So let me start off by establishing my Hunger Games cred; I am a big fan. I can’t claim to have slept on any sidewalks waiting for the book or movie premier, but I have read the books 3 times and we own the first movie. I must admit that I was pretty skeptical when Franc tried to convince me that this young adult book was going to be the best thing I ever read, but once I dove in, I was hooked.
Now I must admit, the first movie was less than stellar, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the second installment. But whereas the first movie was the equivalent of a pimply awkward teenager, Catching Fire is all grown up. This movie is awesome. It is a potent, polished, and powerful brew of young love, bold defiance, and violent uprising.
The film follows Katniss Everdeen in life after the Hunger Games. Her act of berry eating defiance has sparked uprisings in many of the districts and Katniss is struggling to cope with the horrors she experienced in the area. She is also navigating the complexities of her love triangle with Peeta and Gale and learning to accept her new role as the symbol of the revolution. Katniss and Peeta take another trip into the arena where the mutts are meaner, the tributes more lethal and the stakes are much higher.
So what did I love about this movie? First off, the storyline was clean and crisp, no meaningless moments or awkward pauses. The casting was perfect. I am still impressed by Woody Harrelson as Haymitch; it is as if Suzanne Collins wrote that character with Woody in mind. And the cinematography was beautiful. The arena was a perfect mix between computer graphics and natural environments. Whereas the first film felt as if the tributes were wandering in the woods in Anywhere, USA, this arena felt real and well defined.
Of course there were differences between the book and the movie. As I walked out of the movie theater, all I could hear were the die-hard fans spouting out everything that was ‘wrong’ with the movie. But every movie based on a book poses the same old conundrum, how can you fit all the details of a 300-page book into a 2 ½ hour film? We must accept that this fantasy just isn’t possible. The more important question is, did the items they chose to omit or change make sense in the film? In the case of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire I believe it did.
Is this movie worth seeing in the theaters? Yes and no. It is definitely a must-see, but is it worth the $12 to see it in the theaters? For the true Hunger Games fan I would say yes, but for the average Joe with an HD screen at home, I think you can still have the same great experience by waiting a few months and renting it at Red Box.
But don’t miss out, this is a truly wonderful film. It unexpectedly bucks your typical trilogy trend by being far superior than the first film and it will leave you anxiously waiting to see what will become of Panem and the Girl on Fire.
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Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the movie!