The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second installment of the films based on Joanne Collins’s young adult novels. Although I found it entertaining, I did not like it as much as the first film in the series. (You can read my review of that movie here. I will discuss the reasons for this below.
Catching Fire picks up where the previous film left off. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) returns to her home district after the game. She and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are about to go on a victory tour of the various districts. She meets with President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who warns her that she had better do as she is told, or there will be dire consequences. During the tour, it becomes clear to Katniss that she has become a symbol of resistance to the people. This is clear to the government as well. Snow’s henchman, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) devises a scheme to solve this problem. They will make Katniss fight another Hunger Game, in which she will be made to kill people who have helped her. The aim is to disillusion people who see her as a heroine.
This is where I start to have a problem with this movie. When Katniss arrives at the Hunger Game, the government immediately tries to kill her, sending poisonous fog and giant babbon-like creatures at her, before she has a chance to kill anyone. It seems to me that the makers of this film were more concerned about having a lot of action than they were about maintaining narrative logic. Which is a problem with a lot of Hollywood movies.
The posters for this film feature the line: “Remember who the enemy is.” The line in the movie is actually “Remember who the real enemy is.” It occurs twice: Haymish (Woody Harrelson) says it to Katniss just before the Hunger Game, and a character whom Katniss mistakenly believes has betrayed her says it just before the film’s climactic scene. The word “real” is the most important word in the sentence. The Hunger Games create false enemies, when the real enemy is the government. The Hunger Games is a metaphor for how our society creates false enemies to distract us from our real enemy. This is why the story has had such a strong resonance with many people.