Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the 2013 sequel to 2012's Hunger Games adaptation. Something I have to say about this is that while it's not a perfect adaptation of the book, it's probably better than the last movie. While it's cut out a ton of story elements, it's actually got less problems then the first one. Now unlike with the first movie, it had been about two or three months since I'd read the book. My summer movie and book marathon had crammed so much into my head that it started to blur into a huge mess. Plus, I had just finished up on the last two Transformers movies, and The Expendables. I don't know if you've read them yet, but if you have you'll know the kind of contrast we've got going on here. After seeing The Expendables, almost anything looks good. Remember what I said about not putting out my review of the movie until after I'd put a few others out? Well that's why. I wanted you to know what my mindset was going into this movie.
So they cut out all mentions of District 13 until the end of the movie. All the little bits of it. The inspection of the footage of District 13 that exists to find out that they're re-using the same stock footage over and over again was cut. They cut out the refugees from the other districts fleeing to District 13, even though they kept the scene with Katniss and Gale noticing the hovercraft looking for them. That means that a lot of plot elements for the Mockingjay movies have been cut out. Two whole characters in addition to the other characters they've cut out from the rest of the series.
Anyways, they re-contextualized the scene to show the arrival of the new head Peacekeeper. Not a horrible use of the screentime, but not a great thing for the series as a whole.
So anyways, they show the new head Peacekeeper and his team executing the old head Peacekeeper, which isn't something I was too fond of. I liked it better leaving his fate to the imagination, because for all we know they locked him in a room with flesh-eating beetles, or just left him out in the wilderness. It can be as horrid or pleasant as the viewer likes, but I suppose it could have been executed worse....
Anyways, some more scenes have been cut-out and added as with the last movie, with varying levels of quality. The victory tour is way more involved than it was in the book, but with the rioting having been more overt. You see, I liked that you weren't sure how much support the resistance actually had, lending more mystique to the whole story. Especially when they show the man being executed in front of them. I also liked how the Capitol's retaliation to the rebellion was also more covert, trying to deal with things on the down-low (For the most part). They've cut out a lot of how District 12 was affected by the new, harsher Peacekeeper regime. And they also cut out a lot of the character development between Gale and Katniss. And this is a lot of important things.
Leading into something else I disliked about the movie is that you learn how big a bunch of monsters the resistance are sooner then you did in the books. Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, Plutarch Heavensbee comes off as completely and totally unconcerned with anything other than the mission he was supplied with by District 13. Granted, he does a good job of seeming like he's on Snow's side throughout the movie, but I don't like that they revealed the level of monstrosities that District 13 committed while combating the Capitol. Granted, they haven't shown how very little that District 13 cares about its citizens and soldiers yet, so they've got something left over for Mockingjay, so it might just be some decent foreshadowing. I don't know. The scenes with Plutarch don't ruin the story as much as the scenes with Seneca Crane did in The Hunger Games, so I suppose that's an improvement.
Now, the end of the tour at the capitol has had a scene cut out that punctuates the importance of The Mockingjay, which is where the last book in the trilogy, Mockingjay got its name. One with Heavensbee showing Katniss the Mockingjay hologram in his watch. Granted, they sort of made up for it by showing the Mockingjay emblem painted on a wall in one of the districts while Katniss and Peeta are coming in by train.
Now, there are a few more gripes I have with the movie. I would have figured that Finnick would have been a little older then he was in this. They also had a similar problem with the chariot scene as did the first movie, in that they didn't have enough shots of all of the tributes in their costumes on their chariots. I complained about this in my review of the first movie too. I really want to see extended versions of those scenes in future releases of the movies.
The interviews of the Tributes are good. They could have been a lot longer, but whatever. I actually liked how they rounded it off. Something I didn't really like about it though was that Peeta came off as unassertive. In the book he delivered his lines with a lot more fervor and hatred, but in the movie he came off more meek and nervous. Granted, I liked the crowd's reaction to what he said but if he'd been a little more assertive with his line delivery it would have been a little better. Also, they were sitting down during the interview in the book if I'm not mistaken.
When they killed Cinna it came off similarly to the death of Rue in the first movie, sad but less sad because you didn't know him very well.
Now, you remember when I said that them cutting out Katniss's deaf-ear would affect the plot of this movie? Well it did, but not as much as I would have thought. It's actually implemented really well. Despite that, I still wish they'd done it the way it was in the books.
Throughout the movie I don't really have anything to say about it. It's pretty much a good experience. They abridged the plot fairly heavily again, but it's much better than how they treated the plot of the first movie. There are a ton of things added into it, but they're all very good. They don't feel like unnecessary padding at all, strangely enough. And it ends fairly well too.
All in all, I liked it a lot better than the first movie. Then again, after hours of lying on a bed of gravel a cheap foam mattress would feel like heaven. So at the frame of mind I was in when I was watching the movie, I have to say that it's an 8.2* rating.
I'll see you next week with 2012!