Check out our his and hers reviews of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the follow up film to The Hunger Games, which is based on the books by Suzanne Collins! The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is directed by Francis Lawrence, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, and Liam Hemsworth. Read on as Josh and Violet provide their male vs. female perspective reviews of the movie!
His Review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:
For those not in the “know”, The Hunger Games is a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, reprising her role as the “Girl on Fire”, Katniss Everdeen, as well as Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Catching Fire was directed by Francis Lawrence, known probably mostly for I am Legend. There has already been one movie, following the first book, and Catching Fire follows the events of the second book. A brief description of the overarching plot is thus:
A totalitarian government, known as the Capitol, rules over its 12 districts. These districts each possess a unique commodity, which is by and large taken by the government, and little is left for the people of the districts themselves, creating poverty stricken districts. Every year, President Snow, the leader of the nation, holds a “Hunger Games”, an event in which a male and female teenage child is “reaped” (chosen) at random to participate in the event. The children are chosen from each district, and is meant to be a tribute to the government, which around 75 years ago was formed after a bloody war (or so the propaganda President Snow uses would say). This event is a battle to the death, in which one victor survives, living in riches for the rest of his or her life in their district.
The first film/book followed Katniss through her journey, where she volunteered for her sister who had been the unlucky winner. Her male counterpart, Peeta, also participated in the Games, and through the help of several people (Cinna, Haymitch, and even Effie, albeit not very much), they turned the event into something other than President Snow had intended—giving too much hope to the people of the Districts, and President Snow is aware of this all too well. Katniss and Peeta manage to work the system enough, allowing for two winners of that year’s Games—themselves.
Sadly, the first film missed some integral parts of what the story is really about, completely missing some important components of who Peeta and Katniss are—and what they will become, when compared to the trilogy. I can’t understate how much this has affected my thoughts on the future of the trilogy, and these characters are going to be missing these moments.
Having said all that, I actually should talk about Caching Fire, and I have to say, I am very happy with how this film turned out, all things considered. While it has been some time since I have read the book, I felt this movie much more closely followed the events of the novel. Attending the double feature many theaters were showing (showing both The Hunger Games then Catching Fire back to back) shows just how starkly these two films differ in terms of quality.
In Catching Fire, we follow the events post-games, in which President Snow realizes the inherent danger of hope—and lets Katniss know personally that the volatile climate in the districts is her fault. Katniss, wanting only for herself and her family to be safe, promises to do everything she can to quell the restlessness in the districts, but quickly things spin out of control, beyond the salvaging that Katniss can do on her own. President Snow isn’t happy about this and resorts to drastic measures to re-establish control.
I was actually riveted watching how the events unfolded, and thought it flowed really well. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson played their roles well, feeling stuck in a situation far beyond their control or even comprehension. Of course, Woody Harrelson played Haymitch well, and there were several gut-wrenching moments we have to witness as the uprisings are quelled in often-violent ways.
The film certainly has it flaws, some of the big one that stuck out to me were Wiress and her “tick-tocking”, which came off as feeling really forced. Also, while I understand Maggie’s significance to Finnick’s storyline, in the film she felt more in the way than anything else. Also, I could not help but notice that half of the time Finnick had Maggie on his back, it was easy to tell that it was a dummy. I also found the scene where Finnick, Peeta and Katniss have to find water rather cheesy, and it seemed like most of the rest of the film’s audience seemed to as well. These were fairly minor though, and easily overlooked given the rest of the movie’s performance.
Peeta’s character, although still a little watered down, shows much more of whom he is relative to the book, much more so than the first film. I do not really fault the film for this however, as with translating from film to books, it is hard to convey all of the nuances that the book has. Also, this film had to inherent the flaws of the first film, which is the cause of most of the character development issues with Peeta. (In case you can’t tell, I am definitely “Team Peeta”—or at least from the books I am, wait, what is this, Twilight?)
Overall I think I would give this film a 7.5 out of 10. Unfortunately, it does suffer a bit from the “It’s not as good as the book” syndrome, but it certainly is much better adapted than most novels are. If some of the scenes didn’t seem so forced to match the book, or feel quite as watered down, I would give it a little higher rating.
