Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I couldn’t review the last Hunger Games movie because my opinion wasn’t so clear, and I couldn’t answer the central question of “who should see this movie?”. The sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was a lot less frustrating personally in terms of deviation from the book; there were only one or two major grievances I had with the movie. I enjoyed it.

So this time, the entire “review” will be about whether or not you should watch this movie.

A. You liked the first movie: Then you’ll most likely like the second movie.

B1. You didn’t like the first movie and didn’t read the books: You probably still won’t like this one; don’t bother.

B2. You didn’t like the first movie because it wasn’t faithful to the books: Like I said, Catching Fire is better about this. If that’s your only grievance with #1, go ahead and give #2 a try. (You’ll have to get used to the “The Hunger Games colon” prefix, though.)

B3. You didn’t like the first movie for another reason, and already read the books: This one feels a lot like the first movie, so unless you think you’d be down for the second book material treated in first movie style (with fewer unfaithfulnesses), you should probably give it a bye.

C1. You didn’t see the first movie and didn’t read the books: Complete wildcard. I couldn’t review the first movie, so I can’t really encourage or discourage you from seeing this one. I will say it won’t make sense without seeing the first movie or reading the first book, though.

C2. You didn’t see the first movie, but did read the books: Can’t help you here either; you very well could enjoy this one. It is possible to get by just on your knowledge of the books, and you’ll avoid being frustrated by the changes in the first movie.

And there you have it. Here’re, I think, my biggest complaints about the movie:

Since when does Peeta have no friends and family he cares about? It’s not true in the book, and I don’t remember that being changed in the first movie. I would have actually been okay with this change if they had just demonstrated it to us: either showing that his family had all passed away, or an exchange of warmth-less glances with his remaining relatives. All we got was that he’s alone in his Victor’s house.

The ending felt coincidental. In the book, Haymitch and Plutarch Heavensbee spell out the plan for Katniss directly: Beetee was supposed to take down the force field all along, and the time of the rescue was signalled via their gift packages. In the movie, however, it’s hard to tell what Beetee was doing with his wire-wrapped knife, and (IIRC) there was no confirmation that this was the plan from the beginning. I guess they did talk about force fields in the training room, but that wasn’t enough for me.

I’ll be watching Mockingjay (or rather The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) next year for sure. Wait, it’s going to be a two-parter? Grrr…why does every adaptation have to do this now?