Friday, November 29, 2013

Catching Fire (the movie): Review

Ok, so on Tuesday, I saw Catching Fire.
And what did I think of it?
Loved it! It was awesome! It upped the action, the sacrifice, the emotions, the stakes, the characters... This movie was amazing, it was much much better than the first one! Buuuut... it could've been better!


Ok, ok, let me elaborate: I am fangirl, of course 'll be unhappy about something, even if it's a nitpick (and most of them are). And of course - you are always welcome to disagree with me, and I'd love to hear it, but this is my blog and therefore - my opinion.

First, my rating:           (9 s)

SPOILER ALERT!!! (For both the movie and the book. If you haven't seen the movie/or read the book, you should probably stop reading)


Now, let's start with the good:

Well, most of it really. But I am not going to go into detail about what's so amazing in each and every scene, so I'll do this instead: I'll say what I liked in the movie better than I did in the book/the previous movie.

Now, have in mind I haven't read the book in a year, but I still have a good memory, so there it is: 


1. Effie

  I loved Effie and even more so in the films. Elizabeth Banks is amazing and she looks like she's having the time of her life. Ok, I like Effie equally everywhere, but I could really feel how much she cares here.

2. 'The Odds Are Never in Our Favor' 

    Damn that graffiti inscription on a wall gave me a geekgasm every time I saw it in the trailer and of course - so it did in the film! It was just the perfect motto for a rebellion in that universe.

3. Snow's granddaughter.

   It was mentioned that he had one in the books, but we could never get an emotional attachment, as we never saw her, Here we see here and... she's just a normal girl about Prim's age, despite obviously being fed the Capitol's propaganda - that's not her fault.

4. 'Someday, I'll volunteer like you did.'

    It was a very powerful scene when this little girl told this to Katniss in one of the districts. Very good commentary there. Katniss's face (screaming internally) was really the most powerful thing in the scene and it shows how amazing the visual medium can be - just one facial expression manages to convey so much from the books.

5. I understand Katniss a lot better.

     I thought that the first movie made Katniss a lot more (or at least slightly more) likable than she's in the books and it's the same with this film. For instance,  the scene where Katniss has to choose allies and she goes for the ones that seem the oddest of them all. In the book it felt like she was purposefully separating herself from the rest of the victors (which in a sense she is), but it just seemed that she  was being stubborn and an idiot, while in the movie, when I actually saw the rest of the victors/tributes, I really understood and sympathized with Katniss. In the long term it really wasn't the smartest move, but Katniss is an emotional person and often goes with her feelings rather than her brains.

6. Peeta (compared to the first film.)

   Now, when the first movie came out, it was around the time of the Twilight-clones, when movies were trying to look/seem like Twilight, to attract that crowd and if you look at The Hunger Games more carefully, you'll see it, especially with Peeta's character.They really wanted to play him as the tormented, but deep guy that no one understands and in the process turned him extremely emo and suicidal (aka Edward), which... he is not! There is so much more to his character! He is likable, accessible, friendly, everybody liked him (even Gale, who tried very hard not to), the cameras loved him, he wanted to rebel in his own way in the Games, he cares, he is a good person, he is talented... Yeah, he had (and did until the end of the trilogy) this emo side to him, but the first movie really wanted to play it as if this was his most major characteristic and it wasn't. This movie really felt like an apology in that sense.


Now the Bad.



First, let me start with the nit-picks  and the smaller things.


1. The info-dumps (Snow and Plutarch conversations & other things outside of Katniss's POV)

   Now, maybe I am saying this as someone who's read the books and these scenes were actually helpful for audience members, who only watch the movies, but... really? This movie really did a lot more telling than showing than it should have! In the first film, I felt the scenes outside Katniss's POV in the first movie were well placed and necessary, and even if they weren't they were at least way less in numbers, where here I felt beaten over the head with it. We get it, Snow's a bad guy, move on, please!


