The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Movie

Catching Fire

The truth is, I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games franchise and the excitement is not wearing off any time soon either. I’ve read the books, second being my favorite of the series, and I’ve seen the first movie more than once. Therefore, it was pretty much given that I was going to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on its opening weekend and now, almost a week later, I think I’m still not able to contain my thoughts into a coherent sounding review but I’ll try to do my best. And in case you missed the POW popcorn rating, I freaking loved Catching Fire!

After the high critical praise for the first movie, and some confusion among the viewers who were maybe not as familiar with the books, the second movie tries to maintain its hype while making the story more opened for the wider public. I’m not an expert, since I’m familiar with the books, but I think Catching Fire has much more appeal for those who haven’t read about Katniss and her inner struggles. Then again, the second book was, in my mind, a step up from the first so I was fairly certain that the movie itself was going to be epic. Add Jennifer Lawrence and a new director to the mix and every fangirl of the series was on the edge of their seats during those two hours. On a downside, since I knew the twists and turns ahead, especially the whole arena situation, it kind of dragged for a little bit which is funny because I think the first movie had the same issue. But calling it an issue isn’t quite right because I think it’s subjective and I wouldn’t take my opinion too seriously.

But the whole movie had so much packed in itself that I was actually amazed how it all fitted in, the long Victory tour, the trainings, the interview, the arena – everything was there that I could think of, some segments shorter than others, yes, but they where still there. I’m sure if I re-read the book I come to a conclusion that some things were missing but in terms of the story, the plot and the whole love triangle, I think the screenwriters (also new additions) did a fine job. There was a little bit of Katniss/Peeta missing in the Victory tour, because as far as I remember they became close throughout that train trip because Katniss was struggling and Peeta was her support. But Catching Fire still had a lot of Peeta moments and since I’m Team Peeta, I enjoyed them a lot.

catching-fire1Now, Lawerence as Katniss is something I probably don’t have to discuss, she is an Oscar winner and her performance as Katniss is Oscar worthy. I’m not saying she will get an Oscar for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire but compared to all the other young adult series turned movie series, her leading performance is high above the rest and worth the metaphorical Oscar. The second movie also allowed Lawrence to have a wider range of emotions because I think as a character, Katniss evolves into a woman who is more opened to the idea of showing her emotions. Then there’s Josh Hutcherson as Peeta who isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but I like him. I can’t help to feel sorry for the guy, because as much as I’d like to be gravitated towards a tall, well built Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Hutcherson’s puppy-eyes and softness as Peeta just gets me. Anyway, Hutcherson was definitely stronger this time, so was Hemsworth but probably because he actually had some screen time, but I think that Hutcherson’s development was brought up from the character – Peeta went to the arena as a boy and returned as a man.

What I’m trying to say is, the characters from the first movie had definitely changed and it showed not only in the storyline but also in the acting and I must praise Lawrence and Hutcherson for that. I’m sure some of you will not agree but it doesn’t matter, I think they portray these book characters well and that applies to the rest of the cast as well. Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz did all a fine job and while looking at those names I can’t help to be amazed how wonderful the cast of The Hunger Games series is. But most of all, I want to point out that Stanley Tucci needs to get all the awards because this man is just golden. He has great supporting characters movie to movie, memorable roles even in bad movies such as Burlesque, and he has the ability to outshine the leading characters effortlessly (Devil Wears Prada). Please, somebody, give this man a damn Universe Award or something!

hunger-games-catching-fire-finnick-magsThat being said, Catching Fire also had few new characters that are worth the mention, Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. Now, I wasn’t really one of those people who started to question the casting when these two were announced as their characters and I’m not going to question the decision after seeing the movie. I do think Claflin’s shoulders don’t project as much hunk value as Finnick has in the books but his characteristics suited the role well. Malone was a surprise because I couldn’t really remember Johanna’s character from the books because everybody else stood out more but in the movie she made a bigger impact. The elevator scene was pretty much the highlight of everything. And finally, Philip Seymore Hoffman joined the cast as the game maker and well, I mean, he’s Philip Seymore Hoffman, what more can I say.

