On November 22, the world will be watching the big screen as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark once again face the Capitol of Panem in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire follows our two victors as they become targets of the vicious Capitol in the 75th Annual Hunger Games, fresh off their win from the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Check out the list below to see why the sequel will best its excellent predecessor.
A meatier budget
The Hunger Games, on just a $78 million dollar budget (considered minor for its blockbuster scope), brought in $407,999,255 in ticket sales worldwide. However, while the movie rightly opened to critical appraise, some of the effects and settings were questionable due to the tight budget, and the filmmakers had to thoroughly pick and choose what was going to work as they transferred images from the page to the screen. This time around though, the studio and crew can afford to stick closer with the book as Catching Fire doles out an $140 million dollar experience – a substantial increase, meaning a slicker, more immersive experience; rightly so, considering all the action (and its surefire win at the box office).
A new plot
Sure, fans of the books know Catching Fire’s structure may echo its predecessor, but this time around, the stakes are higher, the cast is bigger, and the politics are more pronounced – especially, as The Hunger Games: Mockingjoy – Part 1 rolls around the corner a year from now. Also, the new arena is a wowser (courtesy of Plutarch Heavensbee played by Philip Seymour Hoffman).
It’s not that Gary Ross didn’t do a great job, but his implementation of the “shaky cam” wasn’t always effective, especially during scenes of intense action. Director Francis Lawrence steps into the chair for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and according to early reviews, he is a fine replacement. Lawrence’s previous credits include the action-heavy flicks I Am Legend and Constantine, so he should feel right at home tackling the new arena and its challenges and also working with the increased budget to shine things up. Also, from the looks of the trailers, there’s not a whole lot of shaky cam going on…
The cast know their roles
Now that we’ve seen what Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are capable of in these roles and were memorable, it will be a joy to see them again onscreen. It will also be a delight to see fan favorites like Finnick Odair played by Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Johanna Mason played by Jenna Malone (Donnie Darko) making their debuts.
The tease of an uprising
Something I hope we’ll get to see more of in this second installment is life outside the arena and how the Hunger Games, especially the 74th annual win by Katniss and Peeta, has affected not only our victors but their families and districts as well; oh and the Capitol – something only teased at in the original.
Let’s just say I’ve already bought my premiere tickets and the wait has been painful. Here’s to hoping I’m right, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire can successfully build upon its excellent predecessor.