Review: Hunger Games Catching Fire

Today’s (yesterday’s) post was delayed since I went to the 10:45 showing of Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Even though most of you probably know exactly what happens, here is your SPOILER ALERT.

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I read the books in May and thought the second one was the best, so I was very eager to see how they adapted it for the silver screen.

I was not disappointed, although I had moments of doubt.

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The beginning was surprisingly flat. Like, I almost burst out laughing at how the lines were delivered without any expression. District 12 did not seem to bring out any emotional depth or connection for the actors, or maybe I just wasn’t feeling it. Gale and Katniss’ kiss could not have been more blunt. Even a few of the train scenes (“What’s your favourite colour?”) took me completely out of the film from the lack of sincerity.

This is not to discredit the emotional moments; the visit to District 11 had my eyes welling up and the ‘turning point’ in the film for me was definitely when they announce the reaping for the Quarter Quell. From then on the action picks up, things start getting interesting, and even if there are moments of weak acting there are plenty of distractions to make it forgivable.

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I was glad they stayed true to the storyline, although I was a bit disappointed that Plutarch Heavensbee didn’t offer her the watch clue at the party. Overall the story progressed nicely even with minor adaptations and omissions.

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Jennifer Lawrence was alright. So were (short) Josh Hutcherson and (hot) Liam Hemsworth. Willow Shield’s portrayal of Prim was nuanced but brief, and Stanley Tucci absolutely nailed it, as always. Woody Harrelson also carries his weight. Finnick is played by Sam Claflin who I am certain (read: hopeful) we will be seeing more of. He is worth the price of admission. I really strongly dislike Jena Malone and her entrance gave me more cause for concern. However, my dislike for her actually played into her character and in the end, she worked perfectly as Johanna.

This guy should have been cast as President Snow:

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[ He’s way more snake like and exactly who I pictured while reading. He also had that whole gardening thing going for him on Heroes. ]

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I’d definitely recommend seeing it. Although it doesn’t really warrant comparison, I’ll drag out the other young adult novels for scale. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the Twilight series, but that may be simply because it’s a far more exciting and stimulating story – more action, less romance, therefore a much better film adaptation. It’s nowhere near Harry Potter. When you watch a Harry Potter film, you are at Hogwarts, shopping in Diagon Alley, and casting spells. Hunger Games somehow never makes its world real or authentic. They are on sets, not in a different world (maybe because many of their locations were sets? i.e. the arena and the tour?) and that’s what made both films really good but not great.

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Overall, I’d give it an 8/10 for what it is – a fun, light, entertaining film that has plenty of potential for repeated viewings. It offers plenty of flash even if it lacks some substance.

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