The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12. On the day Katniss and Peeta are to start a victory tour of the country, she is visited by President Snow, who explains that when she defied the Capitol by breaking the rules so that she and Peeta both survived the last Hunger Games, she inspired rebellions in districts and now must continue to pretend to be in love with Peeta or her family will be killed along with Gale and Peeta’s families to maintain the illusion that her actions were out of love, not to incite an uprising.

The first stop of the tour is in District 11, home of Katniss’ friend Rue, the 12-year-old who competed in the 74th Hunger Games. Peeta offers to read the speech from a script Effie provides them, but throws it away and voices his thoughts instead. As they leave, a sorrowful Katniss delivers an inspiring speech that causes a man to whistle the tune Katniss used during the 74th Hunger Games to inform Rue she was safe, and provides the three-finger salute of District 12. Everyone follows the man until Peacekeepers shoot him dead, causing Katniss to scream in panic. Fearing for their safety, Haymitch tells Katniss and Peeta they have become a political target. The two youths proceed to visit the other districts. To solve disputes between Katniss and Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss in public.

When they return to District 12, they find Gale has been punished and is being publicly whipped because he defended an old woman when the Commander and his troops were destroying the Black Market. Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch try to save Gale. Snow, watching them, reads out that the 75th Hunger Games will be the Quarter Quell, an event taking place every 25 years in which a new rule is added to the game. The new rule for this Third Quarter Quell states that contestants will be reaped from the existing pool of victors. Katniss is devoted to allowing Peeta to become the champion of the Quarter Quell and makes a deal with Haymitch that whatever he does he must make sure Peeta is safe and will win. Haymitch’s name is drawn at the reaping, but Peeta immediately volunteers and Haymitch has no power to stop him from joining.

During the individual training session, Peeta leaves a painting of Rue on the floor of the Training Center. Mad, Katniss hangs one of the Training Center’s dummies, leaving the words Seneca Crane (former Head Gamemaker) on it.

As the games almost start, with Katniss in the tube to the arena, Peacekeepers beats Katniss’ stylist until he is knocked out because he changed Katniss’ dress for interviews, to turn into a Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion. Katniss goes up her glass tube as the games commence.

The games are set around a saltwater lake, during which Katniss becomes an ally of Mags and Finnick Odair, both from District 4. Mags sacrifices herself when they are attacked by fog of painful poisonous gas that causes their skin to blister, allowing Finnick, Katniss and Peeta to escape. The trio rests in the middle of the forest where they are attacked by mandrills. During the attack, the woman from District 6, a camouflage expert and drug addict, sacrifices her life for Peeta. After they escape the mandrills and rest at the beach, they are met by Wiress and Beetee from District 3, who are extremely smart, and Johanna from District 7, who is cunning and violent. Wiress soon learns the saltwater lake is arranged like a clock and that every hour another attack will come—the first being the fog, the second being the mandrills. At midnight and noon, lightning strikes a very large tree. After Wiress dies, Beetee suggests a plan that requires them to direct the electricity from the lightning to the lake to electrocute the remaining two tributes from District 2. When the wire snaps, Katniss attaches the remaining wire to an arrow and shoots it at the force field to destroy the arena, causing her to black out.

She awakens in an aircraft with an unconscious Beetee. Entering the cockpit, she finds Haymitch, Finnick and Plutarch, the gamemaker, who is actually their ally and a rebel against Snow. Learning Johanna and Peeta were taken away by the Capitol, she attempts to attack Haymitch for not fulfilling his promise, but Plutarch sedates her before she can do so. She awakens days later with Gale by her side and learns her family is safe but District 12 has been destroyed, and that she is on her way to District 13.

REVIEW:

It seems like forever since The Hunger Games was in theaters, and many people have been counting down the days for the sage to continue. In the time since the first film, I actually took the time to read the books. Actually, I just read and finished them a few weeks ago, so they are quite fresh on my mind, which could be a good or bad thing for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

What is this about?

After her triumph in the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen begins a new life and confronts more danger in this sequel to the postapocalyptic fable. As Katniss travels through the districts on a “Victor’s Tour,” a rebellion gathers steam around her.

