“Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
The first criticism is that this is the
second in a trilogy, and it really does not stand alone.
Without having seen the first one, it would take a while to understand
the context of this one. And, of
course, it ends rather abruptly, because, we all know there’s going to be a
That said, for the fans of the books and
the first movie, this one does not disappoint.
The casting decisions were superb, and Jennifer Lawrence is just
perfect in the Katniss Everdeen role; just the right mix of spunky and
vulnerable; bewildered young woman and savvy competitor.
In the not-too-distant future,
Earth is ruled by a powerful plutocracy that keeps most of the “peasant
population” in desperate poverty and perpetual servitude.
Having won the latest brutal Hunger Games, but suffering from
undiagnosed PTSD, Katniss has returned home to a hero’s welcome, and is
trying to learn to enjoy her new-found status as retired celebrity.
She doesn’t have to struggle to survive any more like everyone else,
but she’s having a difficult time becoming accustomed to the “trained
poodle” aspect of her victory. The
oppressive fascist government trots her out for publicity events when they
feel like it. Oh, and they can change
the rules any time they want, too, like when they decide that on the big 75th
anniversary of their rule, they will now require the former victors to compete
again, as well. And that includes our
reluctant heroine, Katniss.
But something is in the air now, that
wasn’t there even last year, when Katniss first competed, and won the hearts
of her countrymen with her determination and resourcefulness.
The populace is getting really tired of being continually oppressed,
and Katniss herself has begun to represent the spirit of rebellion among them.
She, of course, never bargained for this, and doesn’t really want to
be any revolutionary symbol, but of course her fierce independence and genuine
modesty just makes her that much more appealing to a populace starved for
In the annual “Hunger Games,”
contestants from each of the 12 Districts are thrown into a hostile
environment and told to go after each other until only one survives.
A jaded gentry enjoys watching it all on the big screen, like the
ancient Roman citizens used to enjoy going to the Coliseum and watching
gladiators kill each other until only one was left standing.
But, as in the
, the vast majority of the population residing in despair and destitution, if
not outright slavery, provided a fertile seedbed for rebellion; if only they
had a leader---and a cause---they could believe in and trust.
As in the “Twilight” series, part of
the plot’s tension is the romantic triangle between Katniss, her fellow
“tribute” or surviving competitor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and the boy she
left back home, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But
over-the-top secondary roles by Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks threaten to
steal the show from the bland unconsummated romances.
That, and the pulse-pounding drama of the death-dealing competition
Yes, today we look back on the American
Revolution as a kind of romance of high ideals overcoming despotic tyranny,
but in reality, rebellion is rarely pretty; because, as Thomas Jefferson put
it, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and
tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
By any other name, would it smell as
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,