Ok, so I saw Catching Fire for the second time last night. I needed to take my daughter to see it and I figured it’d be a good time for me to really “digest” the movie with an unbiased ‘I read the book’ perspective. When I first saw the movie opening day, I had some pretty hefty expectations. I mean, new director, bigger budget, added cast and the most amazing arena upgrades should have been an easy slam dunk for Hollywood to nail. But alas, to my dismay, the screenplay took quite a few turns that I just couldn’t ignore. Some omissions were cool – like some of the plot-line stuff with characters from the Hobb – and even switching around how Gale got whipped in the Square. I also didn’t like the interaction between Katnis, Joanna, and Fennick. They were way to chummy for me and it took away from the suspense of the scenes.
Omissions aside, my real complaints came in the form of director to actor execution of lines that remained intact. Fennick didn’t nail the ‘Secrets’ line when he met Katnis by the horses, Beatty and Wiress didn’t finish each other’s sentences with the same synchronicity as the book and one on one time between Katnis and Petta was not as intimate and engaging as the book; although they did kind of pull things together at the end and made you think Katnis was ‘catching fire’ for Petta vs Gale. Catching Fire was such an amazing book from a writing standpoint. Collins came up with a killer story with action, romance, and the thick aura of desperateness and despair engulfing each page. Her genius really shined when you appreciate how she crafted the way in which the characters were pulled back into the ‘Games’ after surviving the first one. I just wanted her story to shine in the same way. Some plot-line changes irked me as well, but I still thought that Catching Fire as a whole was a pretty good film that matched the hype train.
With having a first screening under my belt, I was able to look at the film with fresh eyes, already knowing what to expect. Thankfully, the second experience was even better. I was able to get past the unexecuted lines and appreciate the creative prowess of Lawrence as a director and even the brilliance of Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast. The action sequences in the arena are the main highlight of the film for me, and even though I wish there was more time to be spent trudging through the wedges of the “clock arena’, for the most part, the important parts were kept in tact. And even though I have not read the last one yet, I’m excited for the third installment; even though I know that Hollywood is splitting it up into two films for more money. Tisk, tisk. But really, pay Collins. I ain’t mad on bit, because she threw down an ingenious story that deserves every penny.
You need to shovel out a few yourself if you have not seen the movie or read the book. You will not be disappointed. I give the book a 5/5 and the movie a fiery 4/5.