The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

ImageLast Friday I had decided to make the day a double feature to which included watching Jennifer Lawrence jump and strut around the screen for about four hours( I saw both Catching Fire and American Hustle). Needless to say I was in heaven.

Being an avid reader and fan of The Hunger Games novels, and the overal theme and messages surrounding this fictional world of Panem, I had high expectations once again for the latest film installment in this series. Catching Fire was my favorite out of the book series because there is nothing that catches the attention of a reader more than the spirit of revolution and revenge!

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark both won. Or so they thought. They were declared victors of the Hunger Games—the highest achievement someone from one of Panem’s 12 outlying districts could ever hope for. They both survived, marking the first time in the Games’ bloody 74-year-history that two people walked out of the arena alive. They became instant national celebrities. The Capitol, they’re promised, will take care of them for the rest of their lives.

Nevertheless it is the hollowest of victories and the most excruciating of celebrations, they soon find. They have been forced to kill for their crowns, and the pain and guilt of the blood on their hands eats at them. Their stardom has done little to ease the suffering in their home district 12. Their beautiful state-provided houses feel like mausoleums—stasis cells for the near dead. And every so often, they’re trotted out for the cameras like 4-H cattle, propaganda paraphernalia for the Capitol. They begin to understand why their mentor, Haymitch, drinks himself to oblivion; why other past champions have retreated behind a haze of medication or insanity.

Katniss and Peeta survived, but no one wins the Hunger Games. They may have walked out of the arena, but the Capitol took their lives from them all the same.

And now President Snow wants even more.

When Katniss and Peeta nearly committed suicide in the Games to keep from killing each other, most viewed it as an act of true love. But for some, it was disobedience—a finger in the eye of the Capitol. Rebellion is brewing, and Snow, Panem’s tyrant in chief, feels there’s only one way to quell it: Bring Katniss to heel or eradicate her for good.

Thus, Snow abruptly announces a change for the upcoming 75th Hunger Games, in honor, ostensibly, of the third “Quarter Quell.” For the first time ever, former victors—those supposedly safe for life—will return to the arena to kill again. Katniss and Peeta are, of course, all but assured to be among their number.

Now, while in the theater I was obviously surrounded by tweens and their parents, and It was interesting listening to how the parents tried to explain to their kids after the movie about how governments can get out of control and what the movie was trying to explain. However, trying to explain these things to kids Is like trying to explain to your grandparents how ‘Snapchat’ works or what the point of ‘sexting’ is ( there is no point in doing either).

Yes, we get it. Living in a fictional world like Panem would suck harder than a shop-vac or the  Maple Leafs during their holiday road trip out West to face San Jose, Dallas, L.A Kings etc. What is great about The Hunger Games series, and especially Catching Fire, is how close the writer comes to telling the truth through fiction. After all, to tell a great story of fiction one has to come close ( but not too close) to allowing reality to almost touch fantasy — its like sexual tension between two people except with words, plot and atmosphere.

Case in point, during the film it is pointed out by one of the victors that the purpose of the Hunger Games, and the celebrity status surrounding the victors, is solely meant to serve as a distraction for the general populous so as to divert their attention away from how shitty their lives are. It is also about control of the minds and behavior of the people of Panem. Sound familiar?

We too live in our own version of Panem here in Western Civilization where we too have the ‘Bread and Circus’ propaganda shoved down our craniums as to divert our attention away from the shitty economy, the corruption and the general raping of our way of life by the very few corporations to which control our world. Essentially the Hunger Games book and film series is social, economical and political commentary on the state of affairs in Western culture; specifically America.

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Panem represents America in the most obvious of ways. There were once 13 districts( 13 colonies) the new capitol is now based in what would be considered today’s Denver Colorado region. The districts represent the economical resources to which were the backbone of a once exceptional nation before it was consumed by power, greed and tyranny. The Hunger Games keeps a population in check through fear, and serves as a reminder of why they have them every year— it reminds the population as to why the government must control their lives for the sake of ‘safety’ and ‘peace’. Their ‘Peace Keepers’(Storm Troopers) do the exact opposite as to what their name represents; basically it is an Orwellian parallel to what is happening in today’s society. This is why The Hunger Games is more than just a series for the younger audience — it carries an adult message.

So, if you want to go see a ‘thinker’ and expand your mind about the state of affairs of the world to which we are currently living in, or if you just want to see Jennifer Lawrence in tight clothing for 2 hrs and 18 min, then The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is sure to not disappoint you.

The odds seem to be in our favor for a good time either way.

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