Something that made me proud to be a fan of the franchise were the visuals because that was another aspect that had improved a lot. Come to think of it, everything about Catching Fire was a little bit better and like I said, I think some of the credit should go to the second book because it was a very well crafted story which is even better on the screen. In terms of the visuals, the costumes and the arena were amazing. I like how the movie stayed true to the books and allowed us, the readers, to have the visual imagery of the costumes we had already read about – it was nostalgic and amazing. The arena on the other hand was a surprise, not that it was altered, no, I mean I think it was designed in a way that it looked even better than I imagined! It was beautiful, and the whole idea of it was already something I loved in the books, and it was something I was looking forward of seeing on the big screen – maybe even the thing I wanted to see the most. Eventually, it didn’t let me down and I don’t have anything bad to say about the arena, except all the killing and torture that happens there.

Though this review is already longer than usual, I’ll just continue ahead with some spoiler scenes but before that, I want to share my concerns about the last two moviesΒ  based on the third book. I did not like the third book. That is something that is a widely spread opinion because the whole thing was just wrong and lacked depth compared to the first two. That being said, I hope the writers and the director Francis Lawrence are able to elevate the book and create something different and better. That being said, here are some of my favorite scenes from Catching Fire so in case you haven’t seen the movie or read the books, keep away.

SCENES THAT STOOD OUT (SPOILERS)

As I exited the cinema, I had four scenes in my mind, playing over and over again because they had such raw emotion behind them and it was mostly because Jennifer Lawrence is freaking amazing! I’m gonna mention them in the order of appearance in the movie but in a way, they are also ranked as such because those emotion heavy scenes kept getting better and better as the movie progressed.

1) Rue’s speech

Katniss and Peeta start off their Victory Tour in District 11, the district where Rue lived and we all know that she was the sweet little girl who won Katniss’s heart in the first arena. Peeta starts off reading the speech he is supposed to give but he changes his mind and does something very Katniss-like – impulsive and emotional. That leads to Katniss getting all emotional and sharing her thoughts about Rue – and behold, the first emotional scene of the movie that will just get to you.

2) The stare-off

Katniss and Peeta are riding the carriage towards President Snow, Lawrence and Sutherland stare at each other the whole way and it is just brilliant. She never breaks, she just looks at him with determination and you can’t really tell if she is angry but you can definitely see that she is menacing as Katniss. She knows she is a threat and she isn’t afraid to show it to Snow.

3) Cinna gets attacked

In the books, Cinna is the only person from the Capitol Katniss trusts, he is her rock when it comes to the whole getting dressed up and performing to the public thing. Since, for me personally, the difficulty of the second book was letting go of that character, seeing Katniss struggle on screen was very hard. Lawrence is so raw when it comes to these types of emotions and it’s impossible not to get rattled up yourself while watching her struggle.

4) Peeta gets electrocuted

Now, my understanding of Katniss being fond of Peeta is due to her instinct to protect. She has protected and cared for her sister for years, and when in the first movie they were given the permission to win together, she starts taking care of Peeta. So I think, part of her likes Peeta because he needs her, and another part likes him because he is the only one who knows what she is going through emotionally. So loosing him is like loosing a support system, like loosing a part of you and man, was that a scene for the history books or what. If anybody had any doubt of Lawrence, then just watch that scene and you’d be proven wrong. As a side note, I think Claflin’s reaction as Finnick was just perfect in that scene as well.

5) Katniss and the jabberjays

The opposite to the last scene is the one where Peeta is suffering because of Katniss and I must confess, that was the moment where I truly believed that Hutcherson can act. Consistent as Peeta (he has given him some specific facial expressions it seems) and yet, so powerful at the same time. Then again, Katniss steals the moment by giving the most cut drenching scream one could imagine – and while in the audience I kept thinking my god,Β  can Lawrence get any better?

6) Final scene

Answer to the last question is YES! When Gale informs Katniss that there’s no District 12 anymore, there is just the perfect scene to end Catching Fire and prove that this movie is currently the best young adult franchise out there. We have Jennifer Lawrence on the screen, just her face, she is crying at first, and then.. all of a sudden, complete 180 and her eyes read anger, determination, revenge! I mean, thinking back to that, chills, I mean, just chills and to end a movie with that high is just pure heroin to my freaking veins right now. Therefore, my final thought about Catching Fire is –

Lawrence, you are amazing!

