The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
There is no intro. You are expected to know what's going on, which is perfectly reasonable for a series. It's been a year since the movie came out and a couple of years since we read the books. It is, of course, beautifully filmed, and is much darker than The Hunger Games. Woody Harrelson's Hamish is spot on. And Epie turns out to have a heart, even if her worldview is distorted by the Capital. I continue to rave about Stanley Tucci as the big TV emcee. And Donald Sutherland as President Snow. Sigh. It's truly creepy when some lie or horrible sentiment is delivered in the same smooth velvet that Donald uses to sell orange juice. Be afraid of the juice. (grin)
As for the victims, er, Tributes, there is a very different feel in the second story. We had no reason to think about it in the opening installment, that that was the 74th Hunger Games. Magic number 75? The 3rd Quarterquell? Can you say screw the Victors and turn most of them into victims? MAN, that is one devious plot twist. If this movie has a weak spot for me, is that compared to the book, they've pared down the key players. From Katniss on down, it's solid casting. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss as flawed, scared and rough. Not as the too-beautiful-to-be-believed heroine.
In earlier reviews I'm sure I commented that Katniss reacts, not acts. That's not the whole story, because everyone is shielding her so she doesn't know the whole story. Let's just say she has trust issues. When the President personally wants you dead, I suspect you'd have issues.
Much like The Maze Runner, the sheer COST of running both the centralized bully government and the high tech we-spared-no-expense Hunger Games makes you wonder. If they just spent the money on humanity, wouldn't everyone be better off? Well, no. The pigs freelancing in the Capital, like the front end passengers on Snowpiercer, would find the gravy train over, the decadent waste ended -- can't have that. Big difference between Hunger Games and Mazerunner -- the Hunger Games venues are used once, like the Olympics, whereas the Maze looks weathered like it's been there a while and used for more than one time.
I applaud the decision to split Mockingjay, the third novel into two parts. The novel has a big division between the battles in the Districts and the battles in the Capital. Neither should be given short shrift.
We're ready now.