Starting The Hunger Games Catching Fire Book Review I want to tell you guys. First I didn’t get a Saturday review up this weekend.
Why? Because Friday’s showing of Catching Fire was all sold out.
Catching Fire Cast
Now here at LTBM we have done ‘books to movies’ before. A big part of a sequel for me is that the same person plays a character in each sequel.
For me that’s a given. In big roles, like the way Jennifer is played by one girl in Back to the Future and then switches for the next two is annoying, and in smaller roles like Fandral in the two Thor films, as well. I’m a movie buff and faces need to stay the same. Catching Fire does NOT disappoint. (Now, there’s an absence of Wes Bently, but for reasons that follow true to the book.)
Having read the trilogy I was curious as to how intense the movie would be. The scenes I wondered about the most was the beating of Gale and then the gaming island itself. The beating of Gale wasn’t as intense as seeing the beating in ‘The Passion’, which I for one, was thankful since these are “children’s books”. I knew children would be there and that scene in ‘The Passion’ still haunts me. It was still well done and more realistic from the wounds to the blood splatters on the Peacekeepers Commander’s uniform.
The island I was indeed pleased with. I think it’s hard to show everything that was depicted in the book and put it on screen, but they did well. There’s a couple of liberties taken by the producers, but nothing that takes away from the story line.
In all honesty I really only have 2 complaints: the alliance made on the island with other players was revealed as having another purpose way too early. Then the closing scene with Jennifer Lawrence going from upset and crying to mad and determined…I just didn’t buy her facial expressions; for me it looked more like having bad gas cramps that then subsided; but that was my take on it.
I personally like the casting of Lawrence as Katniss and Hutcherson as Peeta. Some, my wife being one, struggles with Hutcherson. Seems like some people want a stronger Peeta. However, when I look at the books, Peeta is portrayed quite well in my opinion. He’s a talented, quiet, and deep loving young man. Hutcherson pulls this off quite well. The strong, edgy, aggressive character in the books is Katniss, which Lawrence pulls off quite well.
My other casting remark… President Snow. When I read these books I see Donald Sutherland. I can’t imagine anyone else pulling this guy off. He’s a calm, cool, collective kind of evil. Donald Sutherland is one that can truly present himself in this way.
Snow meets with Katniss at the beginning of the movie and his challenge to her is to convince him that she’s in love with Peeta. As the movie plays out this is one emotion from Katniss, a character that generally doesn’t show feelings, gradually reveals itself and intensifies.
The time comes when Snow begins to talk about this year’s Hunger Games. The premise of these games is that every 25 years (the quarter quell) something changes up. Snow wants Katniss dead as she continually brings hope to the districts and rebellions are happening every single time Katniss and Peeta visit.
It’s interesting if you make correlations between Biblical ideas and the movie; some Christian aspects flow throughout. One of which is when Gale tells Katniss that she has given people hope and something to fight for He says they just have to be brave enough to fight for it.
Christianity is the same way; Jesus gave us hope, true hope, and something to fight for. It takes bravery to choose that fight, though. Think about the bravery it took for Peter to leave his nets and boat and choose to follow Jesus instead.
Therefore, since fighting and hope are spreading, Snow decides that the ‘Hunger Games’ contestants must come from previous victors. He knows that there is only one female victor from sector 12, so Katniss is forced to go. This is her chance to make sure that she finally dies. Once again, It is Katniss and Peeta getting ready to fight for their lives.
There’s a scene where Katniss just wants to run away with Gale. He challenges her fears. There’s hope out there building and he sees it. People are talking and planning. She wants to run, but she knows she has a duty. If you think about the Apostle Peter, he suffers a vey similar dilemma when Christ is on trial: run or stay? In Mark 14:66-72 we can see where Peter denies Christ 3 times and refuses his role as a Christian and leader. Then, when Jesus is condemned to die, his inner strength is kindled. From that point forward, Peter has a determination to his duty. Similarly, Katniss doesn’t want to be an example of Hope and she wants to run and deny it all, until Gale is beaten. There she gains the strength to stand and fight.
One of my favorite scenes, from the book that is depicted in the movie, though very quick and often missed, is when the tributes are brought in to the wealthy of the Capitol to demonstrate their skill set and even argue their case for sponsorship. In a similar Biblical setting, Jesus is gathered in a crowd in John 8:6 and being questioned. Jesus chooses not to respond at first; he simply chooses to write in the sand. When Peeta is called forth, instead of displaying his fighting skills or arguing his points, he simply drops and paints on the floor a touching dedication to Rue. In the same way Jesus just let the people talk and he ignored them, drawing in the sand to show their words didn’t matter. Peeta lets the Capitol know their opinion doesn’t matter to him by ignoring them and painting.
The action of the movie kicks in half way through and the former Victors, now once again competitors, are lifted into an island. Now with a new game maker, since Seneca (Bently) was killed for letting the 2 previous Victors survive the last games, Katniss and Peeta, the games seem more tricky and deadly. For fans of the book, the visuals of this island do not disappoint. The “trials” are very well done. A couple of liberties are taken on the island, but nothing that distracts from the movie.
I won’t spoil the rest so as not to ruin it for anyone.
I will say, there’s a reason it’s the top movie right now and destined to be the top November record breaker.
The biggest complaints that I have read this weekend are due to the lack of action in the first half of the movie. There is so much more to this book that just simply can’t be put into one movie. This could have been broken into a 2 part like a few movie books, but it would have taken away from the purpose of the film. Without the background part in the first half, there wouldn’t be an understanding of why the game takes place with former Victors being placed on the island. I, for one, was surprised when it ended and I had sat there for 2 hours and 26 minutes.
The second biggest complain is that it ends abruptly and making you have to see the third movie. It honestly ends the same way the second book does. It ends leaving you wondering, questioning, angry, and worried.
Bring on the 3rd movie!
From the scenery, to the acting, to special affects, and most of all how it adheres to the book, I give this a 4 star.
It’s undeniable that this is an outstanding movie and deserves a top rating.
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