I’ll cut to the chase and say that Catching Fire was my favourite book of the Hunger Games series, so I’ve really been looking forward to seeing this. Yes, I knew that it would have tones of second helpings by returning to the arena again, but I hoped the movie would reflect the darker, manipulative element of it.
Catching Fire follows Katniss and Peeta as they go on the victors tour of the districts. President Snow has warned her to make their love convincing and quell the hope and brewing rebellion happening around him. With each step they take seems to just enforce everything they stood for in the games, with death almost following one step behind them. With a shake of the head from Snow, her fears are confirmed that they haven’t done enough, and so the Quarter Quell is unveiled: the tributes will be picked from the living victors. Katniss will return, and Peeta volunteers to protect her.
For fans of the book, such as myself, it feels like they stuck generally close to the plot. Her relationship with Gale is amped up somewhat, with cheesy music in the background. That wasn’t exactly great. The “I had to do that at least once” snatched kiss would have been far more powerful on its own, but obviously Hollywood doesn’t quite operate like that.
The manipulation and fury of those in power is displayed well, as people are crushed around her. The baby sub-plot is pretty hilarious in the movie, and skimmed over very quickly. The anger of the contestants is great and the general characters are enjoyable – there’s some real laughs to be had.
But my favourite part of the book isn’t given as much time here, and I understand why. The actual arena was really clever, and the unravelling through the repeated tick, tock was fun in the movie. I knew it wouldn’t be given too much screen time on the whole, but I swear I could watch it all day.
It took a long time to get to the actual games, which I really felt. The time did drag, but then when the games kicked off it felt justified. The whole point of the movie is not the games themselves but the rebellion and feeling surrounding them, so why not dedicate over an hour to building up to it?
And that’s why I like it. Despite knowing what happens through the books (and I commend them again for sticking so closely to it from my memory), it felt like it took the Hunger Games to that next level. It was bigger, more glitzy, more weighted in the plot. It’s just an extension of everything that made the book stand out so much, and I like to think it pleases us who have been waiting for it.
I’m not a movie review (obviously), and I can only speak from the perspective of a fan. I would say “Roll on the next one!” but I was kind of disappointed by the 3rd book. At least the movie adaption of my favourite was fun!