I’m curious to see what happens with “Catching Fire.” Lionsgate did a very good job selling “The Hunger Games” to an audience much broader than just fans of the book, and while I was very fond of the film, it was not universally beloved. They may have shifted filmmakers, with Francis Lawrence stepping in for Gary Ross as director this time, but they’re still facing a bit of an uphill battle in convincing the skeptical that they’re going to like this second film more than the first one.
For fans of the Suzanne Collins series, I would imagine they’re already totally onboard and excited and this trailer isn’t about selling them on the film so much as it is a chance to see what choices have been made and how the new cast members look as they join the ensemble. What a difference a year has made in the life and the awareness level of Jennifer Lawrence. Last year when the first film came out, she was a promising young actress whose best known role was in a tiny indie film that made far more noise on the awards circuit than it did at the box-office.
Now she’s an Oscar-winning star whose media blitz for “The Silver Linings Playbook” revealed her as a enormously charming personality who doesn’t seem to take publicity seriously. Suddenly, we all have a much better idea of who Jennifer Lawrence is, and “Catching Fire” is her return to the role that kicked off the best year of her professional life so far.
In the first film, Liam Hemsworth was obviously set up as one point in a romantic triangle that did not manifest. In “Catching Fire,” things get more complicated, and we’ll see more of Hemsworth’s character. We’re also going to see what happens as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) realizes just how dangerous Katniss is as a symbol, and he steps up his efforts to destroy her without inciting a revolution.
The stakes are going to get more and more pronounced in this film, and Philip Seymour Hoffman joins the cast as the new head designer of the Games, the man whose job it’s going to be to take away the hope that Katniss has created in the hearts of the citizens. Let’s take a look at the trailer, which premiered tonight as part of the MTV Movie Awards:
It’s interesting to see Katniss struggle with celebrity at the same time we’re seeing Lawrence struggle with her version of it. Obviously people don’t live or die based on how well Lawrence handles a red carpet at an awards show, but I wonder if anyone had any idea how perfect a fit she’d end up being for the part.
It’s a strong first look at the film, and as “teasers” go, this one’s a really good peek at what they’re doing.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens everywhere November 22, 2013.