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PS: I liked The Hunger Games: Catching Fire so much that I’m going to see it for the second time tonight.

I know this post became extremely long, so I applaud you for making it to the end but now, let me know what you thought about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in the comments.

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  • Reply
    jjames36
    November 28, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Great review. I too am a big fan of the series (though I think the first book easily the best), and I too think this is a spectacular adaptation. It is better than the first move and might equal the second novel.

    In fact, of the 115 ish 2013 movies I’ve seen, Catching Fire is my sixth favorite. That’s probably saying something. πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      I think it is somewhere in my Top 3 but I have seen less than 100 and I’ve seen some bad movies this year because I’m working and therefore I need some crappy movies sometimes.

      • Reply
        jjames36
        November 28, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        Oh. I’ve seen some really crappy ones, too. Getaway. Yuck! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    ZoΓ«
    November 28, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Ahhhhh! I am so glad that you loved this! I am hoping to go tomorrow or Saturday, I am so excited for it! Excellent and incredibly coherent write up! πŸ˜›

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      I’m watching it again today.. was writing the review and felt like watching it again.

      • Reply
        ZoΓ«
        November 28, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        Oooooh sounds nice such a good idea! I hope you enjoy it as much the second time around as you did the first!

  • Reply
    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop
    November 28, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Can’t wait to see this, hoping to see it very soon! Great review!

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    November 28, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Spot-on! Caught this yesterday in IMAX, and it was well worth the ticket. Fine review.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      It was worth a second watch as well, just sayin’! πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    elina
    November 28, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I saw it twice too, and well, obviously, loved it. πŸ˜‰ The jabberjay scene was incredibly powerful, I totally agree.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      This is the first movie I saw twice.. I am quite proud of myself. πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    CMrok93
    November 28, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Good review Ray. While the first still felt a bit better to me, this one definitely keeps everything moving and as tense as possible.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      I think this adds a whole new dimension for the characters and the fact that I enjoyed the second book more maybe influences my opinion about the movie but it’s all subjective. Both are still very good though!

  • Reply
    Katy
    November 28, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    I was just about to post my review too, but I’m having difficulty with it. I thought the movie was a bit underwhelming!! πŸ™ Glad you liked it though Mettel and great review!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Have you read the books? I feel like my excitement is also created through the books.. I don’t know. Hopefully you will finish your review soon, I’d be happy to read it.

      • Reply
        Katy
        November 29, 2013 at 11:13 PM

        Oh yeah, I breezed through the books. Catching Fire was my favorite of the series, so I’m definitely going to take my time and try to see it again if I can to see if my first impression changes. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    ninvoid99
    November 28, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Fantastic review. I haven’t read the books though I would rather separate the books from the films as they’re different mediums. I know everyone is on either Team Katinss, Team Peeta, or Team Gale. I’m on Team Johanna!!!!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      I actually don’t want to separate different mediums.. I think books add a lot of dimension and value to the movies but maybe it’s just me. Go team Johanna then. πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Anna (Film Grimoire)
    November 29, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Excellent review! I felt the same way about the ending of the film. Absolutely chilling. Imagine how amazing Lawrence will be in the next one!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 29, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      I hope she is amazing and I hope the writers will do something with the plot because I didn’t really like the book… I hope.

      • Reply
        Anna (Film Grimoire)
        November 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        I didn’t love the third book either! I wonder how they’re going to go with turning the content into two films. Luckily the director is staying on, because the direction in Catching Fire was much better than the first film.

        • Reply
          mettelray
          November 29, 2013 at 11:03 AM

          Indeed, but then again, the damn plot is a bit better in the second movie. πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Brittani Burnham
    November 29, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    Great review! I loved this one as well. I was psyched when I heard Malone was cat as Joanna, because she’s one of my favorites. She’s just so bitchy! That finale scene with Katniss – I really hope they keep that mindset for her in Mockingjay. I thought she got uncharacteristically mopey in the final book, and I’d rather see her all fire.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 29, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      Thanks!
      I think the last book needs some alterations when going from book pages to screen and I hope the writers get the same idea.. A lot of the fans also dislike the third book and like it the least out of the three so I’m hoping the two movies don’t fall into the hole with the plot.

