The trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has finally arrived via the MTV Movie Awards and not only does it meet expectations, but far exceeds them by delivering a more thorough teaser trailer than the one for the first film. However, that initial reaction comes from someone who’s read the books time and time again. As exciting as it can be to see material you know and love come to life, in the case of this promo there’s a chance Catching Fire newcomers are till yearning for a clear-cut narrative to latch onto.
For the Nonreaders
The piece appropriately opens in a way that gives you the sensation that it’s picking up right where the first film left off, making for the perfect stepping stone back into the world of Panem. Whereas the editors could have shown a cut-and-dry clip of Katniss and Peeta greeting the Victory Tour crowds, the scene gets layers and more weight courtesy of the intercutting between that moment and the chat between President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), before culminating with quite the bang.
But now here’s where the teaser trailer starts to lose its footing: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and the rest of the Catching Fire cast still appear to be at the top of their game, but the way the scenes are stitched together it’s tough to figure out exactly where the characters are going and what they’re up against. Clearly President Snow is playing the puppeteer in the situation, but based on this trailer Katniss isn’t directly aware of that, leaving her with no clear-cut antagonist and no clear-cut mission.
However, even when the narrative falters, the trailer has more than enough momentum to carry you through and leave you desperate to know what President Snow means when he suggests eradicating Katniss’ species.
For the Hard-core Fans (Minor Spoilers Below)
Not only is the source material adapted impeccably, but the expansions seem to come during the most opportune moments. Similar to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire looks to get a major boost from more President Snow. While reading the book, you could only speculate on the finer details of his motives, but in this trailer we get a sampling of how much more well-developed the scenario becomes when he outright states his intentions.
The Peacekeeper costume updates are spot-on, making the Capitol-protecting brigade far more threatening just in time for the budding rebellion. Katniss and Peeta also get a wardrobe upgrade, the standout being her dress for the party at President Snow’s mansion. Another visual achievement is the consistency from The Hunger Games to Catching Fire. Gary Ross’ preferred handheld shooting style is still there, but far more refined and the matching color palettes continue to clearly differentiate the Capitol lifestyle from those in the poorer districts, and in both cases make each location feel as though you never left.
The only thing about this teaser trailer that feels a bit off is its intense focus on the rebellion. In fact, it’s so much about President Snow’s repression and the districts’ efforts to fight back that this piece could almost qualify as a trailer for the first Mockingjay movie instead. On the other hand, that is essentially what the first portion of the Catching Fire book is about and this only a teaser trailer, so perhaps there was no other way to format it without coming out with a full-blown theatrical trailer. Plus, that compilation of footage is still very effective. With every tear, punch and explosion, tensions escalate until the teaser explodes in the ultimate cliffhanger – President Snow’s hope to eliminate Katniss’ threat by destroying all of the Hunger Games victors. Even for someone who knows exactly where the story is going, Snow’s words are chilling.
Hopes for the Full Trailer (Major Plot Spoilers Below)
Now that President Snow hinted at the idea, hopes are high that the next trailer might show us part two of Catching Fire, the return to the Hunger Games arena. There is some concern that Lionsgate might steer clear of spoiling that side of the story, but then again keeping big name talent like Jena Malone and Sam Claflin tucked away until release time seems highly unlikely. So, should our next promo come with material from inside the arena, there will be a keen eye on the camerawork and production design in hopes that Francis Lawrence will keep the material tense and raw while the sets well represent the more unique threat.
So far, so good for Catching Fire. Now let’s see what else Lionsgate has to offer when the studio holds its CinemaCon presentation on Thursday.