It is fair to say that audiences have been flocking to see HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE, the second in a mooted trilogy for the action. Jennifer Lawrence gives good bow and arrow whether fighting the competitors who are not her allies, burning fog, tidal waves, baboons, blood from the sky, force fields, dehydration, birds that imitate the cries of family members, Amanda Plummer’s annoying ‘tick tock’ and, most spectacularly of all, a wedding dress. Safe to say that after the 2013 Oscar Ceremony, when Jen twirls around, the audience fears for her. Never mind the choice between Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, it is whether Jen should opt for no train over a train that concerns us the most.
In director Francis Lawrence’s movie, fashion matters. Ask Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci who reportedly didn’t want to see the script but instead asked ‘who am I wearing?’ (Well, they didn’t do it for the dialogue, darling.) But what do the costumes and accessories tell us about the characters? I sent fashion correspondents Orlando Crumb and Fantasia Frost to find out.
ORLANDO: Hello and welcome to the fashion extravaganza that is HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE. If you haven’t seen the first film, don’t go expecting any kind of summary. However, you will find out that as a result of not eating poisoned berries, Katniss and Peeta someone survived the 74th Winner Takes All competition to live something like a comfortable existence in District 12. Except Katniss felt sorry for Peeta seeing as he saved her and does not have a family.
FANTASIA: That’s right, Orlando, but it is patronising sympathy affection. She really has the hots for Gale Hawthorne, which I don’t understand as he is played by Thor’s less hunky brother. If I can work my way through the crowd I can see that he is currently being whipped by one of the President’s thugs. Excuse me, Gale. Why do you have a girl’s name?
GALE: Ask Suzanne Collins.
FANTASIA: You’re taking quite a beating for an old lady.
GALE: After the first film, Katniss has given us hope.
FANTASIA: That President Snow will be overthrown?
GALE: No, for another sequel.
FANTASIA: There’s a lot of three finger saluting going on. Kind of fascistic! Is that intended to be ironic?
GALE: I don’t know what you mean.
FANTASIA: So why are you doing this really?
GALE: Well, I don’t have any proper action scenes. Katniss is haunted by visions of past contenders – in the first part of the movie anyway before the screenwriters forget about it. So I thought - any excuse to take off my shirt.
FANTASIA: Not a good idea, if I may say so.
KATNISS: Excuse me. Stop what you’re doing?
FANTASIA: But it’s in his contract.
KATNISS: I mean the whipping. The thug might get the idea that he plays an important part later on.
THUG: I do, don’t I?
KATNISS: Read the script.
THUG: Dang. I just looked at my outfit. I asked the designer: why aren’t my legs protected? People could shoot me in the thigh and I would just topple over.
FANTASIA: Interesting, I noticed that too. Kind of a plot flaw! Back to you, Orlando.
ORLANDO: I’m with Peeta who is wearing what looks like a hoodie back to front. This is what you sport when you are presented on your victory tour.
PEETA: Some victory. I don’t even get the girl.
ORLANDO: I’m not sure I blame her. You wear that hood like it’s a floppy collar.
PEETA: I think it is a floppy collar.
ORLANDO: I think it’s supposed to catch your drool. After all, your co-star has just won a Best Actress Oscar and is rising up the ‘It’ List.
PEETA: Well, I’ve read the script and after reading a bunch of cue cards in an unconvincing manner, I know something bad will happen to Katniss and me.
ORLANDO: You’ll have to fight in the 75th Games.
PEETA: No, we’ll be hosting the Nickelodeon Movie Awards.
ORLANDO: Over to you, Fantasia.
FANTASIA: I’m with President Snow, who’s played by Jack Bauer’s dad, wearing what I can only describe as a white bushy beard. How would you describe it?
SNOW: A lack of imagination.
FANTASIA: You’re seriously worried that Katniss is going to inspire a revolution.
SNOW: No, I’m really worried people will forget the much better movies I made when I was younger.
FANTASIA: You share scenes with the Games Maker. What’s that like?
SNOW: Well, in any other movie franchise, I might have a Head of Secret Police or Armed Forces. But it is not for nothing that the HUNGER GAMES novels are described as ‘surprisingly successful’.
FANTASIA: The Games Maker talks about ‘moves and counter moves’. What does that mean to you?
SNOW: The requirement of a nearby toilet.
FANTASIA: President Snow. Thank you.
ORLANDO: I’m here with escort Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) wearing a fantastic orange butterfly number with the butterflies actually taking off from your head.
EFFIE: I had butterflies in my stomach doing this franchise. I mean I thought ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO would inspire sequels. Anyway, the costume designer put them on the outside.
ORLANDO: You have by far the most incredible outfits in this movie. Talk me through them.
EFFIE: This movie is about celebrities and the games being a distraction. Dresses like this one are a distraction from the fact that I don’t have anything interesting to say.
ORLANDO: You give Peeta something gold that he uses to hold pictures of Gale, Katniss’ mother and sister. And this is after police officers have invaded District 12 and burn a bunch of photographs and personal possessions. How is that possible?
EFFIE: Well, I actually didn’t read –
FANTASIA: I’m interrupting you with news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wrinkle.
ORLANDO: Wasn’t that JACK GOES BOATING?
FANTASIA: No, the 75th Hunger Games consists entirely of contestants who have won previous contests.
ORLANDO: But they’re supposed to be immune. Why am I not surprised?
FANTASIA: There is another novel, MOCKINGJAY, after this one. So once again, they have to go back into training as Katniss fires an inexhaustible supply of arrows and the film once more turns into a version of THE RUNNING MAN.
ORLANDO: We’ve seen it all before?
ORLANDO: Effie here was going to tell me about her impossibly long eyelashes and whether a franchise written by a woman that features Lenny Kravitz as a stylist, Cinna, is making some kind of statement?
EFFIE: I really wasn’t. 30 ROCK is over. I feel lost.
CINNA: I honestly thought I wasn’t going to get punished for the wedding dress that burns and turns into a bird outfit, but boy I was wrong about it.
FANTASIA: I haven’t had time to mention that Stanley Tucci should have been cast as Liberace instead of Michael Douglas. His performance suggests that.
ORLANDO: The cast are now all donning blue skin tight body suits, even the Goths who won their Hunger Games contest by being forgotten about by the screenwriters.
FANTASIA: That’s all we have time for. Have you heard about District 12?
ORLANDO: A movie by Neill Blomkamp?
Reviewed at Cineworld Chelsea, Screen 2, Sunday 1 December 2013, 13:30 performance