The movie was unbelievably true to the book (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins), thanks to Lawrence’s direction. There are lines that come directly from the book, quoted word for word. The world of Panem (where The Hunger Games series takes place) is expanded, allowing readers of the series to see a physical representation of the world created in our heads. And, best of all, we get to see the action unfold before our eyes. We are left on the very same cliffhanger that the book left us with. Mockingjay Part 1 (the third of four installments in the series) cannot come fast enough.
One of the most amazing aspects of the film for me was its character development. Peeta in particular grows a massive amount as a character. Josh Hutcherson is able to really make Peeta come to life in this second movie, giving us a deeper understanding of his character. We fell in love with Peeta in The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire made us fall even deeper. His relationship with Katniss is heartwrenching and beautiful, and his emotional support is present now more than ever. Hutcherson was cast perfectly for this role, despite qualms that some viewers had during the first movie. Many felt that he wasn’t the right candidate – that he was too young, too short, too old, too brunette. Whatever those concerns were, they are definitely gone now.
Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale, also brings more character into the mix, showing us the beginning of his rebellious persona throughout this film. Gale is definitely more highlighted in Catching Fire than he was in The Hunger Games, particularly through his newfound desire to rebel against the Capitol. Katniss’ relationship with him, as closer-than-best-friends yet remaining undefined, creates delicious tension. Katniss’ situation between the two men was positively eaten up by the movie audience, just as it was with readers.
Katniss, however, remains the film’s main feature. Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong. Her facial expressions speak volumes, and her quick wit and sense of humor shine through in some beautiful moments in this film. Her relationship with Hutcherson is thrilling to watch, but her real attention-grabber becomes how much we emotionally connect with her during the film. Sure, we felt sympathy for her during The Hunger Games (who wouldn’t?), but we feel even more closely connected with her plight now. The audiences are becoming invested in the story and crave to watch it unfold. The transition from helpless volunteer tribute standing in to save her sister, to a powerful warrior suffering from PTSD, is stark and incredibly realistic. Her strength as a woman is incredible.
It is also interesting to note how much Katniss doesn’t rely on the men within the Hunger Games books or movies. She doesn’t care very much about romantic relationships, as they are confusing and terribly timed amid her chaotic life. She has no room in her life for a relationship, let alone a love triangle, so she pushes it out of her consciousness quite a bit. This is definitely a refreshing change from books like Twilight. The struggle of surviving the games is real, and therefore the romances take a backseat in the movie, just as they do in the books. In this film in particular, Katniss only addresses them when she is forced to. Her individual spirit makes us admire her, not her relationship to the male characters.
Overall, Catching Fire is an incredible experience. The quality of the film is outrageous, and the acting superb. With the new cast of characters that blew us away, and a new director who adapted the book as perfectly as possible, this movie is sure to be a hit for the ages. Our only problem now is waiting for the third installment in November 2014 – a whole year seems far too long to wait!
Natalie Hamil is a Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College. She is on the pursuit of happiness. Her passions include reading, writing, crocheting and wearing interesting/colorful pants. - Natalie Hamil is a Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College. She is on the pursuit of happiness. Her passions include reading, writing, crocheting and wearing interesting/colorful pants. Follow her on Twitter.