Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Are young people today becoming desensitized to real world violence around them?
the importance of hope
If real people in our world, who are truly suffering, looked at your life, what would they see? Would your life seem frivolous? Self-indulgent? Excessive?
Are you living a COMPASSIONATE life? (getting involved in helping those who are suffering)
Every human life is valuable. The taking of lives is tragic.
Refuse to give in to evil.
Refuse to compromise about what is truly right and good.
bravery and courage
Evil governments, and our enemy the Devil, use FEAR to control people. How can we overcome that?
importance of personal freedom
dangers of big government control
What are the mechanics of totalitarian governments?
society in a repressive and controlled state, under the guise of being utopian
compare the film’s live televised spectacles to the ancient Roman Colosseum’s games and events, produced for public entertainment and political control
the trilogy’s coming constant battle for freedom against tyranny
media control and manipulation / What are the ways that media “play” the masses in the favor of those in control?
What is generally wrong with the way celebrity is created in our culture?
Are today’s youth being overexposed to contrived reality on television, leading to a detachment from images of others’ real pain and terror?
“What’s your relationship to reality TV versus your relationship to the news?”
Author Suzanne Collins says, “Too much of people’s lives are put on television, and we’re desensitised to actual tragedy unfolding before us.”
Jennifer Lawrence … Katniss Everdeen
Liam Hemsworth … Gale Hawthorne
Josh Hutcherson … Peeta Mellark
Elizabeth Banks … Effie Trinket
Sam Claflin … Finnick Odair
Jena Malone … Johanna Mason
Woody Harrelson … Haymitch Abernathy
Alan Ritchson … Gloss
Stanley Tucci … Caesar Flickerman
Willow Shields … Primrose Everdeen
Philip Seymour Hoffman … Plutarch Heavensbee
Donald Sutherland … President Snow
Jeffrey Wright … Beetee
Stephanie Leigh Schlund … Cashmere
Paula Malcomson … Katniss’ Mother
Lenny Kravitz … Cinna
Amanda Plummer … Wiress
Toby Jones … Claudius Templesmith
See all »
See all »
“Every revolution begins with a spark.”
Prequel: “The Hunger Games” (2012)
“Catching Fire” starts where the first Hunger Games film ended. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peetah Malark (Josh Hutcherson) are the victors of the 74th Annual Hunger Games. After their victory, their life of fame, as the two star-crossed lovers of District 12, takes them on a victory tour through the other 11 districts. As they tour, giving their respects to fallen tributes, the struggle for Katniss and Peetah lies in their “real” feelings for each other off camera. Do they really love each other, or is it just pretend?
In addition, a revolution has begun in the other districts, due to Katniss and Peetah’s victory in the Games, putting President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in a difficult position, pondering how to stop the districts’ uprisings. He decides to use Katniss as an example by destroying her good reputation, and, because it is the Tribunal 75th Annual Hunger Games, to call previous victors to compete once again in the Hunger Games.
These Hunger Games will push Katniss to the breaking point. Will she be victorious once again? Or will the 75th Games prove too much for even the Katniss Everdeen to handle?
Most of readers of this review are probably fans of either The Hunger Games books or the first Hunger Games movie. Personally, I am a fan of the movies, and have never read the books.
My first reaction to this film, based on the trailers was a “goodness, no.” But a friend convinced me to see it, and I fell in love with the series. After viewing the first film, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to review “Catching Fire,” and requested the assignment almost a year beforehand.
Naturally, it stands to reason, my expectations were high for “Catching Fire”. Instead of detailing in a lengthy paragraph what I thought was better in this second installment, I’ll sum it up with bullet points…
The character development: The characters are more developed than in the previous film. We learn more about Katniss as a human being, the side of her when she’s not acting like a tough girl. We see her struggles with the lives she had to take, her conflicting feelings between her life-long friend Gale and her recent attraction (or at least friendship) with Peetah. As for Peetah, we see growth in him as well. His character has developed more from the first film, still showing him as the first guy to sacrifice, while still being able to play politics with the Capitol citizens.
The performances: While the performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, and Josh Hutcherson are certainly fine in “The Hunger Games,” in “Catching Fire” they are mind-blowing, to put it in laymen’s terms. I’m not surprised Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for “The Silver Linings Playbook”. She earned it, and the growth I’ve seen from her professional career in a year is nothing short of impressive.
