Yesterday my friends and I went to see Catching Fire at an IMAX theatre and I loved it. As someone who has read all the books and loved them, as well as really enjoyed the first instalment in the Hunger Games film series, I had high expectations. Pretty much all of them were met and exceeded, and I think this is possibly one of the best film adaptations I’ve watched. I tend to be very critical of film adaptations of books I love while at the same time finding it hard to not like it just because the source material is so dear to me. But even with my bias I think it was a very good movie and that it told the story very similarly to how the novel did. My friends who had at most a general idea about what the story was in Catching Fire both enjoyed it a lot, too. Due to all the excitement yesterday and my general inability to write coherently about anything before I’ve watched it at least twice, this will mostly be me rambling about what I loved.
I thought the movie looked great from start to finish. They shot the movie in some fantastic locations and the directing and cinematography really made good use of it. As we got to see the differences between the different Districts as they were travelling, the contrast between the Capitol and District 12 was more pronounced this time around. The arena itself was just what I had imagined when reading the book. I loved the makeup and costumes that were used, especially all of Katniss’ dresses while in the Capitol. I always loved reading about Cinna’s designs in the books, and seeing them on screen, so similar to what I imagined, was really cool.
I don’t think I have a single complaint, and I’m known to be nit-picky about the most stupid things when it comes to casting and acting. Personally I felt that everyone did a good or great job, and that the new characters were really well cast. I particularly enjoyed Sam Claflin as Finnick and Phillip Seymore Hoffman as Plutarc, but all of them held their own. Josh Hutcherson is still a perfect Peeta, and Jennifer Lawrence is just perfect in general.
I knew there would be cuts – there always are in these kinds of adaptations – and I’m so happy that for the most part I didn’t even notice them. I already knew going in that Haymitch’s games had been cut, which, while a shame, is not the end of the world for me. The only other notable missing scene I can remember that I wish was in the movie was Peeta’s paintings that he shows Katniss during the Victor tour, mostly because after seeing the painting he did of Rue during their tests I really would have liked to see more.
Pretty much all the scenes I was really looking forward to were in the movie and were done really well, but what I appreciated most were the little things they easily could have decided to cut but didn’t. Things like the drink that makes you throw up and Peeta’s reaction to it in the Capitol, the blood in Snow’s drink, Finnick’s line about dealing in secrets, etc. The additional scenes that we didn’t get in the book because of the first perspective narration were also a lot more interesting here than in the Hunger Games. Knowing that Plutarc was planning to overthrow Snow throughout the game made their interactions more fascinating, and I enjoyed seeing how they came to the decision to reap from the districts’ victors. Last but not least, I really admire that they went ahead and ended the movie the same way that Suzanne Collins ended the book, leaving the audience on a cliff-hanger.
Also, I am happy that while they did play up the romance a little more in the movie than in the book, it didn’t feel more important than it’s supposed to be, and I had an easier time liking Gale in the movie than I did in the book.