Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Hunger Games Catching Fire

On returning to the Odeon I used mist f my remaining Premium card points for a cherry one scoop ice cream although there were sufficient left for a two or three scoop helping an then enjoyed sitting in a comfy chair before entering the theatre which was not ready. The selected Premium seat was too close to the screen for my liking and I was able to move two rows back which was excellent.

Given the good publicity I had nearly gone to see the first film but the subject of a competition in which the contestants killed each other did not appeal.

After surviving the 74th Hunger Games, "tributes" Katniss( the female) Everdeen and Peeta( the male) Mellark return home to District 12. They now are required to take a victory tour of the country. President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss and tells her she inspired rebellions in the districts when she and Peeta threatened suicide so both might survive the games. He orders Katniss to convince the country her and Peeta's love was real and the reason for their actions, and to convince Snow himself.

The tour first visits District 11, home of Rue, the young girl Katniss tried to protect in the Games. Katniss and Peeta voice their personal thoughts regarding both districts' fallen tributes. A man in the crowd whistles the tune Katniss and Rue used to signal each other, and makes the three-finger salute of District 12. Everyone in the crowd follows suit until a Peacekeeper shoots the man dead, shocking Katniss. Their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, tells Katniss and Peeta the "show" of their relationship must continue for the rest of their lives. Katniss suggests a public engagement between herself and Peeta, which is carried out and celebrated at Snow's home in the Capitol. They are horrified at the extravagance and the food where as once the Romans are reported to do, they make themselves sick in order to be able to eat all the food available while those in the district starve.

Returning home, Katniss warns her friend Gale Hawthorne(male) of Snow's threat to kill both their families. Peacekeepers crack down in District 12, and Gale is publicly whipped after attacking new Head Peacekeeper Romulus Thread because of his action in attacking an elder without cause. As he threatens to also kill Katniss he is informed who she is and also about Peeta and reluctantly holds back promising that next time he will not be influenced thus also revealing that having give free reign to his security butchers the President is unable to control what they do,

Snow announces Panem's third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Games held every 25 years. This is the idea of Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman as a way of turning the population away from Katniss as she is forced to kill the other Tribute involved in order to survive although she is to be killed as well. The Tribute survivors from previous years are also viewed as threat and therefore will be killed as a consequence..

Katniss immediately devotes herself to ensuring Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell's victor, should he compete in the Games, still full of guilt about those she has killed and reluctant to kill again, with only the threat to her family holding her back from open rebellion.

At the selection process, Katniss, the district's only living female tribute is selected, and Haymitch as arranged selected by chaperone Effie Trinket an extraordinary vain and superficial female creature who appears oblivious to the reality of the world around her, or so t appears. However Peeta volunteers to take Haymitch's place and the system is such that this has to be accepted be accepted and the couple are taken quickly tot eh official trains, without a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

We see the process of training, developing their skills and a performance test together with introductions to the other contestants. Katniss resists the plan to join forces with some of the contestants but under pressures selects Mags an elderly woman who has volunteers to protect a younger woman from her district as a couple who although intelligent appear to lack the ferociousness of the other including a city socialite who appears self cantered an confident. She is counselled to reconsidered. Peeta pretends they have married in secret and that Katniss is also pregnant and while this also affects the audience is has no effect on he President

They have already attracted great attention in the City on the official grand drive in chariot when their outfit appears to catch fire in a form of phosphorescence. For the TV audience watched ceremony, the dress designer had insisted she wears When she twirls in the dress to display it to the audience, it bursts into flames and transforms into an outfit resembling a mocking jay, designed by Cinna. As a punishment for the scene it caused, Cinna is savagely beaten seconds before an onlooking Katniss enters the arena.

This they quickly find is a large area of tropical forest with beach and pools and where there is one pool which appears to marked in twelve segments with a construction at the centre which appears as the contest continues.`

Moments after the Games begin, Katniss allies with Finnick Odair the self possessed young socialite from the city who also has been given a hold present to indicate that he is one of her allies together with the elderly woman called Mags and soon after moving forward in the jungle an electrical forecefield shocks Peeta, stopping his heartbeat until Finnick revives him.

It begins to emerge that once every hours lightening strikes the same tree causing a new threat to beset the competitors with the second a dense low lying creeping fogs which becomes poisonous to the exposed body when touched.

Mags sacrifices herself to a poisonous fog to allow Finnick to save Peeta instead of her and they only survive by realising that although painful water acts as mins to cleansing the skin. The temperature in the forest and atmosphere causes dehydration but somehow supporter part of the games organisation has provided them with a tap which can be used by inserting into tree to siphon off water.

The next problem encountered are murderous apes attack. Peeta is again saved when a woman from District 6, a camouflage expert and drug addict, sacrifices herself. They escape to the beach, and are met by District 3's tributes, Wires and Beetle, and District 7's tribute, Johanna Mason who are there to join forces

It is only then that one of new arrivals, Wires discovers the arena is designed like a clock and every hour a specific attack occurs in its designated section. Having worked this out Snow and his game organisers start to rotate the clock in such a way as the tm cannot work out which sector is to become the focus of an attack.

He dies and another of the newcomers works out away to electrocute the two remaining tributes outside the alliance, District 2's Brutus and Endbrain, using wire and a tree that is struck by lightning each noon and midnight. Johanna and Katniss lay the wire while Finnick and Peeta guard Beetle as he wraps the tree. When the wire snaps, Johanna attacks Katniss, cutting the tracker out of her arm. Katniss tries to find Peeta at the tree. Unable to, she attaches the remaining wire to an arrow and shoots it at the force field during a lightning strike, destroying the arena and causing a power failure

Katniss awakens in an aircraft with an unconscious Beetee. Entering the cockpit she finds Haymitch, Finnick and Plutarch Heavensbee, the head gamemaker, revealed to be a rebel against Snow. Learning she is on her way to District 13, though Johanna and Peeta were taken away by the Capitol, she attempts to attack Haymitch for not fulfilling his promise of saving Peeta. Plutarch sedates her and she awakens days later with Gale by her side, who informs her that her family is safe but District 12 has been destroyed.

The film can be appreciated at several levels. It an engaging adventure with excellent acting. It can also be regarded as logical extension of the current enthusiasm for televised reality show with the latest series about surviving in the wilds of Australia Get me out of Here, recently completed. It is also about divide and rule, bread and circuses and length which ruthless dictators and those who gain from operating a regime going to any lengths to preserve their position. It was the right film at the right time
I was also impressed with the performance of Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss.