Catching Fire, the second chapter of the blockbuster Hunger Games series, was our pick for Best Film of 2013. When the selection was made, I wasn’t sure, in spite of how much I enjoyed the film, whether the movie would stand the test of the timein the same way that some of last years other heavyweight films, like 12 Years a Slave orHer, surely will. But the thing that kept coming back to me, and the reason that I was ultimately grateful that our staff and readers gave Katniss their three-finger-salute (this is not a dirty joke, I swear), is how much fun I had while watching it in the theater. Catching Fire carries the audience along on a thrill ride, in the way that only the best blockbusters can. It sells the authenticity of its world and its characters in a way the listless first installment never did.
“Fun” is an odd way to think of a film based around child murder, and filled with scenes of torture and grim economic despair, but there’s just no other way to describe it. The movie is entertaining from start to finish. It’s filled with oddball performances from Stanley Tucci and Jena Malone, and action set pieces that feel more engaging than mandatory. And watching Jennifer Lawrence act is definitely fun, in any scene of any movie that she’s in. She makes choices that leads aren’t supposed to make. She’s weird, she’s twitchy, she’s uncomfortable. While her male action counterparts are busy posing, Lawrence is busy surviving, and because of that, we believe in Katniss and her struggle.
Lawrence was good in the first movie, but when paired with a new director, Francis Lawrence, she finally has an adventure that’s up to her level. In their capable hands, Catching Fire becomes that all-too rare thing: a sequel with guts, heart, and brains.
– Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief
Join us on Twitter this Saturday, November 22nd at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific as the Drunk Monkeys Film Department live-tweets The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.