The Hunger Games trilogy is a great set of books – they are well written with excellent pace, strong characters and consistent development. They are great, all round books that stretch beyond their targeted audience. The first two have been made into films with the third on its way but I’ve heard mixed reviews about Catching Fire and having seen it twice now, it’s time to weigh in.
Before I start, I will be covering the books in a post next year so I won’t make many references to them except in relation to the film. You’ll have to wait for a deeper look at the books, I’m afraid!
Getting to Catching Fire
So, we leave Katniss and Peeta after they both survive the 74th Hunger Games – the first time two people have done so. Their act of love is seen as defiance across the capital and riots are starting, although they don’t know it. Their lives are about to change but neither of them are aware of the full impact of what they’ve just done.
Katniss isn’t exactly likable in the film, at least, not at first. She is cold, calculating distant and acts like she doesn’t care about anyone other than herself, Gale and their families. There is a reason for this provided in the books, more than the world they live in but this isn’t really explained in the film which makes her come across as a bit cruel and heartless at times. I’d use another word, but it might not be suitable. We are going to see these qualities resurface in kind in Catching Fire.
We learn more about Peeta, Katniss, Haymitch, Gale and more in this film. We see familiar faces and their traits return – Katniss’ complaining and hard-ass attitude, Haymtich’s drinking, Peeta’s patience. These are all present throughout the trilogy, well other than one of what I’ve just mentioned!
In each film, we see the characters grow a little but it’s not until you get to the end and compare the beginning to the end that we see any real changes. Keep watching, you’ll see what I mean.
Pace of the film
The pace of the film is great. It starts off exactly where it needs to and it isn’t slow. It follows the book well, so if you know it, you can understand what Katniss and Peeta have to deal with. How they deal is the setup to the 75th Hunger Games – the Quarter Quell. We know that it’s coming from the trailers and the premise of the films. No new characters are introduced until after the reaping so we know we’re still following the same tributes and we will for the rest of the trilogy.
We’re treading on familiar territory from the reaping onwards. Same process applies until the end of the film pretty much, so I understand why some people might get bored.
Expanding and elaborating on what came before
It’s the same premise but with a much different delivery. Everything is bigger and more elaborate this time, right from the parade to the training grounds and life in The Capital. The arena is bigger and better than ever before (for the audience anyway) and has a set theme to it, with a logical progression. Figuring this out is easy so it’s left for you to wonder if it was meant to help or hinder our protagonists. You’ll have to read the book or watch the film and decide for yourselves on that one, I won’t spoil it.
I prefer Catching Fire to The Hunger Games for a few reasons. I think the characters are more relatable in this film – perhaps because we get to know more about them and have more links to them than in the first film. We have more reason to feel for now only Peeta and Katniss, but all of them. Every tragedy is more tragic than in the first film and the lengths they all go to to achieve their own goals is the perfect setting so Mockingjay. Keep that in mind.
Not only is Catching Fire my favourite book of the trilogy, but it’s my favourite film so far. Knowing what comes next, it may well stay that way.