Yes, I know that the movie’s official title is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but that’s stupid because everyone who cares about this series already knows that the second book is called Catching Fire, Catching Fire is what I asked to see at the box office when I bought tickets, and Catching Fire is what I think of when I think about this movie (for anyone who’s interested, I have the same peevish attitude towards the titles of the movies in the Twilight series except I tend not to devote mental energy towards them because they’re just not that good).
Setting aside that complaint, I really enjoyed the movie. Unlike when I saw Ender’s Game, I didn’t feel like it was too short (or too long) or that anything vital had been cut out. In all honesty, it’s probably not a great movie for me to write about simply because I just so thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven’t yet gone to see it and you have any interest in the Hunger Games series, then go see it. You won’t be disappointed.
You may be thrown by the fact that everyone in District 12 apparently has fantastic hair (especially Gale; I remember pretty much nothing about scenes involving him because I was always in awe of his most perfect of coifs), but you won’t be disappointed.
As for the movie-going experience, just watch out for the obnoxious Nerf toy commercial that runs beforehand (at least, it ran at the showing I went to, which was on opening night). The commercial’s selling a new line of toys from Nerf that are clearly designed to appeal to girls while also ripping off Katniss’s archery motif. I can remember the name of the line, but I’m not going to repeat it here because I just thought it was asinine, and even mentioning it this briefly is probably giving the toy line more attention than it deserves. All I can say is that I’m appalled (but not shocked) that Nerf, a company that relies on selling action toys like balls and guns, would decide that they need to make a distinctly feminine line of toys with a white and pink color palette. I’m cool with using those colors in product design, but it’s highly problematic that they’re still being so overtly coded to girls. Also, if I were still a kid (and I had friends with whom I could go outside and play with Nerf toys) I’d probably really enjoy the products I saw in the commercial. Of course, these toys are girl toys, so only girls can play with them. You know what’s a better alternative to making a line of girl targeted toys? Just make a unisex line and include boys and girls in your advertising. That simple. Run along now, and continue contributing to the mass media circus that Hunger Games is trying to satirize (for a more thoughtful look at this total advertising misfire than what I’m offering, check out this article from The Guardian).
One other complaint I have, and this is really minor in context of the film itself, though I’ve read a lot more about it than I expected to see, but apparently the filmmakers decided that Peeta needed to be more of a badass than he was in the first film (I’m terrible about details like this, but apparently in the adaptation of the first book, the one time that Peeta kills someone in the arena was cut, effectively making him a bloodless saint in the movie). Now, I can understand wanting to demonstrate that Peeta’s growing as a character and he’s been changed by his experiences in the arena, but something about the way the filmmakers framed this change (in the adaptation of Catching Fire, Peeta kills someone within the first five minutes of the game starting, where in the book he did no such thing) just irritated me. I’ll say up front that when I was reading the original series I liked Katniss being paired with Peeta just fine, because I think of them as having complementary personalities (where Katniss and Gale are just too much alike). The fact that Katniss is a stone killer doesn’t bother me, and the fact that Peeta transitioned from being portrayed as an innocent (which, to be fair, he’s really not in the original book) to being a killer as well makes perfect thematic sense considering the trauma angle that the filmmakers are working in this new adaptation. But to say that they wanted to make Peeta kill someone to clarify that he’s worthy of Katniss’s affection just baffles me. They have shared trauma, and part of Peeta’s appeal is that he’s supposed to be gentler than Katniss, even though he also demonstrates a lot of cunning. I think making some weird masculine statement about Peeta needing to be portrayed as a killer to explain why Katniss might become attracted to him is absurd and backwards.
That’s enough of my rant about the movie. If you’re a fan of the series, go see it. If you’re a fan of really flashy effects and action sequences, go see it. If you have comments about Catching Fire or the Hunger Games series in general, feel free to leave them down below.