I tend to talk in hyperboles a lot. I’ll get a headache and lay in bed proclaiming that I’m dying. I’ll start watching a new TV show and it will immediately become the best TV show I’ve ever seen. The second the temperature dips below 50 degrees? “This is the coldest I’ve ever been in my life!” But I am not exaggerating when I say that The Hunger Games:Catching Fire was one of the best book to movie adaptations I have ever seen. EVER!
If you read the books and enjoyed them, then I don’t see how there is any way you could dislike the movie. It was exceptional. It’s a perfect example of why directors and movie makers should never mess with the source material. Your job is to bring the book to life! The reason the book is so popular is because people fell in love with the story and the characters. There is no need for you to change it up.
Director Francis Lawrence managed to take all the things that made the book great and turn them into a fantastic film. In some cases, he made them even better. I could go on and on about every single thing Lawrence got right, down to the very detail, but I won’t bore you. However, I will pinpoint on some of the key things that were done right.
The tension building between the districts and the Capitol. If you didn’t cry (or don’t cry for those of you who have not seen the film yet) when Katniss and Peeta visit District 11 during their Victory Tour, then I’m judging you.We briefly see a spark of a rebellion after 12-year-old Rue is killed in the first film. This really start to intensify during the second film. Throughout the whole film there is a sense that things are ready to explode. Everyone outside of the Capitol is unhappy and President Snow is slowly losing control of his districts.
The struggle victors are faced with after winning the games. One of the main themes of Collins’ novels is the impact of war and the effect on those who fight. It’s understandable that someone who goes through the games and comes out alive will have to deal with major psychological consequences. This is briefly touched upon in the first movie with Haymitch’s addiction to alcohol. It is further explored in the second film. Katniss is dealing with hallucinations of those she killed in the games and nightmares. She is having a difficult time dealing with the aftermath and adjusting to regular life. In Catching Fire we are also introduced to victors of past games that are dealing with their own psychological problems. They may have all won the games but it comes with a huge price.
The incredible casting. I’m in the crowded “Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong” bandwagon. It doesn’t surprise me at all that her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen is so spot on. She was great in The Hunger Games and even better in Catching Fire. The rest of the returning cast did incredible, with a special emphasis on Elizabeth Banks. She brings a whole new depth to Effie Trinket – a character who in less capable hands could have easily been portrayed as vapid and shallow. Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason are the two biggest newcomers to the franchise and they lived up to the hype. Finnick and Johanna quickly became my favorite characters in the books and I was initially disappointed with the casting choices made. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Sam Claflin completely won me over with his portrayal of Finnick. I cannot wait to see what he does in the next two installments. But my favorite by far was Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. I don’t know many people who came out of the theater not proclaiming Johanna as their new favorite character.
The intense cliffhanger. This is what I thought when the second movie ended: “Haha, now all those people who didn’t read the books know the agony all us readers felt when we first finished the second book.” I’m not going to give any spoilers away, but all of you who have read the book know exactly what I’m talking about. Just like the second book, the second movie in The Hunger Games franchise ends with a HUGE cliffhanger. It may actually be the thing that convinces all the nonreaders to finally go out and read the books just so they don’t have to wait until next year (when the next film will be released) to find out what happens.
The dynamics of Katniss’ relationships with both Gale and Peeta. This is one aspect where I actually feel the movie did a better job than the book. There were times while reading The Hunger Games trilogy that I felt the love triangle was addressed too much. There were so many more important things going on that I felt the love aspect was unnecessary. While I understand that the movies couldn’t drop them altogether (fangirls everywhere would riot), I feel like it was handled a lot better in the movie. It came across as more natural that Katniss was being torn between her childhood friend (the one who represents everything her life was before) and her fellow victor (the only other person who could truly relate and understand what she’s been through).
The imagery. I love when a movie is made and the setting looks exactly as it did in my head. Credit for that goes to the author for describing their setting accurately and then the director for being able to bring the words to life. Bravo to Francis Lawrence! The arena looked exactly as I imagined it while I was reading the book.