Okay…Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games installment in film form. It has been a while since I read this book. I wrote a review for it in April 2012!
Wow, I have had this blog for a long time! I have seen tons and tons of feedback for the film and all of it has been positive. Besides hearing about the amazing actors and the awesome soundtrack, the review I saw the most was that this film was practically 100% like the book. Is it true? I wish I could remember…
That is the first thing I want to talk about. Going into this film, I thought it would all come flooding back to me but the truth is, I forgot a lot of plot events. This could be because Catching Fire is to the Hunger Games book series as Order of the Phoenix is to the Harry Potter book series. It introduces a whole load of new characters and a whole new complex story that, in my opinion, is not easy to get in just one read. It has to be read more than once.
I would love to reread Catching Fire but right now I want to read new books and have just started reading the final book, Mockingjay. In other words, I don’t have time. Anyway, when it came to the actual Hunger Games, I forgot most of the events in the arena and was like an average movie goer unaware of what was coming up next. When I left the theater, my first thought was that the movie was a bit overwhelming - the content was on overload and sometimes certain things felt rushed. Then a thought occurred to me - for the fans who had read Catching Fire and had looked forward to every single event being portrayed on the big screen, this must have been their heaven on earth. The movie truly seemed to keep every event from the book which is why I may have felt like it was overwhelming and rushed. Usually, I am on the other side of things. Usually, I am a nerd who can point out every single deviation from book to movie. Now that I have been on the other side, I have a sense as to why movie directors and writers have such a hard time keeping every single book event in the movie. For book lovers, this movie will have been an A+ and possibly movie goers who haven’t read the books but love the Hunger Games will agree. This film stuck to the book and that is a rarity in Hollywood. But now I understand why so many book to movie adaptions don’t stick to the book. Because this film stuck so close to the book, it did a lot of things that don’t work for films and that I believe is why the film felt overloaded with content and felt rushed at times. I don’t believe this film would or should win any academy awards (which isn’t saying much because I don’t think the academy awards do a great job at choosing the best films to represent the industry and are very biased) nor do I believe this film will be held alone as the best in it’s own right. I think it is a film that Hunger Games fans will love (and I sure loved it but I still love the first film and first book the best). The average movie goer may not feel the same way because as a film, there could have been improvements. Regardless, the filmmakers did an excellent job and that is what I also want to talk about in this review - the things I loved, liked, and didn’t care for.
Let’s start with the things I loved about the film. First - Jennifer-freaking-Lawrence! I love that girl way too much! When she was first announced as the actress to play Katniss, I had never heard of her and didn’t know what to think of her. When I saw the first movie, I found her to be refreshing because I had never seen an actress quite like her. Her acting style was really unique. Then I saw her in Silver Linings Playbook, watched a bit of interviews she had done that not only are genuine but funny (including the hilarious Academy Awards question and answer speech) and finally began to understand why everyone loves this girl. She is freaking awesome! Which brings me to my point that she did a perfect job at portraying Katniss Everdeen. To make her portrayal possible though, the film needed some great writers and a great director to convey the psychological effects the Hunger Games have had on Katniss. These scenes which focused on Katniss’s psychological well-being were well written, well shot, and well acted. My favorite was in the very beginning when Katniss is sitting calmly by the water with her bow and suddenly she hears a sound and instantly reacts as if she is still in the games but before she releases her bow, she realizes it is just Gale coming up from behind and she is no longer in danger. Besides Jennifer Lawrence, the other actors did a spectacular job as well.
The other scenes I loved in the movie outside of a theme were when Katniss’s wedding dress transformed into the mockingjay on stage and when Katniss went to enter the games and Cinna was taken away.
Now for the things I thought were not so great. First - and this is no fault to the movie as much as it is the book - I still believe, as I said in my original book review, that the end of the story is a cop-out. The ending is too easy. Now for the movie itself I found a few faults but two stand outs that I want to talk about. The first was the elevator scene where Katniss and Peeta meet Johanna. Johanna steps on the elevator, complains about her outfit and then begins to strip out of it until she is completely naked. Was that in the book? I don’t think so. It just felt awkward to me. Second - was it just me or did I notice an inconsistency when it came to the clock events? When Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick run away from the poisoned fog, they tumble down a hill and as the fog approaches them it hits an invisible force field wall. Later in the film Katniss and Finnick run into the section of the clock where there are jabberjays and as they try to escape, they hit the force field and they can’t get out until the hour is up. How come they couldn’t get out of their section with the jabberjays but they could get out of the section with the poison? Just an observation I have made.
