One day, when Lexie The Wonder Puppy was preoccupied with a particularly interesting doggie toy, I popped the dvd of Katniss’s latest celluloid adventure in and awaited the greatness I had been promised by virtually everyone.
And Greatness Is What I Got.
Catching Fire is the adaptation of the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, the amazing story of how Katniss, a teenage girl very proficient with a bow and arrow, accidentally causes a revolution against the corrupt government. All in the name of love.
The first book, The Hunger Games, begat the first movie, The Hunger Games, which did exceptional box office but was met by lukewarm reviews. For various reasons never fully disclosed, the director was switched for this one and the remaining films to Francis Lawrence. Which now shifts me into my SPOILER FILLED look at Catching Fire.
While I really enjoyed the premiere movie in the series, Catching Fire not only ups the ante considerably story wise, but every other aspect as well. Right away, the new stylized look and feel of this dystopia pulls you into Katniss’s terrifying world with a flow that makes all real. From the despair of District 12 to the high tech cameras that cover Katniss’s celebrity to the wild deadliness of the arena, every part of this world has a retooled and revitalized spark to them. Everything is moving onward and upward, and that is amazing.
As for the story itself, it remarkably adheres almost exactly to what author Suzanne Collins envisioned, with only small bits and pieces here and their omitted. The basic framework, Katniss is told by President Snow to go forth on the upcoming Victory Tour and pretend her disobedience at the end of the previous games was out of love, not rebellion. She goes along in order to protect her family, but every stop along to way she causes more civil discord. President Snow finally decides to rig the next Hunger Games to eliminate Katniss and the rest of the Tributes and almost succeeds. But unknown to Katniss, she is a pawn in a greater play, one where she and several others are broken out of the game and are spirited away. All to set the stage for her role in the war now raging. A war to be showcased in Mockingjay, the next film.
Every beat of Catching Fire is so right.
The evil decadent Capitol and its thuggish totalitarian ways pour through every part, with the riots on the tour giving us a taste of brutality, and the suppression by overwhelming force of the innocent people of District 12, being just the start of the horrors Katniss feels guilty of causing.
Training sessions brings us fan favourites Mags, Finnick, Wiress, Beetee, and Johanna, and they are all we could hope for and more. Each actor and actress possesses their roles, making this ragtag group of rebels into a cohesive unit. By the time we reach the epic conclusion, we hope and want all these Tributes to survive and thrive, even through some are already dead at this point.
And while reading the horrors of this particular Hunger Games is the stuff of nightmares, actually witnessing it slams your senses. When the middle of the clockface spins at tremendous speed, terror not only grips the characters but the viewer. The Capital will destroy them for the alleged amusement of all, and that scene pummels home that point even more.
By the time we reach the last scenes, and find out the fate of District 12, we are treated to yet another bravura performance by Jennifer Lawrence, who lives and breathes Katniss. So much can be said about this excellent, versatile young actress, all of it well earned.
Mockingjay is coming, the war is raging, and Katniss will lead the way with her trusty bow.
And I can’t wait.
…is currently reading Schultz and Peanuts by David Michaelis