Now, for the next (two) movies, we follow the events of the third book, which is by far the least favorite of mine, however, the best part of those books I thought, were Peeta’s character, and the changes he is forced to go through. I hope this is handled well, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how book three is adapted for 2 films.
Her Review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, directed by Francis Lawrence, is the sequel to The Hunger Games, which was directed by Gary Ross. As most people know, these movies are based on the trilogy of The Hunger Games novels written by Suzanne Collins, with the first film being based on the first book, and this second film being based on the second book. The third book, Mockingjay, will be split into two movies. The Hunger Games films star Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, our brave heroine, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Katniss’s fellow victor in the Hunger Games, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss and Peeta’s mentor in the Games, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Katniss’s best friend.
To provide a quick recap of the first film, Katniss and Peeta won the 74th Annual Hunger Games, a yearly event in which each of the 12 Districts which support the overbearing, superficial Capitol are forced to send one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in a fight to the death. There’s only supposed to be one winner, but Katniss and Peeta played up the “Star-Crossed Lovers” angle, acting like they were in love (although Peeta wasn’t really acting), and when it came down to only Katniss and Peeta in the end, Katniss defied the evil Capitol, coming up with the idea of both of them eating poison berries, thus threatening to leave the Capitol with no victor of the Hunger Games. So both of them were allowed to win and return home to glory.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up a few months after the previous movie, with Katniss and Peeta about to embark on a Victory Tour to each of the districts and the Capitol to celebrate their win. However, President Snow unexpectedly drops by to warn Katniss that due to her defiance, there has been unrest in the districts, and that if she wants to save the ones she loves, she must convince everyone that what she did in the Hunger Games was only because of her love for Peeta. Things start to get out of hand as they tour the districts, and when they return home, changes are made in District 12. Katniss’s inability to stop the rebellions in the districts culminates in an unexpected twist when the 75th Annual Hunger Games rolls around: only previous victors will be sent, regardless of age. This leads to Katniss and Peeta being sent into the Hunger Games yet again, each of them going in with the intention of saving the other.
If you’ve read our previous movie reviews, you’ll know that I always like to go into a novel-based movie having just read the book. Despite having read The Hunger Games trilogy twice before (once several months before the first movie was even announced, and again just before we saw the first movie), this was no exception. I had planned to read the entire trilogy in advance of seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but I was only able to read the first book, and get about 2/3 the second book. Anyway, so most of the events of the book were fresh in my mind upon seeing the IMAX double feature of The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Thursday, November 21. (I have since finished the second book and am about halfway through the third book, in case you were wondering.)
Overall, I thought The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was a very good adaption of book to movie, although I did feel that several important details and key scenes were left out, and that the relationships between Katniss and Gale, and Katniss and-Peeta were not accurately portrayed. That being said, I do understand that there’s only a limited amount of time to work with when making a movie, and that some details will have to be sacrificed for the sake of time, and further, that clocking in at 2 hours and 26 minutes, this movie was already on the long side.
In any case, despite things being left out or changed from the book, being such a huge fan of the books, I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite books brought to life on the huge IMAX screen. I thought Francis Lawrence did a great job directing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which was a vast improvement from the subpar direction given in the first movie by Gary Ross. There were several emotional scenes in this movie that consumed me, whereas in the first film, I didn’t get that as much, even though I knew there were places that I should have, because those scenes had moved me in the book. There were also a lot of things left out or changed in the first movie that really angered me, while I wasn’t as upset by the differences between the second book and movie. I think one of the reasons was because I knew that it wasn’t the second movie’s fault that certain things were left out of the first movie, and therefore this follow up movie couldn’t do anything about that (such as a certain character who is supposed to be missing a certain body part). Additionally, there were a lot of subtleties, details, and specific dialogue from the Catching Fire book that made it into the movie that I was quite pleased about.
On a girly note, the Capitol costumes were just as spectacular, if not more, than the first film.
My rating: 8/10
(In case you were curious, I would have given The Hunger Games a 6.)
The next film in the series, Mockingjay — Part 1, is set to hit theaters November 21, 2014, with the finale, Mockingjay — Part 2, scheduled to be released on November 20, 2015. Francis Lawrence will be directing those films as well.