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Movie of the week: Hunger Games - Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) PosterThough I enjoyed the book, I was a little disappointed that it seemed to be an excuse to put Katniss and Peeta through another round of battling to the death, i.e. offer the same book again, but dressed in a slightly different outfit. The movie is excellent, however, better than the book and better than the first movie (which I rated pretty highly).

Yes, it's more of the same, but I'm not giving away too many spoilers if I say that Katniss and Peeta's flouting of authority at the end of the first movie has put them in direct conflict with the Capitol and President Snow (played by an extremely creepy Donald Sutherland, and what a good villain he makes). Tension is mounting and the movie's pacing draws that out very effectively. Katniss doesn't seek to be the symbol for resistance to the regime, but it happens anyway. All she wants to do is protect those she loves but as Snow's forces increase their stranglehold on the districts, that becomes more and more difficult.

In the 75th Quarter Quell all the tributes are drawn from previous winners, some young, fit and lethal, others now elderly or in some way damaged. Yes they are supposed to fight to the death, leaving only one winner, but this doesn't play out the same as the first round of games. It's fairly faithful to the central story from the book, while condensing out a few of the sub-plots and more minor characters.

The love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta is well played and utterly believable. All the actors are strong, particularly Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (Katniss and Peeta). Liam Hemsworth makes the most of his relatively short on-screen time as Gale and special nod to Woody Harrelson playing Haymitch, the booze-sodden former winner who is Katniss and |Peeta's mentor. There's a newcomer this time as Sam Claflin steps up to the plate as Finnick, one of the returning tributes and someone Katniss refuses to trust. There's excellent support from Elizabeth Banks as the hideously OTT but perfectly nuanced Effie Trinket, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Katniss and Peeta's stylist who is responsible for their impact on the public of Panem.

Of course it doesn't end very neatly as it's the middle movie in a trilogy. In fact, I gather it may be the second in a quartet as like other major movie franchises they seem to be splitting the final book, Mockingjay, into two movies, which I think is a mistake (as it was with Deathly Hallows and the deeply irritating final pair of Twilight movies).

Well worth seeing.

Comments

Seeing as how the third book was a total train wreck, I hope they are totally rewriting it.

I was going to avoid this one, as I thought the second book essentially a retread of the first, but too many people are enjoying the film version, so . . . changing my mind.
First, let me say that I bolted down the whole trilogy without stopping for breath, though the first one was definitely the best of the three. Agree that the second book felt like a replay of the first book, though it still carried me along.
My big problem with the third book was Katniss' lack of agency, depressive funk and the lack of resolution between Katniss and Gale and, of course, the Prim thing. Tyhe whole thing felt inconsistent. I wanted to complete the trilogy, but I was much less enamoured of the third book. At the moment I can't see how they can make it into two movies without extensive rewriting.

But I do think that the second movie has teased out the main components of the second book and presented them extremely well. There were several edge-of-your-seat moments. There's much more dramatic tension in the movie than there was in the book.
That's what I'm hearing.
blue eyes

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