Hi from the set of… well, I can’t say.
Partner-in-cinema-crime Clint and I checked out “Hunger Games : Catching Fire” together at the premiere on Monday night; you’ll find his review here. You’ve read the cheeky guy’s perspective, now here’s the thoughtful two-cents of the fangirl.
You know that feeling you get when something you love is made into a movie, or rebooted or sequel-ed and all it does is make you dislike everything you loved about the original? ”Catching Fire” totally doesn’t do that.
The movie is everything you want it to be. It is a worthy successor to the great original film, and a strong adaptation of the book. Much like the amazing ”Harry Potter” Films, the amazing cast of ”Catching Fire” make it more than just a great book movie. They make it a great film.
This is a faithful adaptation of the best novel in Suzanne Collins trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence continues to be the best thing that has come out of Hollywood in years. Katniss is a role that in the wrong hands would be a bitchy girl with death wish and murderous tendencies, but Lawrence with only a look can convey the love she has for her family and friends. Katniss is a strong, independent and brave woman who deserves more than being simplified into a love triangle and with Lawrence she isn’t.
The supporting cast shines as characters from the first movie are expanded upon. Woody Harrelson, while not getting quite the backstory he received in the books, still stands out as drunken mentor Haymitch. Elizabeth Banks takes great leaps in making the eccentric Effie into a humanized character. Donald Sutherland who is creepy in pretty much everything, is shudder inducing as the formidable President Snow. Stanley Tucci is a virtual chameleon and Lenny Kravitz shows a gravitas I was unaware the singer had.
As for the love interests Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is as loveable and honourable as ever, showing why he is the moral center in Collins’ dystopian novel. Gale actually gets to be in more than 2 scenes, which is a step up from the first movie, but Liam Hemsworth still is relegated to a background player, with the seeds being laid for his much expanded role in the 2 ”Mockingjay” movies. Both boys get their fair share of kisses in the film, but unlike some recent films *Cough*Twilight*Cough*, there is no shame or love triangle forced upon Katniss, she has bigger things to worry about than who she is in love with.
Sam Claflin is someone who I was worried about when I first heard he was cast, but boy was I wrong. He is Finnick. He manages to be both suave and cocky, while you are still able to see the broken boy underneath (and yes, the sugar cubes are mentioned). Jena Malone shows the sassy Johanna Mason as a badass woman who has the anger that anybody would have when their lives are being taken away from them. Her interview with Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman is a highlight.
”Catching Fire” is the perfect mix between the innocence of the first film and the war that is to come.
Not everything is perfect, the film, despite going for 2 and half hours, moves rapid pace to make sure to hit all the points of the book. Sometimes this need to be faithful to the source material means losing moments that could have had a more emotional punch. There are those standard moments in book adaptations where things are unclear for people who haven’t read the book, but most of these moments are not needed to understand the overall plot of the film. Killer monkeys are just as ridiculous as you would expect, and some writhing into a lake leads to an unintentionally hilarious moment.
As it comes down to it, this movie is everything the books fan will want, and enjoyable enough for those who have no idea what Panem is.