Movie Title: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Date Released: November 22nd, 2013
Date Seen: 8 pm premiere, November 21st, 2013
Seen with: Anna
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
Catching Fire starts off a few months after Hunger Games left off, with Katniss and Peeta now about to embark on the Victors Tour across Panem. While in the districts they see that since the 74th Annual Hunger Games things in the districts have begun to get tense, leading up to rebellion in some. President Snow starts to think of a way to stop this problem and thinks Katniss is personally responsible. What is in store for Katniss? Well you’ll have to read the book or see this movie to find out.
The directing and acting are both very well done. I’ve been a fan of the director, Francis Lawrence, since I saw Constantine for the first time. I love that movie, the style of it, how it is shot, and how it can take ugly horrible scenes and make them somewhat beautiful. He does that very well in this movie as well. This movie doesn’t do that odd, overly shaky camera movement that the first Hunger Games seemed to have, which made it much easier to watch, but was also just very well done. The acting was great, of course we know Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is going to be great. Josh Hutcherson did well. I finally liked Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth, probably just because we got to see more of him. Elizabeth Banks was great in Hunger Games as Effie, but she is outstanding as Effie in this movie. We get to see the real feelings Effie has towards Peeta and Katniss, while always still being herself, she shows appreciation and thanks in her own way. Banks does a great job. The other standouts were the new additions to the movie – specifically, Sam Claflin as Finnick and Jena Malone as Johanna. I thought Sam Claflin was the perfect Finnick. The look was perfect, his acting outstanding, and he’s in a number of very emotional scenes (one you will probably only get if you’ve read the book) and they made me want to cry. One of them I did. Not ashamed at all. I was unsure about Jena Malone at first, but dang did she prove me wrong. She was a great Johanna. Book adaptations always have a hard time pleasing everyone with the casting choices, but I thought they did a great job. The only character I had an issue with the casting was Mags (Lynn Cohen) because I didn’t think she was old or frail enough. But that’s just a little complaint in an otherwise awesome movie.
The movie is true to the book – it follows it actually very well. Some things that were left out that I liked in the book (like the re-electrifying of the fence, for example), but were totally fine to be left out. They got all the very important stuff and still hid little Easter Eggs for book fans to find – which movie watchers, who haven’t read the books, will enjoy on subsequent viewings of the movie (a few they’ll even have to wait until Mockingjay to fully understand). Some of the best moments in the film for me were involving these little details, like the scene I mentioned above with Finnick, or the fact that Chaff does in fact have just one hand. I was very pleased. I was also excited to see a lot of the things I imagined come to life so perfectly – like the Quarter Quell arena. It was almost exactly how I imagined it (not that it was that complicated, ha). Another thing was the Mockingjay dress Cinna makes – I couldn’t wait to see it and it was great.
All in all I’m very pleased with the movie. I will definitely be seeing it again. It was very tense at times, either with drama or action, and was never boring. Definitely go see this if you’re a fan of the book, or liked the first movie, or just think the premise is a cool idea – because you will be pleased.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review/Synopsis
The scene that made me want to cry is when the tributes are having their conversation with Caeser. Finnick looks straight into the camera and sends an emotional message to “someone he loves” – which you know is Annie if you’ve read the books. The scene when Mags dies was another one that made me want to cry. I knew it was coming, but still, it was just sad to watch. That whole scene was just so intense. They made the poison look so disgusting.
I did love the arena – especially the cornucopia spinning. I liked that we got to see what was going on in the game room, with Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and see that he basically started the spinning to not only throw them off their game – but started it a time when Katniss was in danger, and then stopped the spinning again at a time she was in danger, so that he was also helping her stay alive. That is one thing I love about the movies – is seeing the other side of the games, not just what is going on with Katniss.
Much stronger than the first movie, more emotional, perfect casting in many cases, true (enough) to the book, and action/tension packed. Definitely go see it, fan of the book or just fan of the series.