After writing this, I realized I revealed quite a bit about the plot and the ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I was thinking of re-writing the entire thing but I just couldn’t find a way to express my feelings on the movie without revealing some things about the plot. So, before you read on, please know that there are going to be some SPOILERS regarding the film. There’s not too big (I think) but it’s better to warn you guys early.
I hate cliffhangers. Cliffhangers for me are the worst. They end an ongoing story abruptly and build up the story to a climax that never happens. You won’t get any satisfaction. You’ll have to wait for the next installment to answer everything. And I hate waiting, which is one of the reasons why I loathe cliffhangers. Don’t get me wrong; there are some cliffhangers that are done okay. Movies like Back to the Future II and Empire Strikes back manage to pull off closing with a cliffhanger because you still feel satisfied by the end.
I don’t feel the same way with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It didn’t ruin the entire film for me but there’s currently a pit in my stomach because of how the movie ended: an unsatisfying cliffhanger with nothing really resolved. To make a long story short, Catching Fire left me feeling empty when it ended but the ride was fairly enjoyable.
Anyway, Catching Fire is based on the book of the same name. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark managed to both survive the 74th Hunger Games. They did this because they were going to eat poisoned berries and depriving the games of the victor before the director of the Games proclaimed them co-winners. However, by beating the rules of the Hunger Games, a lot of the citizens from the various Districts saw this as an act of defiance and small riots and revolutions have started all around the nation.
In order to quell the demonstrations, the President calls for all the winners of the previous Hunger Games to participate in this year’s games. That way, they can kill Katniss (who has become a symbol for the rebels) without actually assassinating her.
Let me talk about the good points of the movie first. The acting of Jennifer Lawrence is incredible! She was totally believable in the role of a girl who was just trying to survive and who doesn’t really want to become a beacon of hope for the people. Katniss has been given a huge weight to bear, carrying the hopes of a nation. But she never wanted to be a symbol! J-Law’s portrayal of a young woman being burdened from an unwanted role was pretty convincing.
And, while almost everyone does very well with their given roles, I would say Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket stood out the most. When I watched the first Hunger Games film, she was a pretty one-dimensional character. Effie was just fulfilling her role as chaperone for the District 12 then. It seemed that she thought of them as savages. But here, you can see her show affection for Katniss and Peeta, even calling her a part of the team. I thought it was amazing that Elizabeth Banks could convey that message through all the makeup she had to wear!
Speaking of make up, the costumes, sets and effects were freaking amazing to watch on the big screen. You can really notice a big difference between the 12 Districts and the Capitol just by looking at the sets. The higher numbered Districts look like awful places to live in. But, as you get to the lower numbers, you really notice an improvement in their living conditions. When you arrive at the Capitol, everything is just covered in an excess of color and fanciness!
Now, to the bad points of the film. It seems to try to hint at a lot of things and setting things up but never really follows through with any of them. A good example of this would be the introduction of a number of the returning Tributes. A lot of them are pretty interesting. You have an old woman (I call her Blair Witch since she doesn’t talk and… she’s old) who mentored other Tributes from her District. There’s a woman who sharpens her teeth into pointy fangs (which is why I call her Fang Face). There is the brother/sister tandem that won two consecutive games (who I called Team Incest). There’s the crazy girl who’s good with handling an axe, who I call Lizzie, and the handsome but shallow and arrogant; he’s Douchebag Hero in my mind.
But the only ones who really get adequate screen time are Lizzie and Douchebag Hero! The rest of the other Tributes seem to be just there as… well, they’re just there! I really wanted to see Fang Face in action! Also, it seems by adding more characters, they had to sacrifice quite a bit of character development for the other characters. Primrose seemed to have “a moment” where she was showing her maturity but it was over in a couple of minutes. I can’t really see Katniss and Peeta’s relationship going anywhere since they don’t have time to show it. In fact, I can’t really see why Katniss loves the character played by Liam Hemsworth at all!
But the worst part is, like I said in the beginning, is the ending! The movie just ends without a warning. It actually took me by surprise when the credits started rolling! It was like the director realized they had only enough time and/or money to film the ending so he did a rush job to close the film. Either that or Catching Fire was made to set up what will happen in Mockingjay. I guess Catching Fire works better as a book (where it can take its time weaving a tale and giving lots of descriptions) instead of a movie that’s a little more than 2 hours long (where its necessary to gloss over a few details to tell the main story).
Is Catching Fire a good movie? Well, it’s okay. It’s not like I’ll be rushing out to buy it on home video when it comes out. It’s more of a film that, if it’s showing on cable, I wouldn’t mind watching it again. The parts that work, like the acting and costumes, really work well; there’s no questioning that. But, for me, there are so many more interesting things that they could have focused on as well. So, my disappointment was more because of the promise that it would be much more than it was.
Well, I’m hoping Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2 will fulfill that promise. Argh! I hate waiting!
Have you watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? Did you enjoy it? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!