“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
Class warfare is a prevailing theme in the first Hunger Games movie. This theme gives the setting an eerie feel, where the rich and extravagant are so depraved, they exult in the drama that plays out in the murder-for-sport that is designed to keep the have-nots repressed.
The heroin of the story, Katniss Everdeen is chosen to fight once again for district 12. For the sequel, we’re introduced to a Katniss in better financial position but much worse off in her mental and emotional state, reaping the consequences of surviving the hunger games. As Katniss’s advisor Haymitch said, “Nobody wins the hunger games. There are survivors.”
Katniss is changed from the innocent but virtuous girl to a woman desperately clinging to her identity while taking up the challenge of leading a rebellion she unwittingly began with a powerful act of mercy. “Catching Fire” opens with Katniss suffering P.T.S.D., dutifully playing her role as a puppet on the government’s propaganda machine.
Her job is to publicly thank each district for their “tribute,” a political word for human sacrifice in dystopia. If she speaks against the governing authorities, they visit the consequences on the innocent, keeping Katniss and all surviving participants of the hunger games in check.
Katniss is caught in a game of cat and mouse with the President who is not only plotting her demise but uses the media and military to sever her relationships. He and the new chief game engineer are planning a timely death for Katniss, one that will come on the heels of her desecrated name. The plot that unfolds between Katniss and the President is very much like Gladiator; the masses are the greatest asset and liability for their leader: while Katniss survives, she continues to defy the powers that be, but her untimely death might also spark revolution.
The tension for our heroin is that her anger, righteous though it may be, is changing her and she doesn’t have the emotional maturity to stay rooted in her core beliefs. The question is whether her peers and mentors can guide her as she leads the people to a rebellion and keep not only her name intact, but also her moral center as well. Katniss would be better off if she could simply run. The game she plays is breaking down her moral fiber, and her resolve to fight will either make her the joan of ark of her time, or turn her into her enemy.
The violence in the Hunger Games sequel is much less prominent than in its predecessor. While there are many deaths, most of them are reported over the media and not seen. Also, there are no children in this sport. It’s the 75th anniversary of the oppressive regime’s hunger games, and the president takes the opportunity to pit all the former survivors against one another.
Having said that, though it seems to play to a young demographic, the movie is very dark, and that is already enough to turn potential audiences away. If that’s the case, I won’t try to persuade anyone to see this, but the reason I’m willing to watch the whole movie, even the parts that are hard to watch, is because they demonstrate the weight of the choices the protagonist makes and how they shape her.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
My overall rating: Four and a half stars out of Five