After three culturally prodigious days in New York City, days and evenings infused with the majesty of Magritte, Chagall and Shakespeare, I was content being a passive spectator to the post-apocalyptic universe of “Panem”, an autocratically dominated environment where predestination is orchestrated by an amoral “President Snow” (Donald Southerland once again, recreates his delicious, devilishly destructive role).
Never having read the enormously popular trilogy by Suzanne Collins; the first film “The Hunger Games”, though extremely well done, was profoundly problematic; disturbingly imbued with unanswered questions; powerfully, pungently imaginative; redolent with unlikely metaphors; many of these anomalies were clarified in the second movie, “Catching Fire”.
The film commences with the previous winners of “The Hunger Games”: “Katniss Everdeen” (Jennifer Lawrence) and “Peeta Mellark” (Josh Hutcherson) forced to do a twelve- day promotional tour of all the districts; disgruntled, unhappy foils of a perverse, cruelly inhumane, diabolical government. Katniss’s undisguised loathing of the system inspires retribution in the form of a new game, pitting previous winners against each other; the contest takes place in a manufactured, sunless bubble, where all the participants are perpetually manipulated and televised 24/7; prurient and unpalatable voyeurism.
Jennifer Lawrence is stratospheric as Katniss, a modern equivalent of the archetypal Greek goddess “Artemis” (“Diana” in Roman mythology); with her bow and arrow she is the protector of the disenfranchised and vulnerable; mistress of light in a blighted, shadowed world. Lawrence with immense intelligence, sensitivity, sheds the “girlishness” of the victor and becomes a woman of incomparable substance and strength; inspiring fear in the nefarious, hope in the righteous.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is a contemporary morality play, with mythic overtones; virus of evil, fighting the anesthetic of goodness; frenzied monkeys, viscous, poisonous fog versus the mettle of the just; purification, damnation, emerging from conflagration; leaving one breathlessly, anxiously anticipating the next match.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!!