After about a month of waiting while it seemed like the whole world went to see it, I have finally watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (thanks Aimee J)! The book is my favorite out of the trilogy so I was thrilled to watch the film. I even got so excited as to re-read the book before seeing it, which definitely helped my understanding and compare/contrast of the film. Joyously, the movie did the book deserved justice!
Sequel to the 2012 film The Hunger Games and adaptation of the second installment in The Hunger Games trilogy , Catching Fire follows up with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, which has not only sparked a rebellion in the Districts of Panem but also made them both targets of the Capitol.
I loved this movie. period. It stayed so close to the book and took out just the right scenes. There were some added scenes (ex. Snow’s granddaughter) and while they may not have been that necessary, the scenes actually assisted the movie in a way of showing the different perspectives of Panem. I salute director Francis Lawrence! For one thing though, there really is no point in comparing it to the first film by Gary Ross because the two had totally different budgets. The first film had a budget of $78 million, while Catching Fire had $130 million and it shows. The special effects and the great costumes complement the film well.
The cast was great. I personally am not a fan of Katniss’ character but as always Jennifer Lawrence did a great job. Even in the beginning when they started off right away with showing her PTSD (smart move btw), Lawrence portrayed her distress perfectly. I especially love how the movie downplayed the big love triangle that is ever so present in the books because it’s so unimportant compared to the other major plots in the film. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) did a good job of portraying their respective character developments too. However, I think the supporting cast needs the most applause. Elizabeth Banks, as always, was charming and bubbly as Effie Trinkett, Wood Harrelson provided bits of humor as he perfectly portrayed Haymitch, and Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caesar Flickerman who provided the much-needed comic relief at times. Newcomers Sam Clafin (Finnick Odair), Lynn Cohen (Mags), Jena Malone (Johanna) Amanda Plummer (Wiress), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) all really stole the show, especially Malone. Clafin was good in depicting Finnick’s ambiguous personality, and Cohen along with Plummer hardly spoke any lines but still had the audience in the palm of their hands. Wright was not exactly what I pictured as Beetee when reading the book but I still enjoyed his performance. Jena Malone was definitely my favorite new cast member though because she WAS Johanna, no doubt about it. The ferocity, sass, confidence, all there.
Not sure if I actually have too much to criticize. The film is long (146 minutes) but you don’t feel it. If anything, I was not a huge fan of the ending because I thought it could have ended perhaps a few seconds/lines earlier. Other than that, and as far as book adaptations go, Catching Fire was visually and emotionally amazing.
ALL IN ALL: With great performances and effects, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a winner for fans of the book and a must see for 2013.
Rated PG-13, 146 minutes