Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scattered Thoughts on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, or, if you're not American, a lovely week. It has been a week since I saw the latest Hunger Games film Catching Fire and it's pretty great. It improved on the first film and did justice to the book. After the jump are my bulleted list of thoughts...

- Thank goodness the first film did so well so this film could have a much bigger budget, because it showed. Not that the first film looked like crap (well some of it did), but Catching Fire really looked incredible especially the hair and costumes. The tribute entrances alone were breathtaking.

- Can we talk about just how great Elizabeth Banks is as Effie? She didn't get to do much last film and managed to steal the movie with just one line, but she was allowed to do a bit more here and it's one of two characters in the film that left me with such a lasting impression. Her pained expression alone in the Reaping before she reads Katniss' name kills me.

- The other character who made an impression for me was Joanna as played pitch perfectly by Jena Malone, which is another slam dunk for the casting team of this franchise. So many people, myself included, were slightly (or a lot) apprehensive about this casting, but she really owned it. That elevator scene and her big "fuck you" scene are deservedly getting all the love, but I can't shake her wonderful line delivery of  "there's no one left I love" towards the end.

- Speaking of Joanna's "fuck you" scene, I love that whole sequence of Caesar interviewing each of them, ending with all of the previous Victors holding hands and showing solidarity. But of course, my FAVORITE part of that whole deal was Peeta's baby bombshell which gave me the same OH SHIT reaction in the film as when I read the book. Well done.

- Stanley Tucci's super bright teeth and wooden laugh will haunt my nightmares forever. Forever.

- It's been awhile since I've read the books so I don't exactly remember if the Victory Tour was cut short or not here. Probably. But the film deftly handled it, with an extended and HEARTBREAKING scene in Rue and Thresh's District 11, which got the tears going on early for me, to the evolution of Katniss/Peeta's interaction with each district, trying to play the parts the Capitol forced upon them. Some great bit of acting from both Lawrence and Hutcherson.

- Silly little thing, but I love that they kept Peeta's reaction to taking the drink to make them sick so they could eat more while others are starving. The book and film have highlighted how different the Capitol is from the rest of Panem in a variety of ways, but this was the most poignant example to me.

- Donald Sutherland freaked me the hell out, which is exactly what should be happening. Showing him bleeding into his champagne glass gave me goosebumps. And I half expected him to do something bad to his granddaughter who hilariously seemed to be the president of the Katniss Fan Club. But seriously, after seeing her in the braids, I expected to see her with short hair in another scene.

- Philip Seymour Hoffman is good casting. I'm so used to him playing evil that I, a book reader, completely forgot he was part of the revolution. I also have the worst memory, but that's neither here nor there.

- I found myself slightly enjoying the non-Hunger Games part of the film more than the actual Hunger Games, mostly because unlike when I read the book, I was as lost and intrigued by the mystery of the arena so that when the big reveal that it was a clock and that every section had their own dangers I was impressed. Here I was just waiting until the characters found out.

- It makes sense why they didn't delve into Haymitch more especially with regards to his past Games, but maybe they could insert it somehow into the next films? Or not.

- So... is Cinna dead or not? At this point in the book, it's also left ambiguous. I'm slightly hoping they change the ending in the film though for reasons. That scene though, with Katniss on the other end of the glass and about to enter the arena in all her anger/sadness/confusion, was exactly how I pictured it.

- Prim scenes for all the feels. That's all.

- For me, the verdict is still out on Sam Claflin's Finnick. I mean I really liked him in the book, who didn't, but there's somethingn abotu Claflin's performance that feels a bit stand-offish. He's certainly pretty enough, but something was just off. He probably needed to be more naked. Stupid PG-13.

- Nice decision to end the film on Katniss' face as her face went from sadness to determination. I wish the audience had gotten more of a punch gut regarding the fate of District 12 and the existence of District 13, but this would do especially since the next two films will be able to handle all of that. And even though I didn't really mention it yet, Jennifer Lawrence is just doing something special with this role. So good.

I just can't wait for Mockinjay and even more intrigued by just how the hell they're going to adapt it as a PG-13 film (let alone two films). It's TRAUMATIZING and show the scars of WAR and if people thought children killing each other in the first film was bad, oh boy. But this film gave me hope that the people in charge know what they're doing so just bring it on.

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