Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Nov21Thu

    Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    Jennifer Lawrence gives hope to the oppressed in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. November 21, 2013 by Kristin Ostensen
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    Faith & Friends
    With more than 50 million books sold and a worldwide following, The Hunger Games trilogy is a global phenomenon, appealing to both teens and adults. At the centre of this dystopian epic is Katniss Everdeen, whose bravery captivated audiences in the first Hunger Games film last March. This month, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) returns to theatres in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as the greatest threat the Capitol has ever known.

    As the centre of power in the nation of Panem, in postapocalyptic North America, the wealthy Capitol is harsh and cruel, using fear and intimidation to keep the population in line. As punishment for a failed rebellion against the Capitol many years ago, each of Panem's 12 districts must offer up two “tributes”—one boy and one girl—to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death broadcast on live TV. Twenty-four young people enter the arena. Only one may leave.

    But Katniss, a tribute in the 74th Hunger Games, changed that, committing the ultimate crime: she defied the Capitol and broke the rules of the games so that she and fellow tribute Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson) could both win.

    Now, in Catching Fire, Katniss must face the consequences of her actions. Though a battle has been won, a war is just beginning.

    The Most Dangerous Game
    Catching Fire picks up right where the first film left off—Katniss and Peeta, having just won the Hunger Games, are now embarking on the mandatory “victory tour” of Panem's 12 districts.

    But in the wake of their victory, rebellion has sprung up. Seeing Katniss defy the Capitol has given people reason to believe that a revolution is possible.

    “You've given them an opportunity,” says Katniss' best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). “They just have to be brave enough to take it.”

    However, the Capitol, led by President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), is eager to put down the rebellion Katniss inspired before it gains any ground.

    “She has become a beacon of hope for them,” remarks Snow to Hunger Games organizer Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). “She must be eliminated.”

    Snow finds the perfect way to eliminate Katniss in the 75th Hunger Games. Seeing an opportunity, he decrees that this year's tributes will be chosen from among the existing pool of victors. Once again, Katniss and Peeta find themselves in the arena fighting for their lives, but this time, their chief opponent is not another tribute but the government itself. Can they survive long enough to beat the Capitol at its own game?

    God of Hope
    When we are introduced to Katniss in the first Hunger Games film, she is an ordinary 16-year-old girl living in District 12, the poorest district in Panem. Together with her mother and sister Prim (Willow Shields), she's just scraping by, trying to support her family with her wits, her skill as a hunter and what meagre resources are available.

    But her brave decision to take the place of her sister, who was originally chosen to be a tribute in the 74th Hunger Games, sets her on a revolutionary road. Her willingness to sacrifice herself for the love of others elevates Katniss from ordinary to extraordinary. Though Katniss did not intend to start a full-scale rebellion when she defied the Capitol, her actions show that a fire can be lit by a single spark.

    We can't always predict the impact our actions will have on others, but—like Katniss—we can try to live in such a way that we can be a beacon of hope for those around us. A kind word to a friend in distress may be just what is needed to keep them from despair. A warm meal on a cold night may mean all the difference for a homeless person. Jesus said that an action as simple as giving another person a cup of cold water would not go unnoticed by God (see Matthew 10:42).

    As Katniss discovers in Catching Fire, the right path through a difficult situation is not always clear. She doesn't know whom to trust, or if she'll ever see her family again. In times of crisis, we may feel anxious and alone, unsure where to turn. But we can have the assurance that God offers us hope (see Romans 15:13). He knows our circumstances and offers His love and compassion.

    Ready for Battle
    As Katniss and Peeta prepare for their second Hunger Games, the stakes are higher and the obstacles more formidable.

    Katniss has a choice—to become a pawn in the Capitol's game or a person who takes a stand against injustice. Making the right decision requires her to see past her immediate circumstances and look at the bigger picture. As Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), her mentor, advises her before she enters the arena for the second time, she must “remember who the real enemy is.”

    With a large teenage following, The Hunger Games trilogy has elicited some concern over its violent content and may not be suitable for some viewers. But rather than glorifying violence, the trilogy demonstrates the power of hope and love in the face of adversity.

    Backed by the growing support of the districts outside and some unlikely allies inside the arena, Katniss and Peeta are not alone in their struggle—and neither are we. Even in times when it seems all is lost, God promises that He will never leave us or desert us (see Hebrews 13:5). There's always hope.

    The Salvation Army - - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Contenders: With the support of an old friend and some possible allies, can Katniss have a fighting chance to overthrow the Capitol? (Photos: Courtesy of Lionsgate)

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