Saturday, November 30, 2013

Catching Fire Review

It was awesome. The end.

What? You want more? Ok. Everything that was good about the first movie has been improved in the second. Everything that was bad about the first one is less noticeable in the second.

Possibly the greatest strength of The Hunger Games was the casting. Donald Sutherland as Snow, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Catching Fire added Philip Seymour Hoffman as Heavensbee and Sam Claflin as Finnick, both of whom are perfect choices for their roles, and play them wonderfully. In fact, every performance in the movie was good at the very worst, excepting perhaps Willow Shields as Prim, who could be a bit wooden at times.

After the casting and the acting, the fidelity with the book was The Hunger Games’ strongest point, and again it is even stronger here. Catching Fire was loyal enough that, as a reader of the book, I was able to relax and trust the filmmakers to take me where I needed to go. They had to cut a few things of course, but most of what they cut is hardly noticeable, and some actually tightens the flow of the plot. I wish that they would have explained a main plot element just a little better, because I worry that some people might be confused. But other than that, I can see the reasoning behind any cut they made, even when they cut something I wished they’d have been able to keep.

The music was solid. There were only a couple of points during which I remember noticing it being particularly good, but I never had an issue with it.

One of the points in the original movie that I disliked, but that I grew to look forward to in the sequel, were the scenes away from the main character. In the books, the entire story is told from the perspective of Katniss, but in the movie adaptations, they chose to explain things to the audience that Katniss did not know. In the first movie, I felt—and still feel—that this was a weakness. But in Catching Fire, most of these end up being scenes between Snow and Heavensbee (between Sutherland and Hoffman), whose interplay is enjoyable and informative, particularly for someone who has read the books or watched the movie previously. I love these scenes.

Perhaps the weakest point of the movie was the same as the first one—that the filmmakers had to make small changes to the execution of the story in order to maintain a PG-13 rating. A couple of seconds here or there were cut or toned down, and one sequence in particular suffers from a shaky camera that never quite seems to focus on the action. But even this has been improved upon, so that it’s only truly noticeable in the one sequence, unless you’ve read the books and are looking for the places they toned down.

I was on the edge of my seat for much of the movie, and walked out of the theater completely satisfied with a film for the first time this year. I give Catching Fire an 8.5 out of 10. If it weren’t for a few minor gripes, it would get a 9.


Ok, here’s the part where I warn about spoilers ahead. :)

These are mainly minor gripes that didn’t really influence how much I enjoyed the movie. Altogether, they cost the movie half a point.

I wasn’t totally happy with the execution of the fog. It seemed like there was an invisible line—on one side, they weren’t hurt by the fog, on the other, they were getting burned alive. I would have been happier if there had been a middle area where the fog caused minor damage. I was also disappointed by how effective the salt water was—that it just washed away the poison. I would have preferred if there had been marks left on them, irritation from where the poison had touched, even after the salt water had leeched it from them.

I was disappointed that they had to cut the foreshadowing for District 13. I could see why they did it, and even why it was necessary, but it made the reveal at the end a bit jarring.

Likewise, I wish they hadn’t needed to cut the explanation of the previous Quarter Quells and Haymitch’s victory. I would have been willing to sit the extra ten minutes for these elements to be explained, but I’m not sure everyone would have. They made the right decision, but I wish they hadn’t needed to.

I thought that a couple of scenes felt slightly rushed. Again, they had to be, for the sake of time, so I don’t hold it against the movie too much. 


All right! There's my opinion of it! What did you think of it? Feel free to comment and let me know!