Okay...Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games installment in film form. It has been a while since I read this book. I wrote a review for it in April 2012!
That is the first thing I want to talk about. Going into this film, I thought it would all come flooding back to me but the truth is, I forgot a lot of plot events. This could be because Catching Fire is to the Hunger Games book series as Order of the Phoenix is to the Harry Potter book series. It introduces a whole load of new characters and a whole new complex story that, in my opinion, is not easy to get in just one read. It has to be read more than once.
Let's start with the things I loved about the film. First - Jennifer-freaking-Lawrence! I love that girl way too much! When she was first announced as the actress to play Katniss, I had never heard of her and didn't know what to think of her. When I saw the first movie, I found her to be refreshing because I had never seen an actress quite like her. Her acting style was really unique. Then I saw her in Silver Linings Playbook, watched a bit of interviews she had done that not only are genuine but funny (including the hilarious Academy Awards question and answer speech) and finally began to understand why everyone loves this girl. She is freaking awesome! Which brings me to my point that she did a perfect job at portraying Katniss Everdeen. To make her portrayal possible though, the film needed some great writers and a great director to convey the psychological effects the Hunger Games have had on Katniss. These scenes which focused on Katniss's psychological well-being were well written, well shot, and well acted. My favorite was in the very beginning when Katniss is sitting calmly by the water with her bow and suddenly she hears a sound and instantly reacts as if she is still in the games but before she releases her bow, she realizes it is just Gale coming up from behind and she is no longer in danger. Besides Jennifer Lawrence, the other actors did a spectacular job as well.
The other scenes I loved in the movie outside of a theme were when Katniss's wedding dress transformed into the mockingjay on stage and when Katniss went to enter the games and Cinna was taken away.
Now for the things I thought were not so great. First - and this is no fault to the movie as much as it
is the book - I still believe, as I said in my original book review, that the end of the story is a cop-out. The ending is too easy. Now for the movie itself I found a few faults but two stand outs that I want to talk about. The first was the elevator scene where Katniss and Peeta meet Johanna. Johanna steps on the elevator, complains about her outfit and then begins to strip out of it until she is completely naked. Was that in the book? I don't think so. It just felt awkward to me. Second - was it just me or did I notice an inconsistency when it came to the clock events? When Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick run away from the poisoned fog, they tumble down a hill and as the fog approaches them it hits an invisible force field wall. Later in the film Katniss and Finnick run into the section of the clock where there are jabberjays and as they try to escape, they hit the force field and they can't get out until the hour is up. How come they couldn't get out of their section with the jabberjays but they could get out of the section with the poison? Just an observation I have made.
There are also two things missing from the film that I had looked forward to seeing. One scene I missed was the scene where Katniss has to jump the electric fence. The electric fence in District 12 is usually never on but when the Capitol learns of Katniss and Gale's trips into the forest, they turn the fence on suddenly while Katniss is in there and she must jump over it to get back home. The other big thing missing is that we don't get to see Haymitch in his Hunger Games. I would have liked to see that but I know they are splitting the last book into two films so they will probably bring it up then.
I see that many people more prefer this movie to the first. I think everyone involved did a great job and I can agree that in terms of little details, this movie did a better job but I still prefer the first one. Many people disliked the shaking camera movement but I disagree. I liked that because it felt much more realistic and scary - like if you were the one running near Katniss in the Hunger Games. I also like the first book better than the sequel so that is another reason I prefer the first film. Overall, it was a great experience watching it and I know I will be watching it time and time again but I do not feel this film is necessarily better than the first. I believe they are equally good and work well together though the first movie is my personal favorite.
Although much of this blog is criticizing this film, check out this blog post written by another person who feels that Catching Fire fixed everything that the previous film did wrong. I agree with most of the blog even though some of it clashes with my view of this film. Check it out HERE!