Spoilerific reviews under the cut!
Little Miss Mionie: I felt like Catching Fire was a much smoother production in terms of costuming, filming and dialogue. There were less awkward scenes between characters, especially Katniss and Peeta, whose growing feelings were portrayed perfectly. This was due to a much firmer grip on the way the shots were handled and how the dialogue was paced. Johanna was probably my new favourite cast mate. Jennifer Lawrence was again amazing at Katniss. My favourite shot was the final, where we see her expressive face harden, resolute.
I will unashamedly admit that I have issues with the films as a whole - Katniss is white, Peeta didn't lose his leg and the whole franchising for me personally goes against the deeper message of the books (capitalism makes us blind to suffering, have empathy, with violence comes trauma). When I heard about the Subway tie-in for Catching Fire, I was like...
You are killing the books which I hold dear. But when I looked past these issues, I found I enjoyed this sleeker production, and felt that it captured the heart of the books. I am grateful for the little changes or additions that the filmmakers didn't necessarily have to do: changing Buttercup, making Katniss' eyes grey, showing her trauma from the Hunger Games. What they left out this time didn't seem too much of a big deal - ie. the plot points changed can be explained another way (the clip of District 13, for instance, or Plutarch showing Katniss his watch.) Definitely keen to watch this adaptation again!
(Crystal over at Mockingjay.net also has a great fan review of the film that basically explains all of my feels.)
Cindella204: I've seen this film twice now and I loved it. Seriously. Best book to movie I've seen (granted I haven't read the Harry Potter books) for one simple reason: every major theme from the book made it onscreen.
A lot of time when books become movies you lose the messages and emotions that made you love them, and that stinks. I think that happened with the first film to some degree. It was so...clean, for lack of a better term, that you missed the point of the film. The emotional scenes fell flat for me, so it was almost like you were seeing it from the Capitol perspective, you know, this is all just a little game. But not with this film, which was awesome. Also, three major things I didn't think they'd be able to do that they did:
I. They made me care about what happens before the Quarter Quell announcement. When I was first reading these books my friend told me that the beginning of CF sucks, but if I stuck with it there was a HUGE plot twist and then it got better than the first book. I'm glad she warned me. I definitely don't care about any of Katniss' romance problems in D12, and even the Victory Tour was...meh. But not in the film. The D12 scenes were trimmed so that every one there really counted, and the Victory Tour was great. I honestly didn't even remember that scene in District Eleven where they assassinate the man who started the three finger salute, but in the movie it is one of the scenes that sticks with me the most. It's perfect. I saw the movie for the second time on Sunday and I was actually excited to watch the pre-Arena scenes again. That's huge for me.
II. They made me love Finnick and Johanna even more than I already did. Finnick, Annie, and Johanna (in that order) are my three favorite characters in this series, and I was worried about seeing Finnick and Johanna onscreen, but I had nothing to fear :) Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are fantastic, and the writing (which honestly doesn't get enough credit in films/television) was just as good. The film did a great job portraying every side of Finnick, from the sexy (Got any secrets worth my time, girl on fire?) to the sassy (Honey, that thing I just did for Peeta was saving his life. If I wanted you dead I would have already killed you.) to the heartbroken (MAGS!). All of it was beautifully done. Same with Johanna.
III. The Games were horrifying and emotional without being gory. The Games just go from one thing to the next, and unlike the first film it's heart-wrenching, it it makes you hate the Games and the Capitol. I mean, Mags, monkeys, Johanna, jabberjays, on and on and on it just builds and makes you feel, just like the book did, and I really love that. There's not really a way to explain it other than to say that the emotional stuff was really on point.
I didn't love everything about this film. They cut one of my favorite scenes in the whole book, at the end when Finnick's talking to Katniss and he says that he wishes they were all dead. Sugar cube scene was decent, but not perfect. They still haven't quite figured out how to do Josh Hutcherson's hair right. But all in all it was a great film, and I really loved it.