There are also two things missing from the film that I had looked forward to seeing. One scene I missed was the scene where Katniss has to jump the electric fence. The electric fence in District 12 is usually never on but when the Capitol learns of Katniss and Gale’s trips into the forest, they turn the fence on suddenly while Katniss is in there and she must jump over it to get back home. The other big thing missing is that we don’t get to see Haymitch in his Hunger Games. I would have liked to see that but I know they are splitting the last book into two films so they will probably bring it up then.
I see that many people more prefer this movie to the first. I think everyone involved did a great job and I can agree that in terms of little details, this movie did a better job but I still prefer the first one. Many people disliked the shaking camera movement but I disagree. I liked that because it felt much more realistic and scary - like if you were the one running near Katniss in the Hunger Games. I also like the first book better than the sequel so that is another reason I prefer the first film. Overall, it was a great experience watching it and I know I will be watching it time and time again but I do not feel this film is necessarily better than the first. I believe they are equally good and work well together though the first movie is my personal favorite.
I first read the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series when I was 15, almost 16. I came to the book late in the game. It came out when I was 12. It was the summer time, August to be exact, and I began reading the book at an interesting point in my life. For my 16th birthday I did not have a big sweet sixteen with a bunch of friends. I invited four or five to my house for a sleepover and we went to my church’s carnival to celebrate. Nothing fancy. Before we left for the carnival my mom surprised me with my very first cell phone. It was a flip phone track phone and I loved it. My parents were strongly against cell phones and I could tell this phone wasn’t as nice as the razor all my friends had but I didn’t care. I finally had my own phone. I bring this small anecdote up because looking back, this was a huge thing in my life. The memories from that weekend are still strong in my mind and I distinctly remember my new phone being apart of it along with my friends, family and of course, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
After my party my dad, brother and I took a weekend trip up to the Pocono’s to stay in a small cabin in the same community my grandparents used to live. I brought Harry Potter with me. My grandmom came as well and brought her friend Peggy with her. All I remember of Peggy is that she loved Bingo and that she constantly commented on my love for reading. She probably commented so much because I was reading so much. I was caught reading this book constantly and the truth is, I couldn’t put it down. For the first time I began to realize how amazing this series actually was. Before this point I had only liked Harry Potter. Now I was falling in love with the books.
The entire weekend was fantastic. Between the nostalgia I felt at being back to the location I had spent so many summers and Christmas’s at with my family and my new cell phone and the amazing book I was reading, there was nothing to spoil my happiness. This is the memory I carry with me when I read this book and it is what I think of when I look at it’s spine from time to time on my bookshelf.
Goblet of Fire is truly the turning point of the Harry Potter series, but Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix takes the series to an entirely new level. It is, in my opinion, the most complex of the series, introducing plenty of new characters, new types of magic, tragedy, and an entirely new plot that ends up tying into the entire series! This novel also has the best villain, Dolores Umbridge - the “pink” professor we all love to hate. Her sweetness is so repulsive and it is very reminiscent of Professor Lockhart from Chamber of Secrets. This book often brings into question “what makes a good educator?” and definitely has something to say about education in general. Another stand out attribute to this novel is that it is very much a Sirius focused story. Like it’s ring book, Prisoner of Azkaban, Order of the Phoenix focuses on the relationship between Harry and his godfather. The reader learns a lot about his godfather’s family history and sees Harry share many strong bonding moments with Sirius. Rowling does an excellent job at painting the tragic story of Sirius, the supposed escaped convict who can’t do anything to help with the cause to defeat Voldemort and is humiliated in the process. His death marks another tragedy in Harry’s life…as if watching Cedric Diggory die and growing up without parents wasn’t enough.
While many critique this novel for being too dark, too long, and too teenage angst, I disagree. I don’t disagree with the fact that the book is dark, long, and has a lot of teenage angst. In fact, I believe it is those things that propel this novel forward and set it apart from it’s siblings. Even the later books, while still extremely dark, don’t quite measure up to this book in my opinion. Harry’s anger only proves that he is human and what I love is that he isn’t the typical hero. He is weak and flawed, unlike many of the typical heroes we see in fantasy. Of course Harry isn’t the first fantasy hero to be flawed but he was the first in my childhood. While the book is long, I can’t imagine any part of it being taken out. Each chapter and sentence is essential to the story - whether it be to forward the plot or to develop the world and the characters inside it. Besides Harry’s angst, we also see a lot of sassy Harry in this book (for those who are not acquainted with this side of Harry, you should check him out in Chapter 1 of this book) and I love sassy Harry.
There are a ton of other things I want to mention but that would take forever so I am going to end this review here. Overall, this book is a solid addition to the Potter series and it’s darker tone sheds a new light on how great this series is. 5 out of 5 stars!