Movie Review: CATCHING FIRE
Francis Lawrence, thank goodness you took over the Hunger Games film franchise. No more shaky cam! Catching Fire was by far a better movie than The Hunger Games. The world of Panem is so much better fleshed out this time around, which could also be attributed to a higher budget and better special effects, but I think direction plays a large part in the improvements.
We get a more empathetic look at the characters, from the starring Victors to the supporting crew in the Capitol and the Districts. The stakes have never felt higher, and this action-packed story never once plays like a middle movie (it helps that the book that provides the source material is arguably the best in the series). It’s a more intense, emotional story that feels deftly guided, though never too polished.
Our favorite parts in Catching Fire:
Even if you’re SO over the Team Gale vs. Team Peeta debate, there can be no doubt the romance between Katniss and both these guys is a driving force in the books, and it was largely ignored in the first movie. There is a lot more romantic tension before and during the Quarter Quell with Gale and Peeta, and we see Katniss convincingly torn in both directions as she tries to stay alive and keep her loved ones safe from President Snow.
Effie Trinket Grows a Heart
Finally Effie steps out from being a total caricature, and actually becomes a character with feelings! I love Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of Effie—she can make me laugh and tear up in the same moment.
I could not be more pleased with Stanley Tucci’s performance as Caesar Flickerman. He was even more ebullient and hilariously appalling in this installment. He and Effie do a good job of showing us the insane theatrics of the Capitol, but with a softer side that reminds us these Capitolites are just trying to survive in their own twisted, painted and be-wigged way.
The Victory tour costumes, the fiery chariot outfits and the big wedding dress transformation were all stunningly gorgeous. I know this fashion comes only in the excess-driven Capitol, but it is oh so LOVELY. And thankfully, in the hands of Cinna, it’s also subversive and witty as well.
Jena Malone steals pretty much every scene she’s in as axe-wielding Johanna Mason, especially the elevator scene in which we first meet her.
Mags & Finnick
If you aren’t utterly charmed by Mags and her grandmotherly relationship with Finnick, you must be missing a sensitivity chip. I wasn’t a fan of Sam being cast as Finnick, but I stand corrected. He did an amazing job as the playboy victor turned arena ally.
Nuts and Volts
Beetee and Wiress may not have a ton of screen time, but their weird and endearing delivery had me smiling and wanting to give them each a hug. I would say I want to protect them from the horrors of the arena, but I think they do pretty well with their tech savvy brains and unconventional way of seeing the world, better than I could, for sure.
Muttations, killer fog, lightning, and an interesting cornucopia and arena setup made for an action-packed Quarter Quell. The special effects were far superior to the last arena we saw on the big screen, and it made the experience even more intense.
The Final Line
I’m not spoiling it for those who haven’t read Catching Fire, but the last line is as equally chilling as in the book. Jennifer Lawrence is acting her butt off in that last scene.
What Could Have Been Better:
I’ll be honest, I still don’t think Katniss and Peeta have much chemistry on the big screen (maybe Jennifer and Josh are just too brother/sister-ish in real life for them to convincingly want to rip each other’s clothes off), so the film version really tempts me to switch to Team Gale. But I’m a bookish gal at heart, so my Team Peeta feels are firmly in place.
Catching Fire was a thrilling, emotional, faithful adaptation of this beloved book that had me on the edge of my seat until its last line, which stresses me out MAJORLY. I can’t wait until Mockingjay: Part 1 hits theaters.
Ok, honestly, there’s no way we can ever outdo Peter K. Rosenthal’s review for The Onion, cause let’s face it, they say what we’ve all been thinking.