Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Gladiatorial sci-fi games are back

Film: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Film: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Certificate: (12A)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

JENNIFER LAWRENCE returns as the reluctant warrior-hero Katniss Everdeen in this sequel to The Hunger Games — but be warned, in true Hollywood style there’s yet another instalment to come. This is the second in a sci-fi trilogy based on the novels by Suzanne Collins.

The action takes place in the future. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is staging the 75th annual Hunger Games, which his ruling élite, led by Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) use to keep control of the once-rebellious districts. The games involve children being forced to kill each other in a kind of futuristic gladiatorial battle.

The rules of this movie’s fanciful world were established in the first instalment, but this time Catching Fire is directed by new director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend). The first hour sets up the plot, in which the popularity of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), on a victory tour of the people after success in the last games, comes to the notice of the rather sinister president.

As a result, Katniss and fellow hero Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are drafted into another competition, the Quarter Quell. Their competitors will be past champions like the flashy Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), brainy Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone).

All these characters, including the new gamemaker Plutarch, are very colourful.

But as we said earlier, this is number two in a series of three, which means by definition that it can’t be as shocking and new as its predecessor, and has to keep something in the bag for number three. So don’t expect the heroine to get killed.

It opens at the Regal Picturehouse tonight (Friday). Other new releases to look out for this week include The Selfish Giant and a free members preview of Saving Mr Banks, about the way Mary Poppins was given the Disney touch.

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