If your tween daughter is asking for a bow and arrow for a holiday gift, blame Katnis. For “Hunger Games Part II” is now a movie, and it is better than part one.
The premise of the Hunger Game triology is that there is a “reaping” of children to fight to the death in the Hunger Games each year, as a punishment for an uprising against the central government.
In part one, Katnis, (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) a lass from the coalmining district 12, not only manages to win but to save her partner from District 12, Peeta, (Josh Hutcherson) with a ruse that if they both weren’t allowed to live they would both commit suicide.
However, her actions was interpreted by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and many of those resenting the tyranny of the Capital district as a political action, one of rebellion against the compassionate Capital. So both President Snow and Katnis’ mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) advises her to use the “Victory tour” of the districts to impress them that her act of rebellion was not because she was a political rebel, but a teenager in love. The fact that Katnis already has a boyfriend in District 12 complicates the ruse, but never mind.
It doesn’t work very well, and soon pictures of Katnis’ “Mockingjay” pin are being posted on walls and Katnis is becoming the focus of rebellion. And maybe not just Katnis: President Snow realizes that the victors of the past Hunger Games, who become celebrities, could also be the focus of the simmering rebellion, so orders that the 75th games will consist of past victors fighting each other to survive. He also hopes that Katnis will fight ruthlessly and destroy her image of a heroine who only kills to defend those she loves.
The fighting is only the last half of the movie, and has all the twists and special effects your 13 year old son could wish for. But again a twist at the end saves her life and sets up the plot of the last part of the trilogy, which is reported to be now in two parts.
So why spend your hard earned money to see a violent film? The violence is limited, and the plot is character driven (meaning if you missed part one, you may not realize the nuances).
And the cinemetography is better: Part one was dark and vague, to minimize the violence. But in Catching fire, the “fighting” part doesn’t start until the last half of the film.
Is there a political aspect? Yes and no. The original plot was inspired on pondering that rich effete Americans watched the carnage of Iraq on their TV sets. But the plot goes back to Thesues fighting the monitor. and the Roman names of those living in the Capitol district hint of the Roman empire’s control of the barbarians, with their “games and circuses”.
Although a few bloggers see the Capitol as an echo of the growing distance between the elites of America and the ordinary workers, the parallel actually is closer to the control police states of communism,/fascism, where people were ruthlessly forced onto collective farms or factories by the benevolent dictator.
In other words, if you see this with your children, the conversation might lead into Greek mythology, the history of Rome, and the forgotten tyrannies of the twentieth century that killed 30 million people to establish a utopia.
Not bad for an escapist movie.
I give the movie four stars out of four.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.