What did I like?

Emotion. Very early on, the victory tour makes a stop in District 11, home of Rue and Thresh, who were very instrumental in Katniss’ win in the last games. Once Katniss takes the mike and starts to talk about Rue, all the feelings about how she was killed so quickly and needlessly came rushing in. Even a cold-hearted bastard like myself felt a twinge in the back of my throat once the people in the district started whistling those notes and holding up the fingers. In the back of my mind though, I have to wonder, are we sure Katniss is the one everyone is getting behind, or is it Rue’s memory? Hmm…

Arena. When I was reading this book, the thing that I was most looking forward to was how they were going to be translated the arena to the big screen. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised in how they brought all the dangers to life, even if some things were cut out, and also spend much more time in the arena than in the last film. There is a reason these films are not named after the Capitol or one of the districts. I’m not sure which of the dangers I liked the most, but I think it may very well be the killer monkeys, with the poison smoke a close second.

New stuff. The new characters introduced in the film seamlessly fit in just as well as the ones that return, most notably Sam Claflin’s Finnick Odair. Personally, I think we could have gotten more development into his arrogant side, like the book, but the same can be said for just about any and all of the characters. An expanded role for Elizabeth Banks’ Effie (and her costumes) and Donald Sutherland helped to add to the newness of the film, as they just had a handful of lines in the first film, especially Sutherland.

What didn’t I like?

Connection. Earlier, I mentioned the connection we all felt to Rue in the last film, and how that connection is still here in the second. That same connection cannot be said for a couple of characters that don’t make it through the film. First, there in Mags, a tribute from Finnic’s district who is the only thing that he cares for more than himself. Also, there is Cinna, whom we briefly got to know in the first film, but should play a larger role here. Both of their deaths are parts that nearly bring the book to a screeching halt, but in the film they don’t have that same weight, especially Cinna’s. His just seem to be the beating of another designer, nothing special.

Get in where you fit in. This was actually brought up by someone else, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch is out of place. No, I’m not talking about him being cast as Plutarch. He seems to do job as far as I can tell. However, in the Capitol, everyone is dressed in extreme designer garb. That is, except Plutarch Havensebee, which seems to have just walked out of Salvation Army. The guy just doesn’t fit in with all the over the top outfits surrounding him.

Difference. I could sit here all day and list the number of changes that were made from the book to the big screen, but we’d be here all day and night discussing them. The reason the changes were made were to keep this film relatively short, well, under 3 hrs. Having said that, the parts they cut out leave the general audience wondering about some thing, such as the aforementioned emotional attachment to some of the characters. Whoever wrote this script could have done a better job of finding some level of continuity. As it is, with everything that was taken out, there is a bit of a random episodic feel to it that doesn’t quite work for me.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire obviously learned some things from its predecessor’s mistakes, such as no shaky cam, a bigger budget, etc. I still say Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” should be used somewhere in the soundtrack, but that’s just me. On a side not, I have to mention that when/if we ever get an Aquaman movie, or if they decide to feature him on Arrow, they need to look no further than Sam Claflin. In more ways that you think, Finnick is a version of Aquaman, but I digress. I had a great time with this film, despite my issues with it. I’ll gladly go see this again, and probably will. Now, we start the countdown for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I.  While you’re waiting, go out and see this a time or two.

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

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6 Responses to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] The Hunger Games: Catching Fire […]

  3. […] before I see one. I really am wondering if anyone can make a decent spoof anymore. After watching The Hunger Games: Catching Fire again last night, I hope I don’t come off as bitter and jaded in this […]

  4. […] it me, or does it seem like forever and a day between The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I? Maybe I’m thinking that since it has been so long […]

  5. […] creatures fits in that category, I’d say. I do see some similarities to the arena in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, at least as far as the shifting is concerned, but it is a good idea that hasn’t been done to […]

  6. […] more of a monologue with an older version of our heroes. Can it me that this film hit its peak in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? One can make that argument, because these two Mockingjay pictures have not felt like a fitting end […]

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