Let’s start this by clearing the air, I hated Hunger Games so much. Before you start judging me, hear me out. The camera angles were problem number one. The way they would switch to hardcore handy cam when a death would occur drove me crazy. It made the deaths seem hoaxy, and it belittled some of their meanings. If it was satisfying with they handled Rue’s death and how Katniss’s major kill shot was rewarding then we have bigger problems to deal with. I also didn’t feel like the cast was fully developed and the characterization through out the film was not convincing: I did not believe the whole Peeta/Katniss love story, and god I was tired of all those shots to show off an angry Gale (she is not your woman, honey!). With that being said, I was super worried for Catching Fire and how it would play out.
Catching Fire was my favorite book in this series; it introduced my favorite character (Hello Finnick), it solidified Katniss’s feelings for Peeta, and it was the start of the revolution. With the various castings news I was always like, “hmm, he doesn’t seem right” or, “I don’t know how I feel about her”, but let me tell you there casting decisions were right.They were so right that they were almost perfect, especially for Finnick (Sam Claffin) and Johanna (Jena Malone). Jena Malone truly adopted this character, and I cannot wait to see what she does with her in the next film. Same goes for Sam Claffin as we see Finnick’s back story come to light. This wasn’t the only thing that was right, there was also tremendous growth in Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss and Josh Hutcherson‘s Peeta. Now I know you are thinking, “Really? You weren’t satisfied with Jennifer Lawrence’s first performance as Katniss?” and the answer is no. Not because she wasn’t good but because she didn’t own the role, trust me she owned it and was all up in it for this movie. I was blown away, I cannot even begin to talk about how many times she blew me away. Trust me, I watched it twice and both times her performance gave me chills. We also see Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) being forced to choose between Katniss and Peeta, and in the end it leaves a severed relationships between him and the one he betrays. The whole cast came together this time, and they put on a hell of a show.
How else did they get it right? This was an actual PG-13 movie! There may not have been a lot of blood, but it showed the action, the depth, the hardships and it didn’t shy away from intense material. You know that scene is How Harry Met Sally? That was me through and through. Okay, maybe I didn’t get that excited but I love nothing more than when a movie can get a book right. I also enjoyed the scenes from within the capital between Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and President Snow (Donald Sutherland), in Hunger Games they seemed forced but to feel President Snow’s hatred and then to see his realization of what was happening was brilliant. The most moving scene goes to The Victory Tour’s first stop at District 11, it was such a touching tribute to Rue that I couldn’t even handle it. This scene allows Katniss to see what she has inspired, but it also starts the bond between Katniss and Peeta as they rely on each other through the terrors that have to face from their hunger game. I know many critics called this film a stall sequel, but I can only guess that they didn’t read the books and were pissed off at that cliffhanger and pacing(the first two thirds of the book leads up to the Quarter Quell, and the games begin right afterwards making up only one third of the novel). My only advice to them and all people who are watching the movies without reading the books; call in sick for a week, go buy the books, and read now (once you start you will not be able to stop)!
Now I did have some complaints with the movie although they were minute. I despise Gale’s character and Liam Hemsworth‘s portrayal of him; I never cared for his dominant force and how he expected Katniss to be his. So when they decided to develop that romance more and have them kiss so much, I was a little ticked off. I was also thoroughly upset with the final scene, mostly because of that awful camera angle. It felt fake to me when the rest of the movie worked so hard to lead up to that point.
No, this movie will not win any awards, but when you go out to see a blockbuster hit this is what you expect to see. I highly recommend a viewing of this film before it goes out a theaters. Overall, I give this film four out of five hand claps.