even as they are using her to keep it, she is becoming an unwitting symbol of hope and rebellion for the citizens. Only when President Snow realizes he can't stop the tide does he decide to send her back into The Games, determined to kill her this time by any means necessary. But as the opening ceremony begins, it becomes apparent that the rebellion is also coming from within the Capitol.
Jennifer Lawrence shines the most when she is channeling unimaginable anguish and rage, (or fending off Jack Nicholson) and when Katniss realizes she has to go back into the Games while suffering from PTSD, you look at her face and you feel what she feels.
The teasers tell us many times that this episode is all about knowing who to trust, which is very much true, but not apparent until the final scenes. The new characters are charming and mysterious. The new Head Gamemaker is immediately introduced as a possible ally; Philip Seymour Hoffman's quiet and focused demeanor could go either way, as is the case with former games winner Finnick, with Sam Claflin's sly smile impossible good looks, and gregarious personality. Woody Harrelson's alcoholic Haymitch is toned down and much less pathetic this time around, and Jenna Malone's Johanna provides spunky dark humor.
Despite these questions, with this second installment the most important thing really is to "Remember who the real enemy is".
And it's done; I'm officially a 45 year old fangirl.
This title contains:
Positive role models
Violence & scariness