It wasn’t planned, but my latest review happens to tie in nicely with bookmousenook’s recent feature on book to film adaptations, as the 2nd book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy hits the silver screen.
As a fan of both the books, and (for all its faults) the first movie, it’s going to be tough to review this as a film in its own right – such is the curse of sequels and adaptations, so expect comparisons galore, along with spoilers for the first book / movie.
After very publicly defying Capitol with her berry stunt at the end of The Hunger Games, Katnis Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has unwittingly sewn the seeds of hope amongst the districts, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has given her the duration of her “Victor’s tour” (a kind if traveling press junket) to extinguish the flames of revolution that she has inadvertently lit. She fails, of course (I suppose that’s technically a spoiler, but I suspect our readers are smart enough to know that “revolutionary figurehead quashes her own revolution” isn’t the kind of pitch that gets made into a multi-million dollar movie) but the president has another trick up his sleeve – the upcoming Hunger Games is the 75th, and a rule dictates that every 25th games has a twist in the rules that mark it as special. This year, the tributes will be chosen from each district’s existing pool of victors; with Katnis as district 12’s only female victor, she’s going to have to fight for her life again, in a whole new arena
Recently, I’ve been wondering if I have a form of cinematic ADHD, as it seems that every movie I watch has been (for good or ill) somewhat slow paced; this movie has reassured me that the issue has been one of viewing habits, rather than my own attention span. Catching Fire, while the filmmakers have done their best to contain it, is frankly enough plot and action for 2 movies; even with a lot of the book’s detail omitted for time.
My main (well, only) complaint with the first movie was that it felt more like illustrated highlights than an actual fim-of-the-book; while a better job has been made this time around, there is still enough missing to, for me at least, prevent this from being a great film.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it; I did, very much, but I am concerned that an audience unfamiliar with the book wouldn’t truly appreciate what was happening. While the events are all in place, the political climate is fairly poorly painted, and much of the foreshadowing is missed altogether.
The acting is universally solid, but a special mention must go to Elizabeth Banks, as Effie Trinket, who is masterful in the reaping scene, playing Effie as genuinely sad to be doing what she’s doing, but acting bright and professional – acting at acting, if you will.
A good movie, that could so easily have been split into 2 great movies (as is the plan for the final part of the trilogy), I’d strongly recommend reading the book first.
May the odds be ever in your favour.