Click here to read my review of The Hunger Games!
Catching Fire – Novel by Suzanne Collins
Let it be known, Catching Fire is my favorite installment of the trilogy. Where The Hunger Games wows us with this sick dystopian world, the contrived Capitol, and the defiant emergence of Katniss, Catching Fire really ups the stakes for the story and we begin to see the severity of Katniss’ survival in the Games and what it means for the other district citizens.
Catching Fire is so successful in what it sets out to do. With most trilogies, the middle installment naturally acts as a bridge between two major plot points, but often they are either dull and just filling a gap between two pieces of information or completely overloaded with material that you get kind of lost. What I love about Catching Fire is that it IS a bridge between two major plot points, but can still stand alone on its own. It introduces very important new characters and themes, reveals more depth to existing characters, and reinforces and reiterates what is important about this story without constantly repeating itself.
If I could, I would read Catching Fire again and again and again. It is an exiting piece of work and it really begins to construct the rebellion brewing in Panem, which leads seamlessly into Mockingjay. The rapid events at the ending of the story happen quite quickly, and was something I had to reread in order to truly understand, but if done well could transition onto screen perfectly. Catching Fire is definitely the strongest of the three books; an opinion I know I share with most fans of the series.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – Directed by Francis Lawrence
Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of “Catching Fire” makes “The Hunger Games” seem like childs play. As a huge fan of the first movie (you can read my review here), I was interested and skeptical in how this film would pan out with a new director. “Catching Fire” hits us over the head with brilliance and does the book incredible justice.
Just like the Third Quarter Quell, everything about “Catching Fire” is bigger and better. The actors have developed stronger skills, the costumes are avantgarde and absolutely brilliant, and the special effects blow the previous movie out of the water. The Tribute Parade and CGI animals in the arena were the most notable differences for me. In “The Hunger Games” the Tribute Parade is almost embarrassing. The special effects were sub par and it was really the only part of the movie I truly didn’t like. Similarly, the “mutts” in “The Hunger Games” were very fake looking and, while scary in thought, weren’t realistic. The current films Tribute Parade is as if we are transported to a dystopian ancient Greece, and Katniss and Peeta’s costumes are astonishingly executed without the cheesy flames of the first film. And the baboons in the arena? Absolutely terrifying.
Most importantly, the journey we, as viewers, go on with our beloved characters is emotional and real. In a moment of purity, Effie breaks down in her disappointment with what has happened with Katniss and Peeta and expresses her loyalty to them as a team. It is touching and moving, and I found myself getting choked up at most points throughout the film. Newcomers like Finnick and Johanna elevate the storyline and bring realness to what is happening; like Katniss and Peeta, they are victors and they have also been betrayed by the Capitol.
All biases aside, something needs to be said about Jennifer Lawrence’s role as Katniss. The final scene is astounding, her facial expressions flawless, and it is as if you are completely inside Katniss’ head without her saying a word at all. The last few minutes of the film has me clenching the side of my seat and ended with a cliff hanger of astronomical proportions, leaving me beyond anxious for “Mockingjay Part One.” Catching Fire is absolutely brilliant and I personally felt it was as near flawless of an adaptation as they come.
Mook Rating – ★★★★★