The Hunger Games: Catching Fire taps the zeitgeist with its them-and-us society and the feeling that when money is in the hands of so few, the odds are never in our favour.

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

11-26 13:54 Caijing

The second film in the franchise raises the already-high bar set by The Hunger Games

What are the odds? Like Katniss Everdeen ducking a poison-tip arrow, the keepers of Suzanne Collins’s trilogy of fantasy novels have dodged the perils of the sloppy second franchise film. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is leaner, gutsier and smarter. In hand-to-hand combat, it would have the first film on the floor, trapped in a headlock, whimpering for mercy. Over two-and-a-half heart-pounding hours, it doesn’t drag for a second.A hefty chunk of the story is similar to the last one – except this time there’s more to lose. Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss, whose defiance has revolution a brewin’ in the districts. President Snow (Donald Sutherland, playing evil Santa) can hear the howl of fury rising. ‘Would you like to be in a real war?’ he threatens, shark-eyes glinting. Snow puts his snakish sidekick (Philip Seymour Hoffman) on the job of devising a new version of the Games to eliminate Katniss – a champions’ championship.

J-Law burns the screens. She’s stunning, suggesting a storm raging behind her eyes and powerfully conveying Katniss’s terror of leading the revolution. She’s no Bella Swan. Instead of batting her eyelashes at love interests Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, less drippy this time), she shoos them away to focus on staying alive.

The Games are more fun to watch this time around. In The Hunger Games we got a bunch of samey-looking teenagers fighting to the death. This is the Olympics of Hunger Games, with the best of the best up against each other, like Usain Bolt with daggers in his Pumas. One past winner who ripped a male tribute’s throat out with her teeth bares her sharpened fangs. Perversely, though, it’s a less violent film, as the plot drives forward with a terrific pulse of energy. What’s thrilling (if you haven’t read the book) is that you never know which character is on Katniss’s side. Who can she trust?

Lawrence has first-rate support. Stanley Tucci gets the biggest laughs as the reality TV presenter with a spooky resemblance to Karl Lagerfeld. Even bubbleheaded ditz Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) shows her heart.

Catching Fire looks and feels epic. Hands down it’s one of the most entertaining films of the year. But there’s also something here-and-now about it – it taps the zeitgeist with its them-and-us society and the feeling that when money is in the hands of so few, the odds are never in our favour. The burning question is: just how badass will Jennifer Lawrence get in the next episode?

Cath Clarke

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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