Is Catching Fire The Hunger Games We Wanted?

1 Dec

The Hunger Games Francise is a blatant rip off of so many things, the only reason it is popular is because it’s marketed toward teenage girls who don’t know any better. The Hunger Games themselves are a copy of a myth from Ancient Greece (or The Capitol) about the tyrant King Minos (President Snow) who regularly would send in 7 young boys and 7 young girls (tributes) into his Labyrinth (Arena) to be devoured (killed) by a Minotaur (The Game Makers). The Capitol is even full of characters with names derived from Greece and Rome; Octavia, Flavius, Caesar, Claudius, and Plutarch, even Peeta comes from “petra” which is  Greek for stone. That’s not all, Hunger Games also has an awful lot in common with Ender’s Game. Both are sci-fi books with protagonists who’re young, very close to their sister’s, and are growing up in a dystopian future. Both stories are about how adults exploit children through lying  and manipulation so that the adults can maintain positions of power. Both have children killing children and spend a lot of time telling the story in first person perspective. Finally, both protagonists are the saviors of a rigid and constraining society. Oh yeah, there’s this book that was also made into a movie called Battle Royale, about high school kids killing each other in a government run competition, the last survivor returns home a celebrity, sound familiar?…

Hunger Games Books

It should come as no surprise that me, a grown-ass man, thought the Hunger Games books were FREAKING AWESOME! Don’t believe the bad hype, it doesn’t matter if similarities can be found to earlier sources. Hunger Games builds a unique and interesting world, filled with characters in conflict; with their enemies, their allies, and themselves. These books aren’t perfection, All I’m saying is they’re fun quick reads that touch on topics ranging from “the one percenters” to media manipulation and government control. They might spend a little too much time talking about kissing, other than that I didn’t find them particularly girly.

The first movie was okay but not awesome, like it should’ve been. I love Jennifer Lawrence, she’s a perfect Katniss but the other great casting choices were underused. I wanted more drunk Woody Harrelson, more menacing Donald Sutherland, more Elizabeth Banks, I don’t think they even let the audience know who Effie Trinket was or what role she was there to fill. The secondary characters were just flat. Panem the world where the story takes place was underdeveloped, except for The Capitol. Overall a lot of little stupid things that were so close to being right added up to an underwhelming movie. So when I heard they’d changed directors while still making Catching Fire under a tight deadline. I wasn’t optimistic that my favorite book in the series would get the proper on screen portrayal it deserved. I was wrong.

hungar games

Catching Fire is the movie you want it to be, whether you’ve read the book or not. The main story is true to the book but more attention is paid to making sure the little things are right. Katniss and Peeta start back in District 12, but it’s winter now and that makes it look very different. This is just the beginning of how Catching Fire opens up the country of Panem to the audience, building this dystopian world into a more complex place. Some of the other districts are shown via a giant train tour celebrating our victors and we find out more about the people who come from other districts as the movie chugs along. The Capitol is a place where people dress to get the most attention possible, fashion is over-the-top, flashy, ridiculous, and unintentionally funny to outsiders. The first movie didn’t quite capture it, everybody looked like they were wearing doll clothes or shopped at a cartoon mall. Catching Fire takes their look into a more grown-up, extravagant, absurd level, that’s somehow more real and more funny. Katniss and Peeta’s flaming costumes finally look right too.

The use of the cast is much better the second time around, there’s enough frustrated, inebriated Haymitch, and overly enthusiastic Effie to make their roles memorable. Katniss and President Snow only have one scene together but Donald Sutherland is chilling in it. Since the books are all Katniss’s perspective I appreciated the movie taking the opportunity to branch out and show Snow interacting with his granddaughter (I predict we see her later, as a surrogate for another character) and scheming with Game Maker Plutarch Heavensbee played subtly by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Also Stanley Tucci is not someone I generally like, however he goes above and beyond as Caesar Flickerman, the super fake, 100% tool, of an entertainment show host. Additional characters from previous Hunger Games connect with the audience, so knowing people are going to die when they’re in The Arena cameras rolling, this time you care. Especially because this arena is a shit-storm compared to the previous one. I remember the book when they figure out the Arena’s pattern, thinking “that is so fucked-up. . . and cool”, I hope people who haven’t read the book get that feeling. Now, there’s stuff that’s corny, like the “Mocking Jay” at the very end but that’s part of Y.A. sci-fi movie genre, just be glad there’s no shaky-cam, I HATE shaky camera shots.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Carl Wells

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3 Responses to “Is Catching Fire The Hunger Games We Wanted?”

  1. Derek December 5, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    Carl, I’m glad I’m not the only grown-ass man who thinks Hunger Games is awesome. I thought the movie was done very well and stayed true to the book. Jena Malone was great, however, she isn’t how I imagined Johanna to be. Basically, I thought she would be hotter and more aloof. Don’t get me wrong, Jena is hot. Just not Johanna hot.

    • Carl Wells December 5, 2013 at 2:36 am #

      I didn’t think Jena Malone could make a good Johanna either but when I saw her in the movie I was pleasantly surprised and though she pulled it off.

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  1. Stupid Oscar Predictions | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - February 24, 2014

    […] Should win – CATCHING FIRE even though it isn’t nominated, fashion is a big part of that world and this movie finally got it right. […]

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