Catching Fire - movie review


I have to say that I liked ‘Catching Fire’ a lot more than ‘The Hunger Games’.

I think most of it had to do with a director change. I’d like to personally thank whoever thought to oust Gary Ross in favor of Francis Lawrence. Bravo. Ross didn’t know what the hell he was doing and made a nausea-inducing, shaky-cam film. This film, thankfully, didn't employ shaky-cam often.

As I said with my ‘Hunger Games’ review, I have not read any of the books, so I’m coming to the films with fresh eyes, having none of that “oh, they left that part out?” sentimentality.

I’ll be honest, I forgot much of what happened in the first film. I didn’t remember the berries, or that Katniss and Peeta supposedly fell in love during the games, or that having them BOTH survive was unique to the games and the foundation of a societal revolution in the Districts. But they catch you up on all that pretty quickly, so that’s nice.

The acting was very good, especially Jennifer Lawrence’s final moments onscreen.  Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, and Stanley Tucci are great as always. I loved when Tucci’s character, the extremely flamboyant talk show host, came onscreen out of the shadows, you saw his gleaming white teeth before almost anything else. That’s funny. I think Josh Hutcherson does a good job, but to me he looks a little doofy. Don’t know what it is about him.

And I still love Elizabeth Banks’ crazy fashion in the film, so apropos of a future society with sycophantic people full of their own greatness. Seeing Lenny Kravitz in the movie was again strange. And Philip Seymour Hoffman? I had no idea he was in this one. I guess there wasn’t an annoying Paul Thomas Anderson movie to be in at the time.

I liked seeing Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer (of ‘So I Married An Axe Murderer’ fame). And Jena Malone, too? Cool. I haven’t seen her in a film in a while. (And I’m not going to lie, NOT getting a decent look at her when her character strips naked in one scene was kind of a letdown. Oh, sure, you can show all the crazy violence you want in a PG-13 film... but boobs? Oh, heaven forbid! We can’t show boobs... apparently.)

Speaking of violence, this film is pretty violent. I am amazed that so many women like these movies and books. I hear that the books describe the deaths in very graphic ways. Do women like this series simply because it has a female lead? And why are there no critics of this violence like there were when ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ came out? I heard so many people crying over how violent TDKR was, but I don’t think it was anything close to what’s in either of the Hunger Games films. But I digress...

Although I did find this note about the book series on wikipedia: “The novel has also been controversial with parents; it ranked in fifth place on the American Library Association’s list of frequently challenged books for 2010, with "unsuited to age group" and "violence" being among the reasons cited.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t really notice any recognizable theme music in this film. Maybe on a second watch.

I liked the rampaging troop of Mandrills (you know, the kind of ape that Rafiki is). I read online that in the book the attacking primates are called Monkey Mutts (can author Suzanne Collins only come up with shitty names for things?) and they’re actually fairly strange-looking, with orange fur. I’m glad the filmmakers went with something that most people haven’t seen, but is still real.

Lastly, I have to say (and this only takes away a tiny bit of my enjoyment of this series) that Katniss and Peeta are really, really stupid names. It’s too bad that Suzanne Collins can only come up with stupid names. Why am I the only one who cares about this? Whatever.