Catching Fire

By Erin Clarke2013_the_hunger_games_catching_fire-wide

Along with my proven TV addiction I have a serious movie and book issue as well. (You do know the first step is admitting you have a problem, and I have a big one.)  I devour books, I get lost in the worlds and get extremely excited when a book I love is adapted for the screen, whether large or small.  When I read Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy, I must admit I did it because I was intrigued at the ability for a YA series to get so much attention in the wake of the Twilight series blowing up on the big screen and when I read the first book, I was hooked.

Katniss Everdeen and her world was just the heroine I could root for and I loved the independence and strength she portrayed.  In comparison to the insufferable Bella, Katniss was a revelation for me and I was along for the ride.  Then came the first movie. I enjoyed it.  I didn’t love it, but I found it worth a few watches.  But there were definite problems with the first film.  At the time, I couldn’t really figure out what, but after seeing Catching Fire I can put my finger on the mystery.   I don’t think the studio had put much faith, money or trust in a new movie based on a series of books and may have felt there wasn’t enough room for Katniss among the shimmering vampires who walk in the day.  But let me tell you, Catching Fire is something different entirely, there is a feel to this movie that the first didn’t have.

Visually, the effects are spectacular and the green screen scenes are not as painfully obvious as they were in the first movie.  There is a different feel to this edition in the series as well.  We know these characters and we love them for the most part.  Some people are either Team Peeta or Team Gale but most fans are Team Katniss, the wonderful, ballsy, but very damaged from the 74th Games heroine.  With the addition of some very high caliber acting, the new characters are fantastic, with the introduction of Finnick Odair played by Sam Claflin, Jenna Malone as Joanna and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee they are the standouts in my opinion.

The movie is stunning in its portrayal of life after the Hunger Games and the way our favourite victors are dealing with their very obvious PTSD and sheer overwhelming sadness.  The movie is very true to the book, as the first one was but there were a few tidbits that I felt needed to be addressed that didn’t come up but that is so minor in the grand scheme of this movie that it really doesn’t change my opinion of how good this movie is.  And now for the flash of colour, the sublime beauty of the Capitol and my favourite character Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks.  She is a revelation in this movie, the crowd actually cheered at the premiere night showing that I attended as she came on screen, she is such a fan fave and she definitely doesn’t disappoint in this one, in fact you get more Effie for your dollar.

The basis of the series is the cruelty of the world the people of Panem live in, fear of the reaping every year, fear of the Peacekeepers, the absolute poverty so that the Capital can flourish and the cruelty of children killing each other for sport on an annual loop, but most of all the series is a love story between Katniss and her family, Katniss and her country and Katniss and 2 boys, Peeta and Gale, who love her for very different reasons and in very different ways.

Jennifer Lawrence has quickly become one of my favourite actresses and you see a performance in this film that is more mature and tougher than the first movie, she is an Oscar winning 20-something with the weight of the franchise on her shoulders and you would never know it, this performance is perfection.  In the supporting cast there isn’t a flaw to be had in any way, there is something about this movie that made 2 1/2 hours of time go by in the blink of an eye.  From the costumes (I want everything Katniss wears in this movie, except the scuba suit), to the music to the fear inducing arena, this movie is a definite must see.

In the end, the set up for the 3rd and 4th films are perfect, Katniss just wanted to save her sister in beginning and now she is responsible for an entire race and population, will the Mockingjay succeed, will she be stopped, will she finally choose between Peeta, Gale or herself as the love of her life…..I know that if you read the books, you know all the answers but it’s going to be very exciting to see the evolution of her character on screen and if the 2nd movie is any indication, they are just going to get better and better.