2. Missing scenes: 
    - Plutarch's mockingjay clock.
    This scene was a major plot point in the book! That's how Katniss is tipped off about the arena and that there is something going on and maybe Plutarch is part of it. They already added the dancing scene, would it have been that much of a bother to add like 5-10 more seconds of screen time, so he can flash the clock at her?!
    - The truth about 13.
     13 is the major source of revolution and it will be a very, very important setting in movie 3. Yes, they dump 13 on us at the end, like it's no big deal, but it is and Katniss figuring it out was important!
    - Katniss and Peeta bonding.
     Yeah, they talk about colors in the film, whoopty-do! They had a lot more real connection in the book. We get the scene where he stays to sleep next to her, which was pretty great, but we don't actually see them spend quality time together. 
     - Peeta's paintings of the Hunger Games and Katniss's reaction to them
       They show us Katniss's PTSD but what about Peeta - did he just went on unscarred by the Games? And like 10 seconds of screen time, where Peeta would've really benefited my previous point about the bonding.
     - Peeta and Katniss watching Haymitch's Hunger Games
       Yeah, it's not like that was important plot point in the book or anything and it's how Katniss decides to destroy the force field at the end or made the characters bond or the fans wanted to see it so bad, they made their own fan videos or anything... No, we can skip that 5-minute scene.
     - The bread that signified the plan for interrupting the games
       I am not bothered that much by this one, but it was important in the book, so I'd just like to point it out.

3. This movie could've benefited from (at least) two montages with noor almost no speaking:
     - Katniss and Peeta bonding/victims of the new regime in 12 montage. 
      This could've been great and both a happy and sad montages by showing katniss explaining plants to peeta and him painting them after she got hurt which also wasn't in the movie) and then cut away to the whipped people Katniss's mother and sister heal. It could've been a beautiful bit and it didn't need to be longer than 2-3 minutes.
     - Training/Film reel from previous Hunger Games montage 
       This was important! Yes the scenes where Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch face the idea of going back into the arena and Haymitch teaching them about the other victors were still pretty great, but they could've been better.

4. Games related pet-peeves;

     Why were some tributes shown and interviewed together and others not?! And did ya' miss a canon or two there (AGAIN)?!


But ok, all of those are as I said nit-picks, which forgive, but here are my two actual problems with this film:

5. Johanna Mason is hilariously miscast
      I am so happy with the casting in this film, everyone just fits their role perfectly!  Well, except for my favorite character - Johanna Mason. She is a tough character to cast and I was especially worried when I found out they were casting one of the girls from Sucker Punch. Yeah, great choice there, director!  Jena Malone wasn't even convincing in that stupid movie (SP) as the smart-assed bitchy sarcastic one of the group (and there it was all an act, because inside she was actually a dreamer inside), let alone here.
    Now, in all fairness I think that the writers and director did a decent job with her character and the actress god-bless her does her best, but... she just looked like she was trying too hard. Whenever I saw Johanna on screen... she just looked like an angry teenager acting out, because her mother grounded her for a month, and now she was going to miss prom and not like someone who's every reason for existence has been slowly and painfully taken away from her in constant, in attempts to shatter, but instead turned her into a weapon for the rebellion. I mean, Katniss seems much more hurt, rebellious and hardened and sarcastic than Johanna and no one she loves has even been taken from her yet.

6. 12A (UK)/ PG13 (USA) Rating
   This as an adaptation of a book focused around teenagers killing each other and people dying on daily basics how does that not get at least a 15 rating?! It's filled with violence and heavy theme and because of that stupid rating we got to see none of it! It was either:
1. cut away from through ridiculously fast editing 
2. my 'favorite' shakey-cam technique was used. 
Also Johanna's cursing was actually censored! I... no, just no!

To summarize: It may seem like I am bitching a lot, but I always do that, so do not be fooled: I loved the movie, I thought it was awesome, I did not feel how the time passed by and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Peace out,
Thea K

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