Honest Movie Review: Catching Fire

Updated: May 26, 2020

Photo credit: Lionsgate. Katniss Everdeen is forced to do it all over again in The Hunger Games' sequel, "Catching Fire."

Imagine overcoming all odds and probability to survive a 24-person fight to the death, only to discover the crushing news that you will have to do it all over again 12 months later. Welcome to Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games.

But wait. The news gets even worse for heroic teens Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. Unlike the previous year, when the duo navigated their way through a field of fellow adolescents, now they will need to survive against a group of prior champions, a veritable all-star team of past participants.

Against this backdrop, Katniss and Peeta must also deal with a clear-cut case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a result from their experiences surviving the first bloodbath, and manage a developing love triangle that includes the strikingly handsome Gale Hawthorne, a miner from their hometown.

It's difficult enough for Katniss to convince boyfriend Gale that she had been faking her feelings for Peeta to survive, considering he had to sit through the indignity of watching them make out on national television. The plot thickens when it becomes clear, again on national TV, that Katniss is reciprocating the passion that Peeta genuinely expresses for her.

In the original Hunger Games, we think to ourselves that this Panem must be a pretty messed up place to send its children into a contrived slaughterhouse as a national sport. In Catching Fire, we learn just how deranged this society really is.

Segregation is alive and well in Panem, which features a paramilitary police force that makes security in Ferguson, Mo., seem downright passive by comparison. Armed forces, dressed head-to-toe in body armor, act as judge, jury and executioner, and have free license to flog civilians at will.

They are ruthless and won't give a second thought to executing the elderly without shame or hesitation, despite scant provocation, and with little delay. Any dissent to the ruling class, even subtle gestures such as a fashion statement, can result in death by paramilitary beat-down without any due process.

Just how depraved is this society? Even the belief that the wildly popular Katniss is pregnant isn't enough to shut down the annual competition or get her out of it. The show must go on, whether the competitors are with child, in their 80s, addicted to drugs, or mentally disturbed, as is the case with one woman nicknamed: "Nuts."

There can be little doubt that Panem is a sick-and-twisted place. But it sure is an entertaining one.