The scenery: In the first Hunger Games, the setting was limited to District 12, the Capitol, and the arena. In “Catching Fire,” we see the different districts, the Capitol and Arena (I was impressed with the beauty of the Amazon arena). Along with scenery, the special effects are the best I’ve seen thus far.
The violence: This will be where Christian families are going to have to struggle over whether “Catching Fire” is okay to watch. While it’s true this story is fictitious, to some degree, a society like this could exist if given the right circumstances. The violence, just like the first film, is ever present (of course, most of it comes in the Games), and some of the things that happen to the Tributes are downright disturbing (I’ll speak more on that in the Content section below). Look into this movie bearing in mind that what you got in the first film you will get in the second film, and then some.
Content of concern
Violence: Heavy… maybe even Extreme. There are some disturbing scenes that make this movie unsuitable for children under 13 (hence the rating). While there are scenes where people are shot with arrows, machete chopped, and have their necks twisted. There are a couple scenes in District 12 where two citizens are seen being flogged by Peacekeepers in front of the other citizens. While giving a speech during the Victory tour, Katniss, as she’s being dragged into a building, watches an old man being shot in the back of the head as the doors close (we later see his corpse dragged off). Cinna is also flogged, beaten and kicked before the games start. There are several scenes where blood can be seen.
One scene that is sickening occurs during the Games, a poisonous fog comes across the fields, and when Tributes touch it, it burns them and leaves blisters (or boils) on their skin (they clear up, but we hear the Tributes scream in the process). Other scenes that are a problematic involve Tributes being rained on with blood, one Tribute sacrificing herself, dead bodies floating in the water, and people being shocked by force fields. I’m probably missing some of the violent scenes, but the bottom line is that there is A LOT to look out for.
Profanity: Mild to Moderate: I heard one instance of “sh*t.” When being interviewed on TV, Joanna, a Tribute, when asked why she’s angry says something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m angry. I thought when I won I could live in peace and not have to fight again. I got scr*wed!” and then throws the f-bomb out to the people to hear. Other profanity includes two instances of sh*t, some instances of d*mn (according to another source, PluggedIn).
Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy. Several passionate kisses are exchanged. One of the Tributes kisses Katniss on the lips. One scene is where Joanna walks into the elevator with Peetah and Haymitch and Katniss and starts undressing until she is nude in front of them and walks out of the elevator (most of her nudity is not shown, shots are shown from her back and of her shoulders). Joanna, while walking out, makes a comment to Peetah to the effect that since he’s a victor, all the girls want to “sleep” around with him.
Other Content: People are seen at a party being served a drink that makes them throw up in order to eat more. There are scenes where blood is shown. Peetah and Katniss continually lie to the public (except during their speeches to the other districts), and Peetah even remarks that Katniss and he are married and expecting a child. There’s also a really creepy scene that will remind many of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”
Themes of courage, bravery, and sacrifice are present in “Catching Fire.” But one theme sticks out just as much… the idea of being true to yourself. Katniss and Peetah have to lie and “pretend” about their relationship on camera, because of their fame and the actions of the Hunger Games. Even Peetah remarks, “I can’t pretend to be in love on camera and then not when off camera.” The same is true with the Christian walk. In order to be a true follower of Christ, we are asked to choose who we are. The Bible says that those who cannot choose whether they love God or not are people that God considers lukewarm and that He spits them from his mouth. Being true to yourself and to God is what faith and belief are centered around.
As I was searching around other sites this week, I looked back at the review from Mr. Landes who reviewed the first Hunger Games on this site. His stance, as far as I read, was that violence as entertainment in this form, should not be promoted. He is right. This movie, without a doubt, is disturbing. (Don’t see “Catching Fire” if you have not seen the first, either).
What we have in “Catching Fire” is still the same amount of violence as the first, still making it offensive to watch, but it is a sequel where the violence isn’t quite the primary focus this time around. The moviemaking quality, the take on the story, and the performances, in general, are much better developed. I’m sure in the viewer comments there will be those who are for and against this film. Personally, I loved this installment, even though, from a Christian perspective, I can’t recommend it. I definitely DO NOT recommend it to children in any way, shape, or form, or to anyone who cannot handle extreme violence. But, teens and adults, if you are willing to look past the violence, to the deeper side of this film, you may wish to see it. Ultimately, it’s up to the viewer to decide…
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.