By Julie Samrick
Every once in a while a movie sequel is better than the original. This is the case for Catching Fire, the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy based on the books by Suzanne Collins.
The heroine of the story, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) struggles to readjust to normal life after triumphing in the 74th annual Hunger Games a year prior. So as not to incite rebellion, Katniss must pretend she is grateful for her rich, new lifestyle. Though revolutionary thoughts seethe within her, Katniss must also keep up the ruse she’s in love with her co-victor, Peeta, even though her feelings for childhood friend Gale are just as strong. When the government grows suspicious, they decide the upcoming 75th Hunger Games will have a new twist…24 past winners of the games will be pitted against each other “as a reminder even the strongest can’t overcome the power of the Capitol,” thereby throwing Katniss and Peeta back into treacherous terrain.
The first half of the film is a slow build-up to the action, focused more on the psychology behind everyone’s feelings. While the first film had more action from the start, Catching Fire is truer to the book. If parents of tweens were uncertain if they should allow their kids to read The Hunger Games’ books, the first movie made it clear they should not. The violence in the first Hunger Games movie should’ve earned it an R rating. It’s dark, morose and the brutality of many of the teens is reminiscent of the kid killers in Children of the Corn, numb to pain and suffering, thrilled to kill. In the book, some children are like this, but certainly not to the level of viciousness portrayed in the movie.
In contrast, the bulk of enemies in Catching Fire are not other people but floods, poisonous gas, wild animals, etc. Because of this, it was not as violent as The Hunger Games. There are still some scary parts for children under 13- electrocutions, shooting, fights, but Catching Fire truly earns its PG-13 rating, no more.
Kid Focused Grades for Catching Fire: B (not for children under 13)
Compelling story line- A
Themes surrounding different types of government can be discussed. What would it be like to live in a totalitarian society? How does this film show the fear technology can be too invasive? Discuss irony in Catching Fire.
Strong message- A
Stay true to your self and others; loyalty is vital; never give up, etc.
Leading character is a role model- A
Katniss may not be perfect, but she’s loyal to others and puts others’ needs before her own.
Sexual or adult content –C
One character strips down and we see her naked back. She says something to Peeta along the lines of, “Do you know everyone wants to sleep with you?” Katniss also passionately kisses both Gale and Peeta several times each. There are a few times drinking is brought up. Once Peeta is offered a drink at a party that “will make him sick so he can eat some more.”
Language and Violence- D
The “s” word is used and once the “f” word is bleeped out during a television show segment. There are inferred deaths, floggings, fights and outside elements are often the enemy, wreaking havoc on others. Unlike R-rated movies, much of the violence is inferred instead of directly seen. Still, for young children, this violence could be upsetting.
Suited for the whole family- C
Not for children under 13.
Overall Kid Focused Grade for Catching Fire: B
Running Time: 2 hours 26 minutes
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