Titania: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire exceeds the first movie, The Hunger Games, in scope and storytelling. There are not enough superlatives for the performances in this film – every single character has gained in complexity and nuance and even the characters who spend very little time on film do not have one wasted line or act that does not reveal something about who they are.
This is true from the sniffling gullability of Octavia and Flavius while watcning Cashmere’s and Gloss’ interview and the feisty tenderness of Mags to the fabulous Haymitch, Finnick, Johanna and Cinna. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance takes the already richly complex protagonist of the story, Katniss and gives her subtelies that even exceed those of the novels. Enough cannot be said about Josh Hutcherson’s portrayal of Peeta. Given more material, Josh doesn’t just portay Peeta - he owns the character.
Other characters light up the screen, most notably, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, who steals every single scene she is in, from her entrance in Victor’s Village at the beginning of the film to her heart-wrenching goodbye to Katniss and Peeta before they enter the Quarter Quell Arena in which she grows into a mature awarness of the unfairness of their plight. I could have done without the extra Galeness but overall, I absolutely loved it!
Owl: Fear and Hope. And yes, you read it right; this movie is about fear and hope, not love. Suzanne Collins' main concern throughout the series is the reason why we fell in love with this dystopian literature world: the fight of the repressed against the powerful dictator. Unlike the first movie, we now see the faces of thousands of hungry Panem citizens wanting, needing and finally initiating the fight against the Capitol. The new uprising. The rebellion.
That's how we start this new sequence of The Hunger Games. And that's what's happening in the backstage all the time, that's what moves the main plot and, thank god, that's what makes Kaniss finally realize the impact of her actions.
But the movie comes from a 1st person POV, so soon we settle in on Katniss and her gang. The breathtaking arena and the heartbreaking story of the Victors once more thrown in there to kill each other. This is a breaking point in the story, and in Panem's government itself. It shows how President Snow is willing to risk any kind of love, including from the Capitol citizens—who adore the Victors—for power. And that's Cornelius motivation: power. Katniss, who provides hope, represents what could destroy the only thing keeping his remarkable power in place, fear.
But OMG, let's get to the fangirling part: Galeniss x Everlark.
Katniss is scared and feels helpless against the brutality and total power of Snow’s rule, leaving her paralyzed with fear for her friends and family. This leaves little room for her to sort out her confused, chaotic feelings about her differing relationships with long-time friend, Gale and pretend-lover, Peeta. She can't make any kind of decisions right now (though we know the future triggers of her choice!). And then we get to a stalemate. While Katniss is confused and her mind is too full to think about something as silly as love, both boys are fully aware of what they want (maybe we can blame the hormones?). Beginning with scene one, we know Gale Hawthorne wants her as more than just a hunting partner. Peeta confessed his love for the girl in front of the entire country, and even though he now feels wounded by her lack of romantic affection, we can see that he still does, and apparently always will, love her (if he still loves her after that cold shower, nothing can stop the baker’s son!). And this movie offers no resolution to the dilemma. We have a sweet good-bye kiss in D12, a desperate kiss in the arena, a confessional kiss after a hunt and a hungry kiss in the beach. She can't choose, so she keeps kissing. (Nice MO, girl on fire).
Well, well, well... Our supporting roles are beautifully filled by wise Haymitch, shining Effie, meaningful Cinna and lovely Buttercup—just kidding, the cat is horrible as always. Johanna Mason shocks you and Finnick Odair makes your breathless. Mags breaks your heart and Beetee makes you remember your high school classes (and it's still fun, don't worry).
Francis Lawrence brought this sequence to life with a superior technique, portraying canon moments with just a blink of the camera, and adding new moments that fit perfectly in the story. The photography explores the different scenarios intelligently, and each scene is an example of light, position and pure art.
It's a long movie, but we travel throughout Panem with Katniss, who promises—in a deep angry stare ending the movie—to show why the country should follow and burn with the girl on fire.
Best line: "Love is weird."- Johanna Mason.
What did you think of Catching Fire? Share with us in the comments!