Graphic Language: Mild
Nudity: Some, but not shown
Strong Sexual Content: Some
With its smoldering cast, riveting special effects, and a captivating plotline, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is sure to have you welded, or…glued to your seats.
After winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is awarded a home and more money she could stand to spend. However, the ruse that allowed her and her partner, fellow tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) to survive the games together has the President of the Games concerned about an uprising from the districts.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) warns Katniss that she must make the world believe she truly loves Peeta. In fact, she needs to make him believe. He leaves her with a video image of her kissing her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). The message is clear: your loved ones are in danger if there is an uprising.
Due to the mysterious death of Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane, the position is filled with a rotund portly man named Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Together, Heavensbee and Snow plot the demise of Katniss. Her fight for true love during the last Games catapulted her to instant stardom, and she became a symbol of hope for the Districts.
The issue for Snow and Heavensbee was how to kill Katniss without making her into a martyr, for Snow’s greatest fear is having a revolution on his hands. He must keep the people living in the Districts in fear of him, and yet with Katniss, there was now a glimmer of hope that life could be different for the people in the Districts,
“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.”
To dispel the rising determination of the people, the 75th Annual Hunger Games are also known as a “Quarter Quell,” a special breed of games begins. Despite the promise of victors living a life as mentors, no longer in fear, Snow decides to do this special reaping from the victors of previous games.
Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) are the survivors from District 12, and they must work together to survive the skills and expertise of the other victors from the other districts. Not only do they have to outlive the others, they must deal with the plague-like obstacles Heavensbee sends their way in the arena.
The theme of hope is strong and repeated throughout the film. The mockingjay pin Katniss gave to her sister in The Hunger Games is returned to her, and the mockingjay becomes a symbol of hope as well.
The acting in this sequel is incredible—perhaps better than the first, and the first was exceptional. Effie Trinket’s (Elizabeth Banks) character is more developed in this film, showing a softer side of her as she is about to say goodbye to her victors for the second, and perhaps final time.
Peeta’s character remains secondary to Katniss’ yet Hutcherson delivers great lines, such as “If you can stop looking at me like I’m wounded, I can stop acting like it.” And “Lives aren’t measured in years. They are measured in the lives we touch around us.”
While Peeta remains the male version of a damsel-in-distress, his sweetness and quiet love for Katniss stays the course. There are no limits to his sacrificial nature and bravery, and for that, this reviewer found Peeta growing on her more than in the first movie.
Stanley Tucci, who plays narcissistic TV personality Caesar Flickerman, delivers a great performance, and is easily a favorite character. The same is true of Lenny Kravitz, who plays Cinna, Katniss’ now famous clothing designer.
An interesting teeny tiny subplot that added to the delightful allegiance to Katniss and the people in the Districts this reviewer found building inside her heart was when President Snow’s granddaughter began wearing her hair like Katniss. Later, much to Snow’s chagrin, after watching Katniss and Peeta declare their love on television, she remarks that she hopes she can find love like theirs one day.
Make no mistake, Catching Fire is not a full-bodied romantic tale with drama and action mixed in. Instead, the forewarning’s of a government with too much power created chills when one watches the film remembering a famous quote from John Basil Barnhill “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.”
And tyranny is on the horizon for Panem, just not in the way one would expect.
While there is not as much violence shown during the Games as in the first film, there are more public executions and government brutality.
In general, there is more blood shown, as some characters are covered in it during one of the “plagues.”Gale is flogged and Katniss is whipped trying to defend him.
A man kneels down and has a gun pointed at his head. As the door shuts, the gun goes off. There are killings during the Games, similar to the first film, with some of the killings shown, and some just understood to have happened.
Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), one of the victors, strips naked in an elevator with Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta. She has no shame, winking at Haymitch and making eyes at Peeta while asking how it feels to be the person everyone wants to sleep with.
There are a few mildly sweet kisses exchanged between Peeta and Katniss, as well as between Katniss and Gale. After Katniss wakes up from a disturbing bout of nightmares, she asks Peeta to stay with her. There are a few nights they are seen in the same bed, although they are clothed and there is never a hint of impropriety between them.
The theme of hope threads throughout the film, and there are many discussions to be had on the subject. However, a great discussion topic for families deals with one of Catching Fire’s subplots: Peeta and Katniss’ pretend love affair.
In order to save their own lives, as well as the lives of their families and loved ones, Katniss and Peeta must convince the people in the Capitol, and more importantly the people in the Districts, that they are completely and entirely in love.
President Snow’s fear of an uprising is rooted in the fact that people saw Katniss and Peeta’s willingness to die than kill each other in the first Games as defiance, rather than a twist on the Romeo and Juliet tale.
The Bible is clear that God hates a lying tongue. Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”
Also, John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
How then do we deal with lies that are used for good? Is there such a thing? Did Katniss and Peeta choose the lesser of two evils: lying to protect themselves and their families from being killed, or defying the authority of the government (Snow, in this case), and dying anyway?
A biblical parallel may be found in Joshua 2, when Rahab hides Joshua and Caleb on the roof of her house. The guards ask her if the men were there, and she answers saying, “They left.” And yet, Rahab is in the genealogical line of Jesus and was spared from the destruction of Jericho.
Some questions for discussion:
- Are there instances where a lie can be a good thing? If so, what are these instances? Who determines if the lie was “okay”?
- Since God hates lies, does every falsehood count as a sin? Does the motive behind the lie carry any weight? For example, to spare someone’s feelings?
- Do you find yourself fibbing or stretching the truth in your own life? Do you consider yourself to be a liar? Where do you draw the line on “absolute” truth?
Do you want to watch the action packed trailer? Watch Hunger Games, Catching Fire – Official Trailer
To get more movie reviews from a Christian perspective please check out Bethany Jett’s review of Doonby – Movie Review
Featured Image: Photo Courtesy of Murray Close