The Hunger Games franchise has initiated a ravenous hunger in audiences which only appears to be generating further momentum. The sequel, Catching Fire, brilliantly blends the allure of the first with the push required to drive along the story. Katniss Everdeen, portrayed by the wonderfully likeable and mesmerising Jennifer Lawrence is really a character to care for. Having proved victorious the first time around but threatening the precarious structure surrounding her, she is thrown into a Quarter Quell, a furious reunion of old champions relentlessly pursuing victory.
Dystopian, totalitarian, patriarchal and futuristic, the series mixes garish, grotesque capitalism and control with bare, bleak impoverished districts. The whacky, cartoonish, unsophisticated colours and fashions of the Capital remind me dimly of our modern day pop culture and its icons; Rihanna, Miley, Gaga. What is fundamentally refreshing about this series is that young girls finally have a heroine, an idol whom represents qualities they should strive for within themselves: independence, strength, intelligence, spirit and endurance. Katniss is the anti-Miley. She represents power, assertiveness and vivacity as well as a sense of courage and tenacity that is deeply appealing to young girls who scramble for role models and so desperately struggle to find good ones. She is particularly enticing because she is active, dominant and full of vigour whilst never sacrificing her femininity or womanhood.
Excitingly action packed and teeming with adrenaline, nerve-fraying, nail biting and intense, this is an unflinching look at the power of systems and the generation of fear and the human struggles that exist beyond the walls. It is also a hugely cathartic experience that reminds of the power of the individual to initiate hope and opportunity within the dispirited. Although my theatre was packed with pre-pubescent girls and middle aged couples (predominantly women!) I was also, as a 24 year old, absolutely sucked into this story. This shows that women have buying power and that they want to see a new kind of heroine represented on screen. They say that all the best characters are men, but perhaps we are seeing the dawn of exciting new representations of women and what they can do. Katniss never feels helpless, even in her vulnerability, never silly, even in her exotic dresses and extreme makeup, never gullible when trusting, never sexualised when beautiful and never butch when she behaves in an untraditional sense. She simply is a liberated, fleshed out character.
A little bit of Battle Royale, 1984 and The Running Man this is a story of the indomitable endurance of the human spirit and our capacity to survive and love. There is something for all audiences. There is the necessary love triangle that so rivets teenage girls; stable but uninspiring Peeta and handsome, solid Gale as well as some very handsome specimens of men to witness participating in the games. There is also the beauty of the sets, clothing and makeup which really helps to strengthen the uniqueness of this warped new world. There is the action, the fighting and the strategy required to survive the games and there is the ongoing saga of Katniss’ own personal happiness and future beyond this hell.
I can’t help but think the casting of Lawrence was simply brilliant for she helps bring this story to monumental life and deserves every second of her overwhelming success.