Wow. I absolutely loved this film! It took me a week or two before I actually had the time and go and see it, but it was worth the wait. Top to bottom, this is just a fantastic film.
First of all, if you have not already, I urge you to read the series of books. They aren’t too long, so won’t take you long to get through, but they are definitely worth a read, and will make your enjoyment of the film much greater.
HGCF follows on from the first Hunger Games film, with Katniss and Peeta as the winners of the 74th Hunger Games. Having shown up the Capitol in an act of defiance, President Snow (The always brilliant, Donald Sutherland) now wants to make the girl on fire pay – and with the 75th games falling on a Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta find themselves back in the games.
This is an absolute must see, IF … and it’s a big IF (!) you have either read the books (at least the first one, preferably the second too) or have seen the first film. If you haven’t, please don’t go … and if you do, don’t spend the entire film asking questions and making stupid remarks, the rest of the audience are there because they have an interest, so don’t spoil their experience. I say this, because unfortunately, I had sat in front of me a person exactly like this, and it is not fun! This is a sequel, so why go see it without any prior knowledge of the story?! Okay, rant over, now into the good stuff.
First off, this film looks great! The Capitol is as spectacular as ever and the new arena is breathtaking. All throughout the film, the scenes have been designed to an absolute tee. It really feels like the book is coming to life. There is always a danger when turning a book into a film that it will not translate well – This isn’t the case for HGCF – this has been crafted so well, that while watching the film I actually felt I had seen it before as almost every scene was exactly how I had pictured it when I read the book. Which is a huge testament to the Suzanne Collins, author of the HG series, and the team the created the movie.
The story is very compelling, and running at almost 2 and a half hours, I didn’t feel like it was too long – for a non fan, this may get tiresome, however having read the book, it does really need to be this long (again why I recommend trying to read the book before viewing).
I thought the casting was great, obviously Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson returned as Katniss and Peeta, but HGCF see’s Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman join the ensemble, and all give great performances, as if they had just stepped off the pages themselves. Of course old faces such as Elizabeth Banks (who was tonnes better in this film than the first), Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz all return, and not forgetting Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. Tucci truly shines in this role, and although a relatively small part, steals the majority of scenes that he is in. I really can’t say enough about the cast, every single character is fantastic.
Not as action packed as a non fan might expect, but fast moving in all of the right places, and offering plenty of emotional scenes (bring some tissues with you – you’ll need them) this film is the whole package. The dynamic between Lawrence, Hemsworth and Hutcherson is very compelling as you want all three to get what they want, which just isn’t possible, and will make you (at least it made me) feel pretty helpless for these characters.
I don’t want to divulge too much of the story, as for those who are fans already know it, and for those that don’t, I don’t want to spoil it for you when you see/read this.
All in all, I don’t think we could have asked for much more from this sequel, as it went above my already very high expectations, and definitely does the book justice. I for one cannot wait to see how the finale is brought to life! My only worry being that, as seems to be the industry norm now, that the final film will be shot in two parts. As the third book is no longer than the first two, I find it difficult to see how this will be stretched over, what I imagine will be, almost 5 hours. I just hope that the quality doesn’t suffer by the story being slowed down far more than it needs to be. However, time will tell and we will have to see when it arrives.
A stellar effort from all involved, a must read/see – 8.5/10