I’m not going to lie. I was worried about this movie. I was very impressed with The Hunger Games, but when I heard that they were going to release the sequel only a year and a half after The Hunger Games came out, it gave me reason for concern. Then the director of The Hunger Games decided not to direct Catching Fire because he didn’t like how quickly Lionsgate wanted to release it. So I wasn’t expecting Catching Fire to be as good as The Hunger Games, and that’s the attitude I had going into the theatre.
Boy, was I wrong. Catching Fire blew me away. The cinematography was beautiful. The acting was spot-on. The plot was just really well-told. I honestly have to say that I enjoyed Catching Fire more than I enjoyed The Hunger Games.
I really appreciated that from the start, they dealt with the psychological repercussions of the 74th Hunger Games on Katniss. I will do my best not to reveal any major plot points in this post, but I think it’s safe to reveal that the very first scene involves Katniss coming face-to-face with what happened in The Hunger Games. Throughout the movie, we see her trying to deal with all the death that she witnessed and the fact that she survived, not to mention all the publicity that comes along with being a victor.
I also liked how dynamic Katniss is in Catching Fire. In The Hunger Games, it seemed like she didn’t really change much. She simply did what she had to do. In Catching Fire, though, Katniss goes through a lot of changes, and there is a clear progression of steps leading her from being one way to becoming a completely different person. It’s really great, and I’m excited to see how it progresses over the next two films.
Catching Fire is also funny. I know that sounds odd, but somehow the filmmakers managed to insert some hilarious moments into what is on the surface a really bleak movie. It’s always nice to take a break from the dreariness and laugh for a minute.
I think the most compelling thing about Catching Fire is the mystery of it. This may not apply to people who have already read the books, but for me, it was fun to watch the movie unfold and put the pieces together. I kept asking myself, “What could that mean?” and it was fun to see it all come together at the end. Again, that aspect of the movie probably doesn’t apply to those you who have already read the book series, but then again, if you’ve read the books, you probably want to see the movie anyway. And I’ve been told that Catching Fire is a pretty fair adaption of the book (as opposed to The Hunger Games, which got some complaints for leaving out certain details).
I do have one complaint about the movie: the name. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Sorry, I thought The Hunger Games was the name of the first movie. Surely most moviegoers know that the sequel to The Hunger Games is called Catching Fire. There was really no need to add The Hunger Games to the front of it and make Catching Fire look like a subtitle. What’s really going to be awkward is naming the two parts of Mockingjay. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One is an unnecessarily long title. Can’t wait to see the promotional material for that one.
But awkward title aside, this movie is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly suggest it. If you haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet, watch it on Netflix (use the one-month free trial if you must) and then go see Catching Fire. And always remember who the real enemy is.
Bonus: Here’s a hilarious Catching Fire-theme parody of Wrecking Ball that my friend Kevin shared with me.