I’ve been counting down until the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pretty much since the credits rolled at the end of the first film. I had the opportunity to attend an early screening of Catching Fire, taking a few days off of my wait!
So, was Catching Fire worth the wait?
Without giving you any spoilers, Catching Fire has more action and takes you deeper than The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games (as both a book and movie) sucked me in with its premise- seriously, kids being forced to fight to the death in a reality tv-style game? But as with the second book, the second movie goes further.
We find out more about the Capitol, the other districts, and an uprising. The Hunger Games themselves are more intense because it’s no longer nameless, faceless tributes killing each other, but people who have been friends for years.
When The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ends, you will immediately be ready for Mockingjay(parts 1 and 2). When the screen went dark, my son said “Well, that sucks!” I was a little shocked until he told me he meant the cliffhanger ending and he wondered why would couldn’t just sit in the movie theater for five or six more hours to watch the story come play out to completion.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review, Book vs Movie
If you’ve read the book, none of this will spoil the story for you. If you haven’t, you should probably skip this part. And then go read Catching Fire(seriously, are there people who haven’t read it?).
Let’s face it- the book is almost always better than the movie. There’s just no way to cram all that detail into a 2 or 3 hour movie. But, that said, I was pleased with the adaptation.
I reread the book last weekend so that it would be fresh in my mind and I was thrilled by how many lines in the movie came directly from the book.
One thing that bugged me about the first Hunger Games was that I didn’t feel like it was completely clear that Katniss was faking her attraction to Peeta in order to save her skin. It was hinted at and I got it because I’d read the book, but I felt like that wasn’t completely clear in the movie. It’s obvious from the beginning of Catching Fire that this is the case, though.
But, I still feel like the romance part is off, since the majority of the movie makes it seem like Katniss would choose Gale if she weren’t going through hell thanks to President Snow. It’s not that simple.
There’s no scene in the woods with district rebels who are trying to find District 13 and the fence doesn’t get electrified, trapping Katniss. Though the fence was never really that big of a deal in the first movie, so that might have seemed out of place. And some things have to go to keep the movie at a shorter length. But it’s odd that there’s no real talk about District 13: no one looking for it, no rumors about it still existing, not talk about what happened to it at all. In the Hunger Games, 13 districts are mentioned in the propos video Effie shows before the reaping, but nothing is ever said about why there are only 12 districts. So, it could be a little confusing to someone who has not read the book when they are headed to District 13 at the end of the movie.
Also missing is when Plutarch Heavensbee shows Katniss his watch with the Mockingjay on it and says “It starts at midnight.” Katniss still dances with him in the Capitol and they talk, but that part is missing. I wish that had been in there. And with as much as they show Heavensbeen during the movie, I wanted him to be more likeable and less of an asshole, since we know that he is part of the uprising. I didn’t see any hint that he wasn’t completely Capitol until almost the very end. Maybe that was done for dramatic effect and to keep non-readers in the dark, but I wanted to like him more than I did.
We don’t get to see how Haymitch fought in the last quarter quell and used the arena to his advantage, defying the Capitol in his own way. But we do see him defying the Capitol in the square when Gale is being whipped.
What is in the movie that isn’t in the book are the scenes with President Snow and in the game control room. I thought that the addition of these in both Hunger Games movies was genius. In the books, we just know what Katniss knows and have to infer what is going on in the Capitol. But that’s harder to pull off in a movie unless they started letting us hear Katniss’s thoughts. Yeah, SO glad they chose to have these extra scenes rather than having Katniss narrate everything, much as I adore her character.
Peeta does drop the “baby bomb” during the interviews before the Quarter Quell, but then it’s never mentioned again. I think it should have been one or the other there: either have him say it and keep the mentions in the arena about her fake pregnancy, or don’t have him mention it at all. The way it played out was odd.
The Hunger Games arena in Catching Fire was pretty terrifying. Not just because people were killing each other, but because of all that was in it. It was pretty spectacular.
As we get to the end of the Catching Fire movie, instead of Katniss remembering Haymitch telling her to remember who the enemy is, Finnick tells her this- genius change because yeah, I don’t want to hear voices in Katniss’s head.
Katniss shoots her arrow with the wire attached to the ceiling of the dome, not the chink in the force field(even though the chinks in the force field were talked about): a change that didn’t make sense to me, but still works for the story.
In the final minutes of the movie, I kept wondering if maybe it would end a little differently from the book, because the book has a major cliffhanger. But the movie stayed true to the book there and ended the same way(causing my son’s “that sucks” comment).
Overall, I feel like fans of the book Catching Fire will enjoy the movie. Most of the changes are pretty minor and you can understand from a movie standpoint why they were made. You’ll have to let me know what you think after you see it!
Should I take my kids to see Catching Fire?
Hunger Games: Catching Fire is rated PG-13. It’s all the killing that does it. They bleep out Johanna Mason repeatedly saying F*&% during her interview(a pretty hilarious touch). And there’s no sex. It’s the killing and the mature theme of the movie that gives it this rating. I do think Catching Fire is more intense than Hunger Games, however if your kids handled the first one, they should be okay with the second.
I originally had planned to see the movie on my own and then gauge whether or not to take my oldest, who has seen the first movie a few times. And then possibly take him with me another time or just wait to let him watch it on DVD. He’s 8(almost 9- does that sound better?), but he’s extremely mature for his age. I wouldn’t take his brother, who is just a year younger because the main concept would freak him out and he wouldn’t get the deeper themes of the movie. I ended up taking my oldest to this advanced screening(he wasn’t the only kid there) and I don’t regret it.
Bottom line: like with any movie- know your kids and what they can handle.
It’s holiday movie season! Be sure to check out my review of Delivery Man, too!