Expanding on the socio-political themes inherent in Suzanne Collins’ novel in addition to being a terrifically entertaining blockbuster, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire proves that this franchise is still at the top of the food chain when it comes to young adult films. As book-to-film adaptations go, it’s damn near perfect.
A year after surviving the 74th annual Hunger Games, an emotionally-damaged Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is back in the impoverished District 12 living in ‘Victor’s Village’ along with her family and co-winner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). While embarking on their mandatory victor’s tour, the dissent that Katniss’ act of defiance has inspired among the various districts becomes more and more vociferous. With rebellion on the horizon, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) hatches a plan with new gamekeeper Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) that sends Katniss and other victors back into the arena once more.
After a five-year hiatus, Paul Thomas Anderson follows up his Oscar-winning There Will be Blood (2007) with The Master (2012), an overly complex tale which is nonetheless magnificently acted and shot. The film begins and ends with Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a WWII veteran who is having difficulty adjusting to life after war. Mentally and emotionally disturbed, Freddie bounces around from one job to another, unable to find peace due to his violent outbursts and alcoholism. One night, Freddie sneaks his way onto a yacht belonging to Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the founder of a radical new movement called ‘The Cause’.