There are three things I thought once the screen cut to black for the last time of the movie.
- Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress.
- Wow. Just Wow.
- Where the heck can I get Katniss’ sweater from the beginning of the movie?
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an intense, emotional, well-directed movie with absolutely fantastic acting from Jennifer Lawrence. The last two minutes – hell the last 30 seconds – of the movie will leave you breathless.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Haralson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone, Jeffery Wright, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Premise: Despite their rocky relationship, after winning The 74th Hunger Games Katniss and Peeta are forced to fake their romance for the cameras on the Victory Tour. Though the Capitol is convinced of their love, the other districts see what she did as an act of rebellion. Thus Snow issues her an ultimatum: convince everyone what she did was for her undying love for Peeta, or her and everyone she loves will die. Unfortunately her presence in the districts only provides fuel for the fire beginning to burn. In order to put a stop to the uprisings, Snow decides the 75th Hunger Games will be better than ever, putting Katniss and previous “winners” back in the arena.
I have a lot of thoughts on Catching Fire, as I’m sure you did, so let me just break it down. This will be long, but you know you love it.
The repercussions of the first movie weight on Katniss’ shoulders. Her PTSD is in full force and she must deal with the effect the games had on her family and of course her relationship with her best friend, Gale who is jealous of Peeta. And then, of course, there’s Peeta who has to deal with the fact the girl he thought loved him as much as he loved her, did it all for show. On top of that, Snow comes to Katniss revealing if she doesn’t show the world just how in love she is with Peeta, no matter her feelings, everyone she loves will be executed. Girl’s. Got. PROB-LEMS. Naturally, there were changes (I still wish they included the part about the fence in the movie), but I think most of them worked for the better. The writers and Francis Lawrence pulled details from certain characters that originally weren’t made apparent until book three, and frankly that’s genius.**Spoiler alert** For example Snow’s Granddaughter, a girl who was just mentioned briefly in passing at the end of book three, actually gets a role in order to exactly how much effect Katniss is having on the rest of the world. Brilliant and frankly, chilling. (No wonder Snow is called Snow. Brrrr.)
The Love Triangle:
I’ve never been a fan of YA love triangles (or love triangles in general), but a least in this series it wasn’t at the forefront. It was something that just was (i/e Harry falling for Ginny, not important but relevant to the situation. Plus, Hermonie and Ron forever!) Unfortunately in the first movie, we were told how Katniss felt about Peeta and Gale, such that her relationships with them felt forced upon us. Plus Jennifer Lawrence’s chemistry with Liam Hemsworth was more palpable than it was with Josh Hutcherson. But in Catching Fire the relationship between Katniss and Peeta felt more organic. This time around they had time to get to know each other better and naturally became friends with the hint of something more. This brings me to another point, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. I never really believed he was a good fit as Peeta and he had absolutely zero chemistry with Lawrence, however with this movie, my mind was changed. I love the fact that they made Peeta more competent and less of a, well let’s face it, weakling. But Josh Hutcherson wore Peeta well. He was finally someone we believed Katniss could fall for. And let me just say Hutcherson is growing into one good looking man. He has never looked as good as he does in this movie.
The Characters and the Actors:
Francis Lawrence really upped the game with character development, something the first movie lacked. With the first movie, Katniss alone, only relying on herself, but this time around Katniss would never be alone again. She needed her friends and allies in order to survive Snow’s plans for her. Lawrence took these characters and stretched them beyond what we ever knew about them. For example Effie, a well-meaning woman oblivious to that fact that she basically prepares people for slaughter, pretty much broke my heart twice, once during the reaping and once while saying goodbye. While she might not completely grasp what is going on, she knows it’s not good. Elizabeth Banks adds layers of depth and complication into a character we so love but honestly couldn’t really understand. She is the perfect Effie. Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee have deliciously evil and mesmerizing discussions, Jeffery Wright and Amanda Plummer as Betee and Wiress, tributes from District 3, bring a light-hearted wackiness to the fold, Lynn Cohen will break your heart as Mags, and Finnick, devishly-handsome, trident-wielding, Peeta-saving Finnick is perfectly played by the, oh so sweet Sam Claflin. Finnick has always been my favorite character of the series, well, behind Peeta, and Claflin does him justice. The only character miscast is Johanna. Though Jena Malone does a good job at showing off her rage, the character needed someone with a bit more spice. (*cough* Naya Riveria *cough*)
This movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s movie. And just when you’ve given her that award, Oscar himself, and you think you’ve seen all you can see from her with you tube video after you tube video, JLaw just pushes it. Pushes it to the limits of greatness, then she pushes it over taking you with her. Every now and then in the movie I caught myself thinking, “Damn, she’s so good!” She just perfectly embodies Katniss to a T and her performance does not disappoint. Then came one of the moments I really wanted to see (listed here) nearing the end of the movie and Lawrence delivered. It was gritty, it was tragic, it was emotional to the point of thinking how the hell can she top this? Then the last 30 seconds happen. Yeah, it’s that good. Once it was all over I leaned over to my friend and said, “She is a fantastic actress!” (My friend, by the way, had his fists in balled up at his face, speechless.)
Basically The Hunger Games: Catching Fire blew the first movie out of the water, the characters were better, the story was better, everything was just better. It’s a movie worth seeing even if you haven’t read the books. It’s intense with a lot of action, pressure, laughter, tears, cute boys, naked girls, pretty clothes, and one hell of a cliffhanger. Bring on the Mockingjay.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Warning SPOILERS Below!
- I am obsessed with the clothes in this movie. I’ll say it again, that opening outfit of Katniss’? I WANT that sweater! (see above) All the cast look super chic.
- Josh Hutcherson looked so handsome. Some of his outfits made him look real good. Way better than the first movie.
- I am obsessed with Effie’s eye lashes in the butterfly outfit.
- I saw the movie in IMAX and when Katniss entered the arena the screen opened up so everything in the arena is top to bottom. It’s really amazing. The was a shot where Katniss was at bottom of a hill hiding in the foreground and Finnick is on top of the hill looking for her. It was a goregous shot. And it doesn’t have the same effect on regular screens as it does IMAX.
- That dress on Jennifer on the carts was pretty cool. It made her look SO skinny. Like really skinny.
- How Peeta and Katniss was introduced to Johanna was just perfect. (Interesting tidbit about that…)
- I wish the writers added a bit more about Katniss’ supposed “pregnancy” into the script. Would it be too much for a “You’ll make a great mother, Katniss,” like in the book?
- Once we get to the arena I forgot about looking for things the movie left out or changed and got caught up in the non-stop action.
- I got emotional a lot during the movie 1) When Effie called Katniss’ name at the reaping, 2) When Effie said goodbye to Katniss, 3) When Peeta hit the force field, 4) the birds – the look on Peeta’s face killed me, 5) that ending!
- That scene with the birds was another fine example of the top notch performance from Sam Claflin and Jennifer Lawrence.
- I did miss more of Stanley Tucci and his little games “recaps.” A lot of the reality show aspect of the story fell by the wayside.
- Once the credits rolled after all that intensity, the song and they way they appeared on screen totally felt like an indie movie. Or is that just me?