  • Reply
    davecrewe
    November 29, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Good review – wasn’t too long at all, I think you had something substantial to discuss for the whole piece and raised some good points. Definitely a film that warrants a spoiler section to discuss in full!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      November 30, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      Indeed.. I think I’ll opt to that spoiler section again and again with great movies like this.

  • Reply
    Marvell
    November 29, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Take the best of The Cyber Friday.

  • Reply
    Marvell
    November 29, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    http://hugediscount.wordpress.com

  • Reply
    Jess
    December 2, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    I have to say – your review made me want to rewatch Catching Fire SO BAD. That has to be a compliment! I liked the first film a lot but this surpassed it in every way possible. Every aspect stepped its game up from acting to directing to writing to casting to special effects and more.

    I really do like Josh Hutcherson as Peeta too. He really captures who I pictured from the book. Not tall, dark, & handsome like Gale, but very cute, emotional, & kind hearted. Looking at that GIF of him screaming at Katniss kind of gave me chills. I am so excited to see Hutcherson perform everything that Peeta goes through in the third book.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      December 2, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Well writing it made me want to watch it again and I did, so I guess it does have some magical powers this one. πŸ˜€

      Indeed, and with everybody being team Gale I feel like people are looking at the looks not the inside of a person that matters. Gale is selfish, he in the movies and in the books is angry at Katniss for faking her relationship while Peeta is well aware of Katniss liking Gale and even hands her a locket with Gale being in the centre of it… Peeta clearly has her interests in mind while Gale just wants her for himself.. I don’t know if this makes sense but.. it’s some deep stuff that comes to surface with The Hunger Games series if you really start to think about it.

  • Reply
    Tim The Film Guy
    December 2, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Good Review πŸ˜€

    It was a great film, really liked it a lot. Thought it was a fantastic improvement over the first, and I cannot wait for the next one, especially after that ending πŸ˜€

    • Reply
      mettelray
      December 3, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      I think the first one was a nice beginning still, it fitted the characters and it was more subdued because it was.. in the books as well. Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply
    vinnieh
    December 3, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Excellent review, I really enjoyed the film.

  • Reply
    acharacterpolygamist
    December 3, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Great review! I loved that you highlighted the four most powerful scenes. Just looking at your gif gives me chills–their stare down was epic. After seeing the movie again, I couldn’t wait for this scene, and noticed this time around, they were the only tributes that didn’t salute Snow and the Capitol. Awesome movie!

    • Reply
      vinnieh
      December 3, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      I agree that part with the jabberjays is chilling.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      December 4, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Thanks, there are 6 but in the beginning I had only 4 so I left in that stumble of words there.. happens when you don’t re-read things. But indeed, those scenes were even better with a re-watch!

  • Reply
    Chris
    December 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Good review. I thought the first Hunger Games film was better than the book (despite missing out a few key details) so I decided to go into the second film without reading the second book.

    I loved this film. I love where it took the character, I love how dark it gets and I love the future that it has set up. Like you say, Jennifer Lawrence is just amazing as Katniss.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      December 6, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      Lawrence brings the book character to life more than any other teen actress has with previous young adult adaptions.. I love her!

  • Reply
    Courtney Young
    December 6, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Great review, girl! It seems we share very similar views with this one! And I agree with all your top scene picks. That whole sequence with the speech to Rue’s family was really heartbreaking…you really see how trapped Katniss and Peeta are under the regulation of Snow.

    And Jena Malone as Johanna Mason! I loved her character!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      December 6, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      I know! I can’t really fault the movie on anything.

  • Reply
    Lights Camera Reaction
    December 19, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Nice review! Tucci is always great. So nice to see Jenna in films again. I always forget she was in Stepmom haha. She definitely stole the film for me, I loved her.
    Film was good, my favourite book out of the three.

  • Reply
    Lights Camera Reaction
    December 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    PS – Have you seen The Counselor yet?

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