Truly, getting through the first two thirds of this movie is an exercise in resilience – I was having trouble staying awake. In fact, the cinematography and acting felt so lifeless and generic that I actually thought my date, who was quietly groaning and sighing throughout, displayed more talent than what I was seeing onscreen; that Catching Fire is receiving so much praise is even more ridiculous than Jennifer Lawrence winning over Emmanuelle Riva at the Oscars. So without any further asides:
There are elections. There is a train ride to the nation's capitol. Jennifer Lawrence sets her expensive dress on fire, but it doesn't actually burn through for whatever reason. Then Jennifer Lawrence rides in a chariot (also on fire) and then a few minutes later, the hunger games are off again. I was already feeling pretty bummed out that I spent money attending the movie, but even more insulting was the realization that as soon as the games actually began, a clever projectionist could have swapped out Catching Fire for the original Hunger Games movie and I would probably not have noticed.
As the movie informs us, the 75th hunger games are such that every contestant is a hardened veteran, and yet, the action plays out exactly as it did in the first movie, with one deus ex machina after another. Some of the CGI is interesting, but at some point you have to wonder why Jennifer Lawrence's brilliant opponents willingly throw themselves at her in some of the stupidest ways manageable – the giant white dude without armor who only has melee weapons comes at her when she has the height advantage and is in the middle of the open; the nondescript girl whom Jennifer Lawrence shoots in the leg during the incipiency of the games elects to run down a narrow pathway, cognizant of Jennifer Lawrence's abilities as an archer; and maybe there was also something else during that clusterfuck of an action sequence that took place on the spinning island, but I couldn't tell, because the island was... well, spinning. It's this sort of Taken 2-esque fast-cut to fast-cut methodology that's rotting modern action movies from the inside out that ruins the viewer's sense of direction and proportions when trying to understand the action of the action scenes – all I could really make out were closeups of knees and shoulders.
But let's ignore the action for a moment and consider how stupid the whole premise of the The Hunger Games world is – why are the hunger games the only thing anyone ever talks about? The government is shown to be inexorably rich. It's not as if all this wealth sprang up from the ground – so where is the industry? Where are the companies selling hunger games merchandise? Where are any of the businesses that would be necessary for such a government to exist? Instead of inserting even the slightest amount of believability into its world, Catching Fire completely ignores these issues and instead would have the viewer believe that despite the vast infrastructure of it all, society only ever needs to concern itself with the hunger games and that everything else will sort itself out. Sure, there is a brief mention of sponsors, but it's never talked about further or explained. Even fucking Twilight, which I had the misfortune of seeing/reading, was more fleshed out than Catching Fire. And the kicker is, that in knowing this apparent import of the games, the government still elects to shuttle the saviors of the games from district to district, with each occasion becoming a worse PR disaster than the last, with no actual plan in sight (except for the secret one based on an absurd set of unpredictable events involving picking up the not dead girl inconspicuously with the corpse ship after being struck directly by lightning doesn't kill her). Unfortunately, this movie still doesn't have more plot holes than times someone says "Katniss."
And for the record, no one even catches any fire in this